U.S. Hunters Take More Mature Bucks Than Yearlings
U.S. whitetail hunters took more mature bucks than 1½-year-olds or yearlings for the second consecutive year, according to data compiled by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) for its 2017 Whitetail Report.
In the 2015-16 hunting season, the most recent season with complete deer harvest data available from every whitetail state, the percentage of 3½-year-old and older bucks climbed to 35% of the nation’s buck harvest, the highest harvest rate in modern history. That exceeds the rate of harvest for yearling bucks (34%) and the harvest of 2 ½-year-old bucks as well, which was 31%.
“No state wildlife agency employs regulations or encourages hunters to pass anything more than yearling bucks, yet the percentage of bucks 3 ½ years and older now surpasses 1 ½- and 2 ½-yearolds,” said Kip Adams, QDMA’S director of education and outreach. “That means many hunters are willingly passing 2 ½-year-old bucks that are legal to harvest, which shows a desire by many hunters to hunt bucks that are at least 3 ½ years old.”
Of the 28 whitetail states that collect age data on bucks, the top state in harvest of mature bucks for the 2015-16 season was, again, Mississippi, where an incredible 77% of bucks killed were 3 ½ years old or older. Rounding out the top five were Texas at 75%, Arkansas at 74%, Louisiana at 67% and Oklahoma at 60%. These same states achieved some of the lowest rates of yearling-buck harvest in the nation. For the fourth year in a row, Arkansas claimed the lowest rate at only 7%. Arkansas has led the nation in this statistic seven of the last eight years.
Complete state-by-state estimates of total buck harvest, buck age structure, and 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. Download a free PDF of the report at qdma.com.