In my home state of Virginia last season, hunters harvested 190,636 deer, including 96,239 antlered bucks, 12,342 button bucks, and 82,055 does.
Bowhunters killed 26,676 of those deer. For the first time since crossbows became legal for all archery hunters in fall 2005, the number of whitetails taken with crossbows exceeded the number taken with vertical bows.
Blackpowder hunters shot 43,749 deer during the popular November muzzleloader season. Firearms hunters (rifles and shotguns) killed 120,074 deer, or 63% of the total.
Approximately 161,800 deer (85%) were checked using the Department’s electronic telephone and Go Outdoors Virginia online checking portal.
Virginia Deer Project Coordinator Matt Knox expected the fall 2018 harvest total to be down for 2 reasons. First, much of the Commonwealth experienced heavy rain and/or high winds on several of the big deer hunting weekends.
Second, the continued steady decline in the number of licensed deer hunters in Virginia inevitably results in fewer animals being harvested. In a worrisome trend, Virginia has lost one-third of its deer hunters (300,000 down to 200,000) in the last 25 years.
As is the case in all states, a portion of this decline can be related to the “baby boomers” get older and retiring from hunting.