The Quality Deer Management Association recently released the 2016 Whitetail Report.
In this article, we highlight 15 takeaways from the 2016 Quality Deer Management Association Whitetail Report. Director of Education and Outreach, Kip Adams, Certification Programs Manager, Matt Ross, and other QDMA staff did a phenomenal job acquiring and compiling data of whitetail deer across North America.
The deer report data was collected from whitetail home ranges which include the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and parts of Canada. Because data is still being collected for the 2015-2016 deer season these statistics are for the 2014-2015 season.
Here is what we learned:
1. 4 percent fewer antlered bucks were shot this past year
The total number of bucks taken this past year was 2,609,635, and fewer bucks were shot in 28 of 37 states. According to the report, that's 76 percent of states shot fewer bucks this past year.
2. Kentucky deer hunters set new record in 2014-2015
This comes from the most recent deer season while states like Illinois and Michigan saw an increase in deer harvest as well.
3. Texas ranked highest for antlered buck harvest and antler less harvest
Like they say, "Everything is bigger in Texas," and that's exactly what happened. Texas leads all states in both antlered and antlerless deer harvested.
Texas hunters harvested 325,008 antlered deer this past season with Michigan number two harvesting a mere 178,228 antlered deer. Texas hunters also harvest 265,104 antlerless deer with Georgia in a close second of 262,570 antlerless deer harvested.
4. Arkansas led the nation with the lowest percentage of yearling bucks killed
The amazing thing about this statistic is not only did Arkansas have the lowest percentage of yearling bucks killed at 8 percent, but that Arkansas has led in this category for six of the last seven years according to the whitetail report.
This number is down overall statewide from 62 percent in 1989 to 33 percent this last year.
5. Maine had the lowest antlerless harvest PSM with Maryland being the highest
Maine tied with Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota for the lowest antlerless harvest per square mile at 0.2 with Maryland being the highest at 6.0.
6. Antler-less harvests decreased altogether
According to the "Whitetail Report," antler-less harvest was down altogether with the Southeast harvesting 9 percent fewer antlerless deer, the Midwest harvesting 12 percent fewer and the Northeast shot 14 percent fewer.
7. Less than one in four deer harvested were fawns
The report states that 23 percent of antlerless deer harvested were fawns with the Southeast harvesting the fewest at 15 percent.
8. Highest percentage harvest with a bow was by New Jersey
As more and more hunters are beginning to try out archery hunting we see this number begin to climb, however it also depends on the state regulations and length of season for archery hunting. New Jersey ranked the highest with 57 percent of harvests with a bow and Connecticut ranked second at 48 percent.
9. Michigan confirms first case of CWD
Chronic Wasting Disease is one of the biggest threats to a deer herd, and when Michigan authorities found out about a deer contracting CWD, their worst fears became a reality. Currently, 23 states have cited CWD cases over the years with Michigan being added to that list this year.
10. Bear populations are increasing in every Southeastern state
Predator control is always a big topic, and one of the statistics we see, according to the report, is that bear populations have increased in every state in the Southeast region.
Not all states were included in this predator data, but from the ones that did submit it, we see that coyote populations are increasing or stable, and bobcat populations have done the same with the exception of Minnesota where they have decreased.
11. One officer averaged 250 square miles
This is not a statistic that bodes well for law enforcement considering the amount of terrain they have to cover. Maryland officers had to cover the least amount of land at 28 square miles per officer while North Dakota officers had 1,865 square miles per officer.
12. The Rack Pack
This new deer management curriculum provides students an opportunity to learn about deer management in a number of ways through videos, activities, quizzes and presentations.
13. QDMA Deer Tracker Mobile App
In 2015, the QDMA launched its Deer Tracker Mobile App which enables hunters to log their information by region whether they saw deer or harvested deer. The map generates an infrared map which shows the hot spots for deer activity provided by the app users.
14. QDMA pledged 50K to the Wild Harvest Initiative
The QDMA pledged $50,000 to the Wild Harvest Initiative which is a multi-year coalition led by Conservation Visions Inc., that will study the economic impact that wild game plays in the U.S. and Canada, and what the repercussions will be if that wild game protein was replaced purely by agriculture and livestock.
If you would like to learn more about the Wild Harvest Initiative you can read about it here.
15. More 3.5-year-old bucks and older were shot than yearling bucks for the first time ever
This is great news for hunters all across the nation. Because hunters killed more 3 1/2 year old bucks than yearlings. The deer report data proves deer management is growing and hunters want to see deer grow bigger, so they're letting smaller deer live and grow older. Overall, 34 percent of antlered bucks harvested were at least 3 1/2 years old while 33 percent were yearlings. This has never happened in the history of the QDMA!
If you would like more detailed information about any of these points you can find out more about the 2016 Whitetail Report here.