Some 550,000 Pennsylvania hunters will take to state parkland and farmer-owned private woods Monday as the season begins for deer-hunting with guns, said Bryan Burhans, executive director of the state Game Commission.
"It's going to be a good year for hunters, maybe one of the best in the last 20 years," Burhans said. "There are a lot of bucks out there. The chances to take a trophy buck this year are better than ever."
Opening day in Pennsylvania is like no other, Burhans said. "In this state, it's almost like a holiday," Burhans said. "People take off. Some schools are closed. Businesses close down."
And the first day is significant, he added.
In 2015-16, 27 percent of all the deer killed - and 47 percent of the bucks killed - occurred on the opening day.
Deer population is up in the state, due in part to mild temperatures last year, Burhans said. The number of male deer is up 9 percent, he said.
The season lasts until Dec. 9.
Last year, 149,460 antlered deer were shot, the second-largest number since 2002. There were 183,796 antlerless deer slain. In all, 333,256 were killed.
Among the states, Pennsylvania had the third-highest tally of deer killed last year, way behind Texas (722,044 deer) and slightly behind Michigan (341,288).
Caleb Baney, a manager at the Little Sportsman Shop, in Point Township outside State College, said business has picked up significantly as opening day approaches.
"People are excited," Baney said. "I'm ready too. I'll be out there on Monday as well."
Typically, deer hunters will use a bolt-action or pump-action rifle, Baney said.
Baney has been hunting since he was a child growing up in western New York.
"Hunting is just something I've always done," he said. "I feel comfortable in this environment, in this weather, although I prefer it a bit colder."