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Hunters in Indiana took 123,000 wild white-tailed deer during the 2004 deer-hunting season — a 15 percent increase over the previous year's deer harvest of 106,986 deer.

The 2004 antlered buck harvest increased 10.6 percent to 54,768 deer. The antler-less deer harvest of 68,290 deer was almost 19 percent more than in 2003.

"Indiana's state-wide deer herd size has been slowly growing since 1998," said Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Jim Mitchell.

Mitchell says Indiana's wild deer resource annually contributes more than $168 million to the state's economy. "But this contribution, mostly from hunting activity and wildlife viewing, has to be weighed against crop damage and deer/vehicle crashes."

Indiana's total deer harvest has increased every season since 2000. About two million deer have been legally harvested during the past 53 Indiana deer-hunting seasons.

The number of deer harvested in individual counties ranged from 65 to 3,353 deer. For the first time in eight years, the harvest exceeded 3,000 deer in a county; both Steuben and Switzerland counties yielded more than 3,000 deer.

The five counties with the highest total deer harvest were:

Switzerland - 3,353, Steuben - 3,083, Franklin - 2,997, Parke – 2,942, Dearborn - 2,798

The five counties with the lowest deer harvest were:

Tipton - 65, Benton – 147, Marion – 251, Hancock – 262, Clinton - 311

Last season's harvest put about 6 million pounds of venison on Indiana's kitchen tables. Hoosier deer hunters donated 17,000 pounds of venison to food pantries in 2004 through the Sportsmen Against Hunger program.

A complete report on the 2004 deer season is available at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/hunt/deer/deersum04.htm

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