By Greg Levengood


An article titled Big Bucks written by Richard Tate and published in the Morrisons Cove Herald, a small weekly publication in central Pennsylvania. The author, Richard Tate makes a strong case for the number of big bucks killed in recent years in Pennsylvania. He contends that the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Deer Management Plan has established a two-tiered system of hunting between the haves and the have-nots, resulting in a disproportionate number of large bucks being killed on private property. (read article)


While I think Rich makes a valid point, I would also like to add 3 additional factors that have contributed to this trend. First and foremost is the explosion in the use of trail cameras. Virtually every article you read these days about the demise of a big buck invariably begins with the sighting of that deer on a trail cam. This technology has negated the scouting skills that were required and acquired over time to be a consistently successful deer hunter. Today the number of cameras you have seems far more important than the number of days you spend scouting. I know of one well-known hunter who has more than 100 cameras in the woods year-round…..and I’m sure he’s not alone.


The second thing that has contributed to the number of large bucks is the length, but more so the timing of our deer seasons. With archery, muzzleloader, and gun seasons interspersed from mid-September through January, the number of days available to kill those bucks that magically appear on your trail cams seems endless. And unlike years ago, deer seasons are open during the entire rut when large, mature bucks are most vulnerable.


And the last contributor to today’s big buck harvests is crossbows. This highly effective killing tool has neutralized the skills necessary to be an effective bowhunter, and its impact on deer harvests is irrefutable. Crossbow usage has taken the deer hunting industry and game management by storm. With their deadly effectiveness and ease of use – especially for juniors and seniors, their numbers continue to grow each year.


When you add it all up….if you have access to a decent sized parcel of private woodland – maybe you even sweeten it with a food plot; litter it with trail-cams to assess the local deer herd, purchase a crossbow that ‘shoots like a rifle’, and then have the patience to park your butt in a treestand, you too may end up with your smiling face on the pages of Pennsylvania Outdoor News with a Pope & Young buck.