Joe Kosack/PA Game Commission

Pennsylvania Hunters Harvest the Most Bucks in 15 Years

Pennsylvania hunters harvested 149,460 antlered deer last season. That is a 9% increase from the 2015 - 2016 season. In Fact, it is the highest total since 203,247 antlered deer were taken in 2001 - 2002.

This was the largest buck harvest since the adoption of antler restrictions. The Pennsylvania Game Commission began enforcing antler restrictions prior to the 2002 -2003 season. Current restrictions require a buck to have three on-inch points on one side for most of the state. Certain areas require three points excluding the brow tine.

Overall deer harvest totals were up roughly 17,000 deer, or 6% according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. A total of 333,254 deer were harvested in Pennsylvania. Of those, 109,250 were taken with archery equipment. 59,550 of the reported bow kills were bucks. Meanwhile, only 1,350 antlered deer were harvested during muzzleloader season.

Of all the bucks harvested by Pennsylvania hunters, some were true trophies. Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said, "Not only was there an increased deer harvest and a significantly higher buck harvest, I saw hundreds of photos from hunters who took their buck-of-a-lifetime this past season. Among them was a hunter whose Clearfield County harvest shattered the state record for nontypical bucks taken with archery tackle."

Arthur Zerbe needed just three days of archery season to take his buck-of-a-lifetime. Zerbe harvested a buck that scored north of 200" in Chester County this past September.

pennsylvania hunters

208" Buck from Chester County. Photo courtesy of Mark Keyser.

As a resident hunter of Pennsylvania, it is refreshing to see positive hunting reports about the Keystone state. We do not get all the hype and attention that our neighbors in the Midwest do when it comes to hunting whitetails. After a decade and a half of antler restrictions, the overall quality of the herd is improving. Hopefully this will be a trend for years to come that more and more Pennsylvania hunters will tag a mature buck. I can speak from experience, as one of those 149,460 bucks had my tag on it.