Declining Deer Numbers
All images by Brad Smith

It Could Be Time for Hunters to Share Blame for Declining Deer Numbers

It's not all the state's fault. We hunters share the blame for declining deer numbers, too.

For the last couple of years, more and more hunters have been complaining about declining deer numbers all over the country. By large part, the data backs it all up, but the reasons of why this is happening are as varied by the states in which the deer live.

Most say it's due to outbreaks of CWD, hard winters, predation or just flat-out mismanagement by their state. However, this season, I think it's time hunters take a long look in the mirror and do something about it.

The QDMA has put out a ton of studies on this very issue. Shooting too many does is bad for deer numbers on your property and shooting does is exactly what your state wants.


Big insurance companies also may have something to do with it. By lobbying to keep increasing harvest totals in an effort to reduce vehicle collisions, the money flow has been loud and clear. The sad part of this is that hunters go right along with it.

In one county where I hunt, I'm allowed to harvest eight does. Why in the world would anyone need to harvest eight does? However, many people do. Again...why?


Not only are other hunters taking those eight does, they are taking all those buck and doe yearlings from those does the following year. My state even opened up a doe-only extended weekend hunt at the end of the season when all those does that lived during archery, gun, and muzzleloader have been bred.

It's pretty much a massacre.

These same hunters shooting every doe they see are the ones complaining the loudest right now that deer numbers are down.


So here's the rub. Stop shooting does!

Sure, take your buck. If you still need more venison to make it through to next year, take a doe. Filling all your tags just to donate venison is destroying the herd around you.

Of course it's good to fill food pantries. However, using that as an excuse to kill deer would make Issak Walton roll over in his grave.

I understand I may be preaching to the choir here and this may not apply to most reading this. However, maybe it's time you have a talk with the guy who hunts next to you.

The state manages the entire deer herd from border to border. You manage the deer where you hunt.

Who do you think has the most immediate impact?