Despite the highest Pennsylvania deer harvest numbers in more than a dozen years, the buck harvest percentage still saw a drop.
The high marks also coincided with a 10 percent decline in overall buck harvest, a noteworthy decrease in the state's success rate for antlered deer.
This ended a streak of four consecutive years of buck harvest increases. The buck harvest of 147,750 placed fourth overall since the state initiated antler restrictions in 2002.
Experts from the state Game Commission suspected a cold and rainy opening day of the firearms season contributed to the buck harvest decline. The opener is often the most successful day of the entire season, and when bad weather puts a dent in hunter participation numbers, it can have an effect.
"This year's opening day antlered harvest was down significantly from last year's harvest," said Christopher Rosenberry, Game Commission Deer and Elk Section supervisor. "Although the rest of the firearms season's daily harvests were similar to or above last year's, they did not make up for the low opening day harvest."
The 2018-19 overall antlerless deer harvest by Pennsylvania hunters was 226,940, which is about 10 percent larger than the 2017-18 harvest.
Approximately 66 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females. That was followed by button-bucks (17 percent), and doe fawns (17 percent).
All of these deer harvest estimates will be used to inform the Game Commission while developing its 2019 antlerless deer license recommendations. All in all, Pennsylvania's deer hunting tradition seems to be continuing on strong, with its overall largest harvest in nearly a decade and a half. Will it keep stretching into future seasons?