Game Commission Releases Deer Harvest Estimates

The statewide buck harvest was estimated at 171,600, while the antlerless harvest was estimated at 258,410.

Jacob Deemer

Jacob Deemer

Published March 29, 2024 12:20 am
Last Updated: March 29, 2024 6:30 am
Game Commission Releases Deer Harvest Estimates

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Game Commission on Thursday reported results from the 2023-24 deer seasons, which ended in January.

Hunters harvested an estimated 430,010 white-tailed deer. The statewide buck harvest was estimated at 171,600, while the antlerless harvest was estimated at 258,410.

The overall harvest is 2% greater than that from 2022-23, which was estimated at 422,960. It’s 4% higher than the total harvest seen as a three- year average.

Game Commission Deer and Elk Section Supervisor David Stainbrook said harvest estimates are calculated using antlered and antlerless harvest reports by hunters in combination with data from deer checked by crews at processors across the state to estimate reporting rates.

“Last year, 31 teams of trained deer agers visited more than 400 processors across the Commonwealth during the statewide firearms season, to collect data, age deer based on tooth replacement and wear, and record information from harvest tags,” Stainbrook said. “They examined more than 24,000 whitetails.”

Hunters themselves, meanwhile, reported taking more than 134,000 deer, most often using the Game Commission’s online reporting system. That accounted for 74% of all reports received. Another 18% of deer harvest reports came via report cards, while 8% of reports were made by phone.

Taking a look at the buck harvest in particular, it was up in 2023-24 by 5% over the season previous and up 6% over the three-year average. Overall, 27% of deer hunters harvested a buck. That was a slight increase over 2022-23’s 26% success rate, and up significantly from the 15% success rate seen as recently as 2007-08.

The majority of bucks harvested are older than in decades past, too. Before antler point restrictions, most of the bucks harvested were yearling deer, meaning those 1.5-years-old. In 2023-24, 64% of bucks taken were at least 2.5 years old.

As for the 2023-24 antlerless deer harvest, 69% of the harvest was adult females. Another 16% were button bucks and 14% were doe fawns. Those, too, are in line with long-term averages.

About one in four antlerless licenses issued for last season resulted in a harvest.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said the harvest numbers show the agency’s deer management program is working, not just from a biological perspective, but for hunters, as well. That bodes well for those taking to the woods now and those who will follow.

“There’s no denying this a great time to be a Pennsylvania deer hunter,” Burhans said. “But best of all, these numbers show that we’re managing deer and their habitat in ways that are sustainable over the long haul. That’s not only best for deer, but for deer hunters, too.”

As in years past, the regular firearms deer season accounted for the largest part of the 2023-24 deer harvest. Firearms hunters took an estimated 254,710 deer, with 86,260 of those bucks and the remaining 168,450 being antlerless. Bowhunters accounted for a little over a third of the total deer harvest, taking an estimated 154,850 whitetails (83,370 bucks and 71,480 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows. The estimated muzzleloader harvest was 20,450 (1,970 bucks and 18,480 antlerless deer).

Total deer harvest estimates by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) for 2023-24 (with 2022-23 figures in parentheses) are as follows:

WMU 1A: 8,000 antlered (9,000), 13,800 antlerless (13,800).
WMU 1B: 10,300 antlered (9,100), and 13,600 antlerless (15,300).
WMU 2A: 10,000 antlered (8,700), and 13,300 antlerless (11,000).
WMU 2B: 7,000 antlered (6,600), and 16,000 antlerless (15,000).
WMU 2C: 10,600 antlered (10,000), and 20,600 antlerless (16,600).
WMU 2D: 11,800 antlered (14,000), and 21,400 antlerless (23,000).
WMU 2E: 6,900 antlered (6,700), and 12,800 antlerless (10,600).
WMU 2F: 9,100 antlered (8,800), and 13,900 antlerless (11,800).
WMU 2G: 8,100 antlered (8,800), and 6,500 antlerless (5,100).
WMU 3A: 5,200 antlered (5,700), and 6,000 antlerless (5,600).
WMU 3B: 7,700 antlered (7,300), and 7,600 antlerless (8,900).
WMU 3C: 8,900 antlered (8,000), and 10,600 antlerless (12,000).
WMU 3D: 6,200 antlered (5,500), and 7,300 antlerless (7,400).
WMU 4A: 5,700 antlered (3,800), and 9,300 antlerless (11,100).
WMU 4B: 5,000 antlered (4,800), and 9,500 antlerless (8,400).
WMU 4C: 8,200 antlered (6,900), and 6,700 antlerless (8,200).
WMU 4D: 8,400 antlered (7,900), and 13,500 antlerless (12,200).
WMU 4E: 8,100 antlered (8,000), and 13,700 antlerless (12,000).
WMU 5A: 4,100 antlered (3,100), and 7,800 antlerless (7,400).
WMU 5B: 9,700 antlered (10,900), and 14,300 antlerless (16,300).
WMU 5C: 9,100 antlered (7,200), and 13,100 antlerless (16,700).
WMU 5D: 2,900 antlered (2,500), and 6,700 antlerless (6,700).
Unknown WMU: 600 antlered (1,090), and 410 antlerless (1,470).

