The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) released its 11th annual Whitetail Report, a comprehensive update on the status of white-tailed deer including deer harvest trends through the 2017-18 season, the most recent hunting season with complete deer harvest data available from most whitetail states and Canadian provinces.
QDMA’s report reflects a lot of what we recently reported here in my column entitled “Local deer take survey shows lots of 8-pointers taken.”
Overall, the national buck harvest was on the rise while antlerless harvest fell, tipping the balance in favor of bucks for the first time in 18 years.
“The total antlered buck harvest of 2,879,000 in the United States was 2 percent more than the previous season, and 23 of 36 states increased their buck harvest,” said Kip Adams, QDMA Director of Conservation. “On the contrary, antlerless harvest was down slightly to 2,827,288. One state’s data did not arrive and was not included in this analysis, but it appears the national buck harvest exceeded the antlerless harvest in the 2017-18 season for the first time since 1998.”
Looking at the age structure of the buck harvest, yearlings (1? years old) remained at record low harvest levels around 35 percent while harvest of 3?-year-old and older bucks remained high at 34 percent.
“It’s amazing to realize that one of every three antlered bucks shot in the U.S. is at least 3? years old when it was one in every five only 15 years before,” said Adams.
Among other facts to be found in the new Whitetail Report:
* 66 percent of deer taken in the 2017-18 season were killed with a firearm compared to 23 percent with a bow and 10 percent with a muzzleloader.
* An average of 41 percent of deer hunters were successful, and 15 percent shot more than one deer.
* In harvest per square mile, Maryland hunters shot the most antlerless deer while Michigan hunters shot the most bucks.
* New Jersey hunters had over half of their total deer harvest in the freezer prior to opening day of their firearms season, while Minnesota hunters shot more than a quarter of their entire deer harvest on opening day of their primary firearms season.
Complete state-by-state estimates of total buck harvest, buck age structure, and many other harvest parameters are available in the full Whitetail Report, which also includes a look at numerous other critical issues for whitetails and deer hunters.
QDMA’s 2018 Whitetail Report is available for download free on the QDMA website at this link:
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.