National whitetail report: Buck harvest up, doe harvest down
ATHENS, Ga. – The Quality Deer Management Association‘s 11th annual Whitetail Report, released Wednesday, Jan. 16, indicated that the national buck harvest was on the rise while antlerless harvest fell, tipping the balance in favor of bucks for the first time in nearly two decades.
The update on the status of white-tailed deer included deer harvest trends through the 2017-18 season, the most recent hunting season with complete deer harvest data available from most whitetail states and Canadian provinces.
“The total antlered buck harvest of 2,879,000 in the United States was 2 percent more than the previous season, and 23 of 36 states increased their buck harvest,” QDMA Director of Conservation Kip Adams said. “On the contrary, antlerless harvest was down slightly to 2,827,288. One state’s data did not arrive and was not included in this analysis, but it appears the national buck harvest exceeded the antlerless harvest in the 2017-18 season for the first time since 1998.”
Looking at the age structure of the buck harvest, yearlings (1½ years old) remained at record-low harvest levels around 35 percent while harvest of 3½-year-old and older bucks remained high at 34 percent.
“It’s amazing to realize that one of every three antlered bucks shot in the U.S. is at least 3½ years old when it was one in every five only 15 years before,” said Adams.
Also in the Whitetail Report:
- Sixty-six percent of deer taken in the 2017-18 season were killed with a firearm compared to 23 percent with a bow and 10 percent with a muzzleloader.
- An average of 41 percent of deer hunters were successful, and 15 percent shot more than one deer.
- In harvest per square mile, Maryland hunters shot the most antlerless deer while Michigan hunters shot the most bucks.
- New Jersey hunters had over half of their total deer harvest in the freezer prior to opening day of their firearms season, while Minnesota hunters shot more than a quarter of their entire deer harvest on opening day of their primary firearms season.
Complete state-by-state estimates of total buck harvest, buck age structure, and many other harvest parameters are available in the full Whitetail Report, which also includes a look at numerous other critical issues for whitetails and deer hunters. To download the report for free, click here.
— Quality Deer Management Association