PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Monday marks the official start of deer season in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that 750,000 people are expected to hunt during the next two weeks.

Before first light, they were in the woods and waiting. Bob Spiele of Penn Hills had to watch several does walk by his tree stand before his buck arrived.

“About 20 minutes later, I heard him come up through the woods,” Spiele said. “He came right past my stand, and I took a shot and he dropped. One shot and he went down.”

A trophy for the taxidermist, in contrast to years of disappointment.

“You don’t see these things often,” he said. “Oh yeah, you’re pumped up.”

Ryan Holmer and five-year-old Ryan, Jr., went into the state game lands with first light. It was Ryan, Jr.’s first time hunting, but they didn’t see anything. They came out for lunch, vowing to try again in the afternoon.

“I usually process it and make all kinds of meat,” Holmer said.

“A nice-sized buck will average anywhere between 170 and 180 pounds,” Dave Elluinger of Elluinger’s Meats said.

The Game Commission estimates just less than 1 million hunters went into the woods Monday.

“Hunters are absolutely crucial,” said Dan Puhala, a conservation officer with the state Game Commission. “If you think about the number of deer that get hit on the highway throughout a given year, imagine if there wasn’t a hunting season for one or two seasons and the number of deer tripled or quadrupled in that period of time.”

To that end, the state set up special zones in some areas to give hunters a heads up where they’d have their best chance at a deer. The hunters coming into Elluinger’s were among the fortunate on day one.

“It’s the best day to be out,” Mike Jankowski of McKean said. “Most deer are killed on the first day of hunting season.”

The season continues through December 12th.

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