Southerners Shoot the Oldest Bucks, Texans Bag the Most Does, and More Highlights from the 2023 NDA Deer Report

Brow Tines and Backstrap

Southerners Shoot the Oldest Bucks, Texans Bag the Most Does, and More Highlights from the 2023 NDA Deer Report

Posted 2023-02-10T23:15:00Z

The 2023 report from the National Deer Association shows the state of the whitetail union is still pretty strong

The state of the deer hunting union is strong ... mostly. Image by Tony Campbell

The National Deer Association's 2023 Deer Report is hot off the press, and it's jam-packed with interesting information for us whitetail nuts.

First, the most recent data on the buck harvest across America. Hunters in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest regions combined killed a total of 2,969,596 whitetail bucks during the 2021-22 season. While that's about 72,000 fewer bucks than were tagged the previous season, the 2021-22 harvest is the fourth highest buck kill in the past 10 seasons.

The data shows that an impressive 40% of the whitetail bucks harvested across the nation were 3½ years of age or older. Hunters in the Southeast get the gold star for passing yearlings and shooting more mature deer; 84% of the bucks tagged in Dixie in 2021-22 were 2½ years or older.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Top five states for total buck harvest: Texas (447,972 bucks); Michigan (223,476); Wisconsin (153,112); Pennsylvania (145,320); Missouri (143,815).
  • Top 3 states for doe harvest: Texas (379,958 antlerless); Pennsylvania (231,490); Alabama (177,842).
  • Top three states with highest percentage annual whitetail harvest on private land: 1) Texas (99%); Georgia (97%); North Carolina (97%).
  • Top three states with highest percentage annual harvest on public land: 1) Massachusetts (43%); New Jersey (30%); Rhode Island (28%).
  • Annual deer harvest across U.S. by type of weapon: Firearm (66%); archery (25%); muzzleloader 9%).
  • Top states for percentage of annual harvest by archery (vertical and crossbow): New Jersey (64%) and Connecticut (51%).
  • Top states for percentage of harvest by muzzleloader: Rhode Island (49%) and Virginia (23%).
  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was discovered for the first time ever in Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina in 2022. Two states, Kentucky and Oklahoma, were prompted to activate their CWD response plan after detection of a CWD-positive deer in a neighboring state.
  • Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) has now been confirmed in free-ranging whitetails in 24 states. Summer/fall of 2022 was a light to moderate year for HD, with the most notable outbreaks in southern Indiana and southern Ohio. New Hampshire documented its first-ever case of HD in a wild whitetail deer.
  • NEW CONCERN: High levels of a man-made pollutant called perfluoro octane sulfonic acid, which is the most common form of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), were discovered within wild deer in some locations, causing a few state agencies to issue Do Not Eat advisories. These chemicals are widely used and break down slowly over time. Experts continue to study and learn about PFAS, and close monitoring is required in the future.
  • The NDA asked state and provincial wildlife agencies to list their biggest issues/concerns relating to deer management in the future. The top three issues by far were: 1) CWD; 2) hunter access to available lands; and 3) declining hunter numbers.

Click here for a free download of the entire 2023 Deer Report.

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