Store reports good first day of buck season

December 02, 2003|by DON AINES

FORT LOUDON, Pa. - The size and number of bucks being brought by Keystone Country Store on the first day of deer season Monday impressed Kevin Schoenberger, one of the owners of the popular sporting goods store.

"We had 22 bucks brought in today, which is excellent for the first day," Kevin Schoenberger said at about 4 p.m., four hours before the store was due to close. "It's one of the best first days I can remember in a long time."

Unlike many other states, Schoenberger said Pennsylvania does not require hunters to check in their deer at stations, "but a lot of people like to stop in and get them weighed."


The season officially began at sunrise and the first buck was brought in at about 8 a.m., Schoenberger said. The largest, he said, measured 159 pounds and one hunter bagged a 10-pointer.

"If today is any indication, I'd say the antler restrictions have helped," Schoenberger said. Most of the animals being brought in are averaging eight points, he said.

Last year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission restricted the hunting of spike bucks, requiring an animal have at least three points on one side of its rack for it to be legally harvested.

The idea behind the restrictions was to allow more bucks to survive their first year, thus producing more and larger animals with bigger racks. The point restrictions preserved about 40,000 more bucks for this season, according to game commission estimates.

The game commission estimates the state's deer herd at around 1.6 million. Gary Alt, the supervisor of the commission's deer management section, estimates that as much as 93 percent of annual buck herds were being killed before they were 18 months old.

At Gummo's Butcher Shop outside of State College, Pa., the number of deer brought in for processing was about on par with years past, but hunters were bringing in more trophy bucks.

"I'm getting some really big bucks in here that three years ago you would've had mounted," said owner Barry Gummo. "The hunters were grumbling a lot last year when the new rules came, but I haven't heard a lot of bad things from them this year."

Harold Keefer, of Fort Loudon, said he had seen a good number of trophy bucks on his own property this year.

"I'm 80 years old, I have been hunting since I was 16 and the way I figure, the Game Commission is doing more things right now than ever before," Keefer said.

At Gummo's, about 50 deer had been brought in by 3 p.m. By the end of the day, Barry Gummo said he expected to take in 150 to 200 deer, which is about average.

Keystone holds an annual big buck contest through Dec. 13 when the season ends, according to Schoenberger. He said that is followed by a "horn measuring party" on Saturday, Dec. 20, when hunters come by the store for refreshments and to show off their trophies.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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