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Changing Deer Seasons

Changing Deer Seasons
10-year-old Lila Styer and her piebald buck.

I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but it seems like things are always changing. Prices have changed, how we shop has changed, society has changed, and even deer seasons have changed. Gas is no longer 29¢ a gallon; we buy online instead of going to the mall; if you wear a red

I guess it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but it seems like things are always changing. Prices have changed, how we shop has changed, society has changed, and even deer seasons have changed. Gas is no longer 29¢ a gallon; we buy online instead of going to the mall; if you wear a red hat, you better be ready to defend yourself, and deer season now starts on a Saturday instead of a Monday.

The Saturday deer season opener has finally come to pass but not without much controversy among the hunting ranks; it’s the first Saturday opener for a Pennsylvania deer firearms season in more than half a century. While many hunters look forward to being able to hunt on that first Saturday, there are also a good number of hunters who are not excited about the change from the Monday opener. Tradition plays a big part in deer hunting, and apparently, some hunting camps were not excited about changing their normal hunting rituals. I even talked to some guys from one camp that said they were going to follow their former practice and still treat Monday as opening day.

How this change to a Saturday opener affects deer harvests and the number of hunters participating on Saturday and other days of the season remains to be seen. The change to a Saturday opener, by the way, is not necessarily a permanent move. The Game Commission will examine the impacts of the Saturday opener, including hunters’ opinions, and then use that information to determine what might happen in 2020.

A couple of scenarios to come about as a result of the change are very likely to be more hunters out on opening day and, no doubt, a higher buck harvest. Of course, a lot depends on the weather, but I suspect that more hunters will be out, and that is especially true of public hunting areas like our state game lands. It stands to reason that with more hunters in the woods, it is also likely that there will be a larger buck harvest. I do my fair share of hunting on public lands where I already encounter too many other hunters, so it will be interesting to how things shape up on this Saturday opener. Also, with the increased harvest, how will that affect future regulations and changes? Will so many bucks be taken under the new regulations that hunting days will have to be dropped from other seasons to prevent over-harvest?

The overall deer take for the 2018-19 deer hunting seasons was 367,159 deer; 226,940 were antlerless deer, and 147,750 were bucks. Last year the buck kill was about 10 percent lower than the 2017-18 buck harvest, which produced 45 percent of the season’s antlered buck kill, but with cooperating weather, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the new Saturday opener surpass that figure. Probably the second-best deer harvest will be the following Saturday when antlerless deer become legal targets.

Speaking of deer harvests, I recently wrote a piece about piebald deer accompanied by a photo of McCabe Kreider with has antlerless piebald he took during the special firearms season. Well, another local youngster has scored on the nice piebald buck pictured in this piece. Ten-year-old Lila Styer, daughter of Richard and Michele Styer, dropped the piebald buck pictured here. She got the deer at 7:30 in the morning with a crossbow while hunting with her dad from their treestand. Last year Lila bagged a nine-point buck. They plan to get a half-body mount. Congratulations to Lila.

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