The domination of crossbows over other bows during Pennsylvania’s archery deer season continues to grow.
Last year, archery hunters bagged 59,550 bucks and 49,690 antlerless deer, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission figures.
That combined total accounted for about 32 percent of the state’s overall deer kill of 333,254.
Within the archery harvest, 61 percent of all deer shot were taken with crossbows.
That’s a 10 percent increase from just four years earlier, when crossbows accounted for 51 percent of the total archery kill.
Interestingly, as the crossbow kill has accounted for more and more of the archery harvest, the archery harvest has accounted for more of the overall, annual deer kill. But the growth there has not been as dramatic.
In the 2013-14 season, when the crossbow kill was 51 percent of the total archery harvest, the archery kill accounted for 29 percent of the state’s total deer kill.
Last year, the total archery harvest accounted for 32 percent of the total annual deer kill – a 3 percent increase from four years earlier.
The number of antlerless deer killed from year to year can vary greatly, depending on the antlerless tag allocations.
The annual buck kill is a better comparison of hunter success through the years, because it’s more constant. Every licensed hunter gets one buck tag.
The archery buck kill in 2008-09 was 31,450. That’s the last season before crossbows were made legal for use by anyone in all archery deer seasons.
Given last year’s archery buck kill of 59,550, the annual archery buck kill in Pennsylvania has nearly doubled since crossbows have been introduced.
By comparison, the total buck kill in 2008-09 was 122,410 as compared to 149,460 last year – about a 20 percent increase.
No one’s raising any concerns about the effect of crossbows on Pennsylvania’s deer hunting landscape. As the 2018-19 archery deer season ramps up, I just find it interesting to look at the shift in bowhunting trends in this state.