Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TENNESSEE NEWS: Record Deer Harvest

Tennessee Deer Hunters Break All-Time Record
Excellent year breaks previous harvest record by slim margin
by Richard Simms
posted January 16, 2007

Tennessee deer hunters have broken an all-time record... barely.

As of Tuesday morning TWRA's Deer Harvest database shows that 179,819 deer have been harvested and checked in by hunters. The previous record set during the 2004-2005 season was 179,542. Chances are a few more deer harvest records will filter in but it is clear that it has been an outstanding year for Tennessee deer hunters.

State deer biologist Daryl Ratajczak said, "the weather was very cooperative for deer hunters, especially on key opening weekends when the most hunters take to the woods. Hunting was a little easier this year because we had less of a mast crop and hunters were able to pattern deer a little more."

Records show that 44 percent of all Tennessee deer hunters killed at least one deer this season, he said.

"We’d like to increase that number. We’d love to see more hunters successful," he added. "But we think the opportunity is out there. It’s really based more on the limitations of the hunter. I don’t know how much we can do about that."

Many hunters in Tennessee killed more than one deer this year. More than 400 have registered more than 10 deer each.

Chattanooga-area deer hunters have done well. In Hamilton County, hunters have taken 1,563 deer, higher than any other metro county.

Deer herds have clearly become too large in a large portion of Middle Tennessee, according to TWRA, which has established a special Unit L hunting area with especially liberal bag limits.

Partially due to a growing deer herd and better opportunities, there is a growing movement among hunters to be more selective, passing up smaller bucks so they can grow larger. This year more than 50 percent of the bucks killed have been at least 2 1 /2 years old, with seven- or eight-point antlers.

"That’s great to see those older deer increasing," Ratajczak said. "Keep in mind those older, smarter deer are harder to harvest. We don’t have a specific goal for harvest of our older age bucks, but we’re very happy with what we’re seeing now. We want to maintain where we’re at."

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