Buck harvest up across the state thanks to archery hunters

March 18, 2017

The much-anticipated deer harvest report was released this week by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, with officials saying the state had its best buck season since 2002.

Perhaps that was true in other parts of the state – perhaps – but it certainly wasn’t the case here in Southwestern Pa., judging from what I saw and heard throughout the season.

The commission, however, says the harvest in the southwest was only slightly down last season. In fact, it estimates the buck harvest in Wildlife Management Units 2A and 2B, which take in Washington and Greene counties, increased by 1,100 last year. The estimates did have the doe kill down 2,300, so we had a lower net take of 1,200, but even that seems to be off.

While afield this year, I heard fewer shots than ever before. And the deer processors I spoke with all said their numbers were way down this year.

Somehow, the area had an increase in the buck kill that was at 9 percent, which was right in line with the rest of the state.

Across the state, the commission said the harvest was 333,254 deer during the multiple seasons. Of that, 149,460 were buck, according to the commission.

And bowhunters reportedly accounted for 109,250 deer this year.

In WMUs 2A and 2B, archery hunters were credited with 2,440 and 4,260 kills, respectively.

If that’s the case, archery hunters accounted for over one-third of the bucks harvested in WMU 2A and nearly 75 percent in WMU 2B, which includes Allegheny County and the northeastern corner of Washington County.

And the commission wonders why it is having issues keeping youths involved in hunting.

While I have nothing against archery hunters, having participated in the sport myself, even the most ardent of archery supporters have to admit it requires more skill – and thus more practice – than hunting with a rifle.

But for the past decade or so, archery hunters also have had access to using crossbows, which takes a lot of the previously required skill out of the equation.

While you certainly don’t have the range of a rifle, modern crossbows are nearly foolproof. Load the bolt, point and shoot.

And the archery hunters are still given the advantages of being permitted to hunt a full month ahead of the rifle season while the deer are presumably in the midst of their mating season.

This is not to be meant as a rant against archery hunters. But they are given plenty of advantages and the numbers certainly bear that out.

• Avella senior Becca Spencer has been on fire of late in the Pittsburgh and Suburban Rifle League.

She fired her first career 300 a couple of weeks ago. She repeated the feat last week, notching her second 300 in a Frazier-Simplex win over Murrysville. Frazier-Simplex leads the league with a 17-1 record.

Haley Wilkerson and Jim Mounts fired 294s, while Sylvia Dreistadt and John Husk had 293s.

Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club (15-3) also picked up another win, this one over third-place Green Valley, with Dean Trew shooting a 295, Tom Benedict and Matt Piatt 294, Curtis Tuner at 293 and Dan Francis 291.

• This is just a reminder that the mandatory life jacket requirement is in effect through April 30 for those in boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak while underway or at anchor.

Outdoors editor Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com.

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