Indiana Deer Harvest Outlook
Deer management biologist Jim Mitchell said hunters can expect deer to be abundant over the state as a whole, despite the dry weather. “With the recent rains, the effect of the drought (on deer hunting) should be negligible for much of the state,” he said.
Indiana Deer Harvest Trends
Deer hunters harvested 125,381 Indiana deer during the ’06 season, slightly fewer than the 125,526 deer harvested during the ’05 season. DNR deer research biologist Chad Stewart has observed a few trends emerging from the last several season’s deer harvest statistics. Stewart predicted Indiana’s overall deer harvest numbers will remain steady; however, Indiana’s ’06 antlered deer harvest dropped 6.5 percent to 49,094 deer from ’05, while the antler-less harvest of 76,287 deer increased 4 percent from ’05.
“The continued success of the bonus antler-less tags is probably most responsible for the high antler-less harvests we have been seeing the past couple of years,” Stewart said. “Hunters are helping us minimize problems in local areas experiencing crop depredation or vehicle accident problems.
“Over time, liberal use of antler-less tags in these areas should reduce targeted local populations.” Stewart also noted that in recent seasons, the number of deer killed by bow and muzzleloader hunters has increased, while shotgun hunters killed fewer deer.
The combined ’06 archery seasons yielded 27,418 deer, an increase of 13 percent from the 24,210 deer harvested by bow in ’05. Hunters using muzzleloader rifles killed more than 30,000 deer last year, about 12,500 more than in ’01.
The firearms season harvest of 80,661 deer was 5 percent less than the 84,664 deer harvested in ’05; however, firearms hunters still took the majority of the total harvest at 64 percent.
“Last season was the second year when bonus antler-less tags could be used in the early archery season, so it was no longer a new rule, and any hunters who were uncertain or unaware of the rule change in ’05 would have become more familiar with it in ’06, further increasing the number of deer harvested in archery season,” Stewart said. “The bonus antler-less tags probably affected the firearms season’s harvest a little, since hunters who had already filled their freezer in archery season didn’t need to go out during the firearms season to harvest a deer. “Muzzle-loaded firearm improvements probably have contributed to the increased deer harvest during muzzleloader season.” Deer harvest research information: www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/hunt/deer/deerinfo.htm
Did you know?
Since 1951, Indiana’s wild deer herd has supplied Hoosier kitchens with more than 138 million pounds of venison. More than 44 percent of the Indiana deer firearms season harvest is during the opening weekend.