HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania hunters took an estimated 435,180 deer in the 2020-21 hunting seasons, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reported today. The 2020-21 estimated harvest topped the previous license year’s harvest of 389,431 by about 12 percent. Since 1993, Pennsylvania hunters have harvested more than 400,000 deer in a license year 10 times.
The statewide buck harvest — 174,780 – set a new record in the antler restrictions era. The buck harvest also increased 7 percent over the previous license year’s buck harvest of 163,240.
“About a quarter of the state’s deer hunters took a buck in the 2020-21 deer seasons,” noted David Stainbrook, the Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section supervisor. “It’s a trend that hunters have maintained over the past three license years. The fact that we can maintain such high success rates on bucks year after year demonstrates the sustainability of the deer population in Pennsylvania.”
The percentage of older bucks in the 2020-21 deer harvest remained high. About 64 percent of the bucks taken by hunters were at least 2½ years old. The remainder were 1½ years old.
“The Commonwealth’s antler restrictions have succeeded in providing more older bucks for Pennsylvania’s deer hunters,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “In place since 2002, they have transformed the smaller bucks that once dominated our deer harvests into a buck population that is the envy of deer hunters everywhere.
“Anyone who hunted deer before antler restrictions can see the results. But it’s important to recognize that these bucks are a product of a well-managed deer herd and their existence hinged on the willingness of deer hunters to support antler restrictions.”
The antlerless deer harvest for the 2020-21 seasons was 260,400. It exceeded the 2019-20 antlerless deer harvest – 226,191 – by 15 percent.
About 68 percent of the antlerless deer harvest was adult females; button-bucks comprised 17 percent and doe fawns made up 15 percent.
Bowhunters accounted for over a third of Pennsylvania’s 2020-21 overall deer harvest taking 160,480 deer (80,130 bucks and 80,350 antlerless deer) with either bows or crossbows.
The estimated muzzleloader harvest – 28,260 – was down slightly from the previous year’s harvest of 29,604.