PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – The number of deer harvested in Pennsylvania last hunting season were their lowest in several years, while the deer that are being harvested are reportedly bigger.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s annual report, the estimated total of white-tailed deer harvested during the 2021-22 season was 376,810. That estimate was down from the more than 435,000 harvested in 2020-21 and more than 389,000 harvested the season prior.

The Game Commission says last season’s numbers are more in line with the 2017-19 harvests.

Of the antlered deer harvested last season, 62% were at least two years old, a change the Game Commission says is significant compared to the late 1990s when only 20 percent of the antlered harvest was 2 years old or older.

Last season it’s estimated 17% of licensed hunters took a buck while 25% of antlerless licenses were used to tag an anterless deer.

The Game Commission estimates only 78% of license holders hunted deer last season.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans says the deer being harvested in Pennsylvania “are larger – in body and antler size – than most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime, indicating a truly robust and healthy deer herd, and the product of years of scientific-backed management decisions.”

A new whitetail record was also set in 2022 with a score of 204-6/8 pictured in the annual report. There were 182 deer added to four categories in the 2022 records.

The Game Commission estimates there were between six to nine deer harvested per square mile last season. A 2023 National Deer Association report found Pennsylvania ranked fourth nationwide in antlered deer harvest, and third in the antlered harvest per-square mile. For antlerless deer, Pennsylvania ranked second in total deer harvest, and first in antlerless harvest per-square mile.

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The state has nearly one million hunters that contribute more than $1.5 billion to the state’s economy across multiple seasons. Pennsylvania has more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands