2018 Virginia Deer Harvest

Va ethan drop club 6

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.

Ohio Bowhunter Builds Incredible Fighting Buck Mount!

Last November bowhunter Lee Fackler shot a huge 17-point buck in Putnam County, Ohio, but in reality he scored a 27-pointer. As you can see below, Lee’s buck had a recently expired 10-point buck entangled with it. Lee tagged his buck and called in the Ohio DNR, which gave him a salvage tag for the second deer.

UPDATE: Lee recently picked up the 2 heads, which his taxidermist had mounted separately. Lee went home and built this awesome display and fitted the bucks back together in fighting form as he had encountered them that day last November.

Incredible job sir, looks amazing!

Special thanks to Nikisha Fackler for providing these pictures

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5 Massive Deadhead Bucks

Some shed hunters that roam the woods from now till early spring will find “deadheads,” or the skulls and antlers of bucks that died months earlier. A deadhead might have perished of any number of causes: hit by a car, lost by a bowhunter the previous season, winterkill, predators or natural causes.

Most deadhead finds are small to medium-size, but each year a few people stumble upon massive skulls, like these 5.

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This first picture popped up on my Twitter feed yesterday and is the first mega-deadhead of the 2019 shed season. It was found in southwest Ohio.

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The top skull of 2018 also showed up on Twitter last winter. @Tylerknott4 posted:Never know what you will find in the woods of Iowa! Found this giant shed hunting. Gross scored 205.

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I never got many details about the 190-class double-drop skull that was found in 2016, but what a monster!

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In early 2014, a hunter named Drew sent this picture of a tremendous buck he had been hunting for 3 years. “A truly remarkable animal that we called Moose,” Drew wrote. “Unfortunately, Moose died due to another bowhunter’s mistake (not mine) and we recovered his body and antlers this spring. Drew says the rack was scored at 252 1/8″ and that “was after squirrels had chewed off 20 inches during the winter.” Scorers think it might have been the 6th overall biggest buck to be harvested by any means in Ohio.

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In 2011 some guys were bird hunting in southeastern Kansas and came upon a mud pit, where they saw just a little piece of the left beam sticking up in the mud. After a closer look they realized it was a whole deer buried in the pit.

They dug out the skull and it was in good shape; they figured the mud had protected the rack from the weather and animals. They rough-scored it at 164 gross with only a 10” inside spread…6 points on the right beam, 9 on the left and the spike in the middle with a fork on it!

Remember if you stumble across a skull and antlers (any size) this spring and want to take it home, chances are you’ll need to get a salvage permit.

Good hunting!

Top 10 Deer Bowhunting States

ohio gary nov 8 2018The QDMA’s 2019 Whitetail Report points out that bowhunting for whitetails has never been more popular. In 2002 only 15 percent of the total whitetail harvest in America was taken with archery tackle; that percentage rose to 23 percent in 2017.

Check out these numbers from 2019 report:

The 5 states with the most bowhunters are: 1) Pennsylvania (339,600 bowhunters); 2) Michigan (311,000); 3) Wisconsin (246,211); 4) New York (231,000); 5 Missouri (222,717).

The 6 states with the most bowhunters per square mile are: Pennsylvania (7.6 bowhunters PSM; 2) New Jersey (5.9); 3 Michigan (5.5); 4) New York (4.9): 5) Ohio (4.5); 6) Wisconsin (4.5).

The top 5 states with the highest percentage of annual deer harvest with archery tackle: 1) New Jersey (58% of total deer harvest in 2017); 2) Massachusetts (43%); 3) Ohio (43%); 4) Illinois (39%); 5) Kansas (37%).

I add that all the archery statistics above include both vertical bow (mostly compound) and crossbow. Love it or hate it, no doubt the modern crossbow has increased hunter numbers and the popularity of bowhunting, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

 

 

 

 

Are Crossbow Hunters Killing Too Many Bucks?

crossbow for webBack in 2014, I blogged that Wisconsin was the latest major whitetail state to permit the use of the crossbow during the regular archery season. Since then, the crossbow season in the state has run concurrently with the archery season, typically mid-September through December.

One of the original complaints from traditionalists and vertical bowhunters at the time was that crossbow hunters would kill too many bucks. There is no denying that it is easier (and takes less practice) to kill a deer with a crossbow than with a compound or recurve.

Well, 5 years later, with crossbow technology having increased tenfold, turns out those fears might have been warranted.

WKOW in Madison reports that at a recent Wisconsin Natural Resources Board meeting, Director of Wildlife Management Eric Lobner reported that crossbow hunters today are killing a larger share of bucks.

The solution would be to “reduce your crossbow harvest by 5,000 to 6,000 animals.”

Lobner presented options for changing the crossbow season, such as ending the crossbow hunt earlier than bow season, to starting the crossbow season later, and even to banning the use of crossbows on weekends.

Adding another layer to the controversy, complaints are coming from gun hunters as well as vertical bowhunters. Many gun hunters think crossbow hunters are killing too many bucks during the rut and before firearms season opens, lessening their chances.

At the center of the new crossbow debate is advanced technology. The improved power, range and efficiency of the crossbow combined with the long deer season accounts for the higher buck kill in WI.

Two things complicate this discussion even more: 1) the ongoing loss of people hunting and buying licenses these days; and 2) a concern for adding more red tape and confusion to the hunting regulations.

No doubt that expanded crossbow seasons, in WI and other states, have increased hunter participation and retention. If you restrict crossbow use, you will no doubt lose a number of hunters. With hunter numbers down significantly across the U.S., the hunting and conservation world cannot afford this.

Also, WI DNR data show that complicated and confusing game regulations and red tape drive people away and may reduce the number of people buying a hunting license, saying it’s not worth it anymore.

Upcoming public comment periods and hearings on proposed crossbow season changes are sure to be raucous and controversial, with both crossbow proponents and critics pounding their opinions and positions. And you can bet other state DNRs and hunting clubs are watching what happens in Wisconsin.

The new crossbow debate is back in 2019. How do you feel about it?