Dave Muscia | Mossy Oak ProStaff
A state’s deer hunting history, the number of hunters who hunt in the state, the hunting traditions in that state and the statewide deer management program dictate your odds for taking a mature buck.
Before Pennsylvania’s legalization of crossbow hunting during deer bow season, I could hunt public state game lands and only see one to three bowhunters during the entire bow season for deer. But since crossbows were legalized for hunting deer, I see many more hunters during bow season than I’ve ever seen before. However, even with the legalization of crossbows, I still see fewer deer hunters during archery season than I do during gun/deer season.
Pennsylvania’s archery season usually begins around the first of October and generally continues until the second week of November. Then Pennsylvania offers two weeks of gun season. This year gun season opened November 27 and ended the second Saturday after that. A few days after Christmas, we have a flintlock season for deer and a second archery season that comes in and lasts a few weeks. We do have one muzzleloader season that’s usually for antlerless deer only. That season usually is for one week in October.
If I didn’t live in Pennsylvania and wanted to hunt older-age-class bucks, I would decide to hunt with a bow. Then I’d call or contact the Game Commission to find out when the state tended to have the least amount of bowhunting pressure. I’d plan to walk to my stand for at least 45 minutes to an hour to get well away from a parking area, a road or other public access areas. I’d also hunt the early bow season as well as the late bow season.