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Hunters are Shooting More Old Bucks, and the Doe Harvest is Up

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Hunters are Shooting More Old Bucks, and the Doe Harvest is Up

Posted 2024-03-19  by  Mike Hanback

That news and other gems topped the list of highlights from the NDA’s 2024 Deer Report

Image: doe_harvest

Some deer hunting trends are expected, and others aren’t. For example, American hunters shot more than 3 million does in 2023-2024. Image by Bill Konway

The National Deer Association’s 2024 Deer Report is hot off the digital press, so let’s get to the meat of it.

The big news: Hunters across America are shooting more mature bucks than ever. In 2022-23, the last season for which complete state harvest records were available, 42% of the bucks shot across North America were 3½ years or older. One out of every three bucks shot in the United States today is at least 3½. Mississippi hunters get the gold star for holding out for a big deer; a whopping 80% of bucks shot in the Magnolia State are 3-1/2 or older.

How many people kill a deer each year? The NDA crunched the numbers and found that 41% of hunters across the country tagged at least one animal in 2022-23. How many people kill two or more deer? The number drops to 17%.

The Southeast again led the country, as 56% of hunters below the Mason-Dixon shot at least one deer. The Midwest was next, as 40% of hunters there were successful. It’s hardest to shoot a deer in the Northeast region, where only 33% of hunters scored.

In 2022-23, hunters across America shot almost 2.96 million bucks, the fourth highest buck kill in the past 10 hunting seasons. The top five states for buck harvest were: Texas, 377,393 bucks; Michigan, 203,704; Pennsylvania, 164,190; Wisconsin, 163,806; and Missouri, 140,735. That’s a trend, because those states were the top five for 2021-22, too.

How many meat hunters shot a deer this past year? Across America, the doe harvest was more than 3 million animals. It’s only the second time the antlerless harvest has topped 3 million in the past 10 years. The big three states for doe harvest: Texas, 303,277; Pennsylvania, 258,770; and Wisconsin, 176,476.

Other gems from the 2024 report:

  • The top state for percentage of the deer harvest by archery (vertical and crossbow): New Jersey, at 65%.

  • The top state for deer killed with a muzzleloader: Rhode Island, 42%.

  • The top state for deer shot with a centerfire rifle: Wyoming, 94%.

  • New in the NDA report this year: The use of drones for scouting deer is legal in 11 states, and drones are legal for recovering dead or wounded deer in 13 states. Check your regulations.

  • Despite drought conditions in many areas this past summer, it was a surprisingly low year for epizootic hemorrhagic disease. Only small and confined outbreaks of EHD were reported in the Midwest.

  • On the chronic wasting disease front, researchers at Mississippi State and the University of Minnesota pioneered a new way to detect CWD prions at scrape sites. Scientists should now be able to test scrape dirt for the disease without having to pull samples from live or dead deer.

Click here for a free download of the 2024 Deer Report. While you’re at it, sign up and become a member of the NDA. The organization is doing stellar work for deer and deer hunters across America.


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