CLARION CO., Pa. (EYT) – Pennsylvania’s first ever Saturday-Sunday opening weekend of deer hunting kicked off strong in our local region.
(Pictured: nine-year-old Ava Aaron and her first buck)
Local resident Ava Aaron bagged her very first buck this year while hunting with her father, Dan Aaron, and her grandfather, Jim Hartzell.
Her father reported Ava wasn’t deterred at all by the wind and the rain and made a great 90-yard shot with her 300 Blackout.
Ava told CookForest.com she was just excited to be able to put food on the table for her family.
Area resident Tyler Tenney bagged a 6-point during the very first hours of the opening day. According to his father, Scott Tenney, it is Tyler’s second buck in two years.
“Two shots and two bucks. With my years of experience, I told him it’s not always this easy,” Tenney said.
Local resident Kayla Burford bagged her very first buck around 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, bringing down the eight point with her 243.
Many other local hunters reported a good start to the season, as well.
Area residents Ron Pacsai, Chris Moore, Kyle Tates, Keith Kniseley, and Tony Bale were among several local hunters who also reported a successful opening weekend.
Local deer processing businesses say they have been extremely busy since Saturday as the local harvest continues.
“Our deer season has been phenomenal,” Darlene Hollenbaugh of Hollenbaugh’s Hometown Meat Market reported.
While Hollenbaugh’s new storefront opened up just this year, they have been processing deer for over 20 years.
Hollenbaugh said they were already full up as of Monday and weren’t accepting any more deer until they clear out some space.
“We just filled up faster this year,” she noted.
Monica Hepler of Hepler’s Meat Processing in Emlenton noted this year was definitely different for them, as well.
“We are at about double where we were this the last year,” Hepler said.
While the influx of business is good, the added day of hunting on Sunday did cause some challenges.
“It made it a bit more difficult for us because we didn’t have Sunday to cut and make room in our coolers, so we got a little backed up.”
Despite the challenge, Hepler said they were working “full steam ahead” to process as many deer as possible.
Randy Alderton of Alderton’s Meat Market in Brookville said he has also had more business so far this year.
“We’re filled up right at the moment, but we’ll get some cut and we’ll be able to take in some more,” Alderton said.
An employee at O’Neil’s Quality Foods in Shippenville said they’d also been very busy taking in deer since Saturday, but didn’t have a current count available.
The new hunting format not only allowed for the first ever Saturday-Sunday opening weekend, but also included other changes, such as concurrent antlered/antlerless hunting in some areas.
There was also a regulatory change to allows hunters to attempt to harvest a second deer before tagging the first, so long as they have the appropriate harvest tags for the deer they attempt to harvest, and no attempt is made to move a deer before it’s tagged.
With 2019 already on record in Pennsylvania as the highest overall deer harvest in 15 years, with 389,431 deer taken during the state’s 2019-20 hunting seasons, the changes could make for another record breaking year.
“The size and quality of bucks running in Penn’s Woods right now, probably hasn’t been duplicated in the Commonwealth in over 150 years,” noted Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “The number of record-book bucks being taken is incredible. In fact, it’s beginning to look like no rack sitting atop record-book listings is unapproachable.