Season-specific 2023-24 deer harvest estimates (with 2022-23 harvest estimates in parentheses) are as follows:

WMU 1A: archery, 4,400 antlered (4,730) and 3,800 antlerless (3,810); and muzzleloader, 100 antlered (70) and 1,000 antlerless (1,390).
WMU 1B: archery, 5,040 antlered (3,970) and 2,610 antlerless (2,950); and muzzleloader, 160 antlered (30) and 790 antlerless (1,250).
WMU 2A: archery, 4,530 antlered (3,620) and 2,600 antlerless (2,060); and muzzleloader, 70 antlered (80) and 1,200 antlerless (1,240).
WMU 2B: archery, 5,320 antlered (4,830) and 8,750 antlerless (6,750); and muzzleloader, 80 antlered (70) and 650 antlerless (850).
WMU 2C: archery, 5,100 antlered (4,410) and 5,040 antlerless (3,900); and muzzleloader, 100 antlered (90) and 1,660 antlerless (1,700).
WMU 2D: archery, 5,610 antlered (6,690) and 4,130 antlerless (4,450); and muzzleloader, 190 antlered (110) and 1,770 antlerless (2,650).
WMU 2E: archery, 3,040 antlered (2,540) and 2,530 antlerless (1,900); and muzzleloader, 60 antlered (60) and 1,070 antlerless (1,100).
WMU 2F: archery, 3,400 antlered (3,250) and 2,090 antlerless (1,930); and muzzleloader, 100 antlered (50) and 1,310 antlerless (1,470).
WMU 2G: archery, 2,670 antlered (2,840) and 1,170 antlerless (1,230); and muzzleloader, 130 antlered (60) and 630 antlerless (1,070).
WMU 3A: archery, 1,830 antlered (2,070) and 970 antlerless (1,030); and muzzleloader, 70 antlered (30) and 530 antlerless (670).
WMU 3B: archery, 3,090 antlered (3,050) and 1,530 antlerless (1,830); and muzzleloader, 110 antlered (50) and 770 antlerless (1,070).
WMU 3C: archery, 3,220 antlered (2,870) and 2,020 antlerless (2,170); and muzzleloader, 80 antlered (30) and 780 antlerless (1,330).
WMU 3D: archery, 2,630 antlered (2,260) and 2,020 antlerless (2,030); and muzzleloader, 70 antlered (40) and 480 antlerless (770).
WMU 4A: archery, 1,820 antlered (1,170) and 1,750 antlerless (1,970); and muzzleloader, 80 antlered (30) and 750 antlerless (1,130).
WMU 4B: archery, 2,470 antlered (2,070) and 2,530 antlerless (2,100); and muzzleloader, 30 antlered (30) and 570 antlerless (800).
WMU 4C: archery, 4,220 antlered (3,450) and 1,770 antlerless (2,170); and muzzleloader, 80 antlered (50) and 430 antlerless (830).
WMU 4D: archery, 3,400 antlered (3,020) and 3,380 antlerless (2,840); and muzzleloader, 100 antlered (80) and 1,020 antlerless (1,260).
WMU 4E: archery, 3,930 antlered (3,610) and 3,310 antlerless (2,800); and muzzleloader, 70 antlered (90) and 990 antlerless (1,100).
WMU 5A: archery, 1,970 antlered (1,390) and 2,480 antlerless (2,460); and muzzleloader, 30 antlered (10) and 520 antlerless (540).
WMU 5B: archery, 6,490 antlered (6,730) and 6,100 antlerless (6,600); and muzzleloader, 110 antlered (70) and 800 antlerless (1,400).
WMU 5C: archery, 6,470 antlered (5,020) and 6,200 antlerless (8,040); and muzzleloader, 130 antlered (80) and 600 antlerless (760).
WMU 5D: archery, 2,480 antlered (2,080) and 4,560 antlerless (4,760); and muzzleloader, 20 antlered (20) and 140 antlerless (140).
Unknown WMU: archery, 240 antlered (100) and 140 antlerless (90); and muzzleloader, 0 antlered (0) and 20 antlerless (0).

* Note: All 2022-23 harvest figures for WMU 2G include harvests for 2G as well as for WMU 2H, which has since been eliminated and combined with 2G.

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