Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: 308,920 Deer Harvested in 2009-10

Erie hunter Tim Weaver said he saw plenty of big bucks this past hunting season.

But figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on Monday suggest fewer deer overall are being harvested.

Hunters in Pennsylvania killed an estimated 27,000 fewer deer in the 2009-10 seasons than they did a year earlier.

Game Commission figures show the drop was even more significant in northwestern Pennsylvania, where Weaver shot a 10-point Dec. 28 in McKean Township during the flintlock season.

Weaver said the deer he harvested was with five other bucks. Three of them were legal size, including his, meaning they had at least eight points.

The Game Commission's management plan was designed to put more mature antlered deer in the field by limiting the harvest of yearling bucks. It has drawn support from some hunters and criticism from others who believe the state's deer herd has declined.

"It was one of the best years we've ever had hunting," said Weaver, 46. "I would imagine it depends on who you talk to. The guys I hunt with are after trophy-sized deer, so it's been great for us. But if you talk to someone who's strictly a meat hunter, they might say it's been terrible."

The Game Commission's estimates, based on harvest tags returned by hunters and field and processor reports, show a statewide harvest estimate of 308,920 deer, an 8 percent decline from the 335,850 killed in 2008-09.

The commission said hunters killed 108,330 antlered deer, down 12 percent from the 122,410 killed in 2008-09, and 200,590 antlerless deer. Hunters killed 213,440 antlerless deer in 2008-09.

In Wildlife Management Unit 1B, which includes all of Erie County, most of Crawford County and parts of Warren and Venango counties, hunters killed 5,100 antlered deer, a 32 percent drop from the 2008-09 estimate of 7,500. There were 9,500 antlerless deer killed, down from 13,400 in 2008-09 -- a 29 percent decline.

Cambridge Springs resident Dan Young, 34, said he saw far fewer antlerless deer last season and fewer deer overall, but more mature bucks.

"I did find a lot of dead bucks in the woods that weren't legal size," said Young, who primarily hunts during the archery season. "I saw a lot of six-points, which tells me someone shot them and realized they were too small, so they left them there."

Source: GoErie

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