It’s that time of the year again when hundreds of thousands of sportsmen will hit the fields and forests of Pena’s Woods for deer hunting. According to Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) communications Director Travis Lau, approximately 650,000 hunters pursue deer in the state annually.
The PGC states that statistics compiled by the National Deer Association list Pennsylvania as having the highest hunter density in the nation, with 14.4 deer hunters per square mile in 2021, the last year for which statistics are available.
This is partly due to Pennsylvania’s rich hunting tradition, and robust number of deer in most areas across the Keystone State. “We are in a very productive part of the country for deer, and we have a lot of deer out there,” said David Stainbrook, Game Commission deer and elk section supervisor.
Similar to the previous years, the 2023 firearms season will kick off the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, with Sunday hunting to follow on Nov. 26. The season will then run through Sat., Dec. 9, with no hunting permitted on Sun., Dec. 3.
Hunters are allowed to take one legal antlered buck per year, as well as one antlerless deer for every valid antlerless deer tag that they possess. In most of the state, a buck must have three points to one side to be legal; however, in Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, and 2D in the western part of the state, it must have four to a side.
Shawna Burkett, the PGC sergeant for the Lehigh Valley region, said hunting pressure during archery season was light up until the deer mating season, but there has been a steady increase in participation since then.
“Some great deer have been harvested on public land already, as well as a few bears,” Burkett said. “There are many deer and they are moving. The mast year for acorns has provided lots of food and farmers are beginning to cut the fields, which is changing the (deer) movement patterns across the greater Lehigh Valley.”
PGC Northampton County Game Warden David Furmato said he has seen quite a few big-bodied bucks in the 200-pound range with large sets of antlers getting killed by both vehicles and hunters. As for opening day, he expects to see many hunters out on both public and private lands, especially since all 70,000 antlerless deer tags in Wildlife Management Unit 5C, which encompasses the majority of the Lehigh Valley, have sold out.
“Hunters should expect to see good results for rifle season, as deer numbers look good in the Northampton County and the Lehigh Valley area,” Furmato said.
According to the PGC, the estimated number of deer taken by Pennsylvania hunters during the 2022-23 deer seasons is 422,960. The PGC reports sportsmen killed 164,190 bucks and 258,770 antlerless deer last season.
Author’s Note: This article is solely for information purposes. The embedded links and information shared in the article are attributed to deerassociation.com, pic.pa.gov, and Lehighvalleylive.com.