Harvest Report - 2016 vs. 2017 - Numbers Down

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Anyone have a theory about why total statewide numbers are down? Year to date, year over year, 2016 shows about 139K deer killed compared to this year's 125K. Total statewide WMA harvests are up though. I didn't do a full analysis, but it looks like most counties are slightly down. I hunt in Wilson and Davidson, and this is the case for both.

Possible the 3 deer per day limit is catching up, or can we blame it on the weather again? What do yall think?
 
catman529

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It was at least as hot as last year, if not hotter, for the first half of the season, that's all I can think of for counties that didn't get hit hard by EHD.

I don't think actual population numbers are down anywhere around me.
 
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TheLBLman

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It's a combination of many factors.

These include

1. Progressively less compliance with hunters reporting their kills, i.e. the actual deer kill may not be down as much as it appears.

2. The average hunter is hunting less

3. Average hunter has been becoming more selective on both antlered bucks and antlerless deer

4. Fewer deer in more areas than more deer in some areas

5. Habitat changes (which can be good for the deer, but harder on the deer hunting)

6. Average hunter may be getting less adaptable to deer travel patterns changing with changing food sources and changing habitat.
Saying this much in the context of so many hunters who only hunt from the growing number of enclosed permanent stands, or wearing out the same ladder stands, instead of actually changing where they hunt based on where the deer gravitate. The deer are truly patterning the hunters more than the hunters are patterning the deer.

7. Aging hunter base may be focusing more on the quality of their hunting than the quantity of their kills

However, I suspect the gap will close if the final weekend's seasonal weather forecast holds,
as it's "good" for both traveling hunters and deer hunting. Many years regarding the final weekend, the roads are icy, the weather is brutal (much like this weekend). With better travel/hunting weather the final weekend, many hunters will be afield and in a doe-killing mode.
 
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MickThompson

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I’d say EHD in the eastern half of the state was a big factor too.


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Hunter 257W

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I think the weather did play a role this year. On both the Muzzle Loader and Rifle opening days it was warm and real windy to the point that a lot of hunters didn't go. Those days are when a big % of the deer are killed and a lot of hunters don't go a lot outside those two weekends. Opening day of Rifle in particular was stormy and miserable. I missed both days and I've never done that before.
 
cecil30-30

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MickThompson":3bw0qlwg said:
I’d say EHD in the eastern half of the state was a big factor too.


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Winner winner chicken dinner.

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buckaroo

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I live in the boonies, years past it is nothing to see deer in my driveway, I have maybe seen 2 in 9 months, game cameras don't lie either. I have seen a record number of coyotes tho
 
fairchaser

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As stated, it’s a number of factors. But one factor not mentioned is the new hair liner rule. Many hunters are more reluctant to drop the hammer on a doe, not knowing if its a legal button buck