Deer hunters in the U.S. harvested an estimated 6.3 million white-tailed deer in the 2020-21 seasons
Pennsylvania deer hunters will be interested to know that there have been 6.3 million white-tailed deer harvested in the United States in the 2020-21 hunting season. This figure comes from the latest Deer Report from the National Deer Association (NDA).
The NDA’s report shows that harvests of both antlered bucks and antlerless deer were up over the 2019 season, and the estimated buck harvest of 3,041,544 was the most in 21 years.
According to kip Adams, NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer, “2020 saw the highest buck harvest in the new century and amazingly, we estimate that we set another new record for the percentage of these bucks that were 3-5 years old or older. U.S. hunters are taking fewer yearling bucks and harvesting more of them as mature deer, but this doesn’t mean fewer bucks taken overall. We’re taking older bucks and more bucks than ever in America.”
The NDA report says the steadily climbing percentage of 3-5-year-old and older bucks in the harvest is the result of declining pressure nationwide on yearling bucks (1-5 years old). Only 26 percent of the 2020 antlered buck harvest were yearlings, another new record low in modern history. The total buck harvest of 3,041,544 was up 5.3 percent from the previous season. It’s estimated 41 percent of them were 3-5 years old and older, or 1.2 million.
While hunters took slightly more bucks in total in the record 1999 season, the national harvest at that time was more than 50 percent yearlings. Therefore the 2020 season likely saw the greatest number of mature bucks killed by American hunters in modern history.
Nationally, the antlerless harvest (which includes does and buck fawns) jumped 12 percent from the previous season to 3,207,937, reversing a three-year decline and putting the number back above 3 million for the first time since 2013, says the NDA.
The antlerless harvest estimates also climbed above the antlered buck harvest for the first time since 2016. Modern antlerless harvests first surpassed the buck harvest in the 1999 season and remained there until it dipped slightly below the buck harvest in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“We know 2020 hunting licenses sales increased by about 5 percent over 2019, and those license buyers took home half a million more whitetails than previous season, or an increase of almost 9 percent,” said Adams. “They helped increase the antlerless harvest back above the buck harvest where it needs to be, but they also saw more mature bucks in the woods than ever before. Hunters are clearly reaping the benefits of more naturally balanced age structures in herds across the whitetails range.”
Other interesting facts found in the new Deer Report are as follows:
*65 percent of deer taken in the 2020-21 season were killed with a firearm compared to 26 percent with archery equipment and nine percent with a muzzleloader.
*Texas had the highest total buck harvest of any state in the nation at 449,933, but Alabama had the greatest increase in buck harvest from the previous season of any state, climbing more than 27,000. Pennsylvania had the highest buck harvest in the Northeast at 174,780, while Michigan killed the most in the Midwest at 219,387.
*Delaware increased its buck harvest by the greatest percentage of any state with 57 percent, and Delaware also took over the top spot in the buck harvest per square mile, at 3.9 percent.
*Mississippi killed the most bucks per 100 hunters at 74.
More information from the NDA’s report can be found at www.deerassociation.com/2022-deer-report/.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.