Thursday, March 26, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: Record Deer Harvest in 2008

A record 253,678 deer were checked in by hunters in Virginia in 2008, topping 242,792 deer reported killed last year and 16 percent higher than the average of 212,780 deer killed by hunters over the last decade. This number should go even higher once deer taken during the late urban archery or special late antlerless-only deer seasons are tabulated.

Deer take is up in all regions and especially higher in the Tidewater, which notched an 8 percent increase. Overall, 111,863 antlered bucks, 22,291 button bucks and 119,524 does were recorded. Does made up 47.3 percent of the overall harvest.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries provided a breakout of the deer kill by season. Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 17,881 deer, or 7 percent of the total. Crossbow hunters took 9,597 deer or 4 percent of the total. Muzzleloader hunters killed 57,038 deer, which equates to 22 percent of the total deer harvest.

The telephone and Internet checking systems have been seeing about a 4 percent increase in use since 2004-05, and this past season saw 160,000 deer (or 63 percent of the total) checked this way.

Virginia's deer management plan emphasizes taking does as a means of stabilizing herd populations. Female deer kill numbers have been at record levels for the past six years and, for the past two deer seasons, the overall harvest increases have come from antlerless deer.

Beyond having liberal antlerless bag limits and emphasizing the need for doe harvest, programs such as the "Earn a Buck" regulation require hunters to kill antlerless deer before taking an antlered buck in some localities. Below is a table depicting harvest trends in the Fredericksburg region.


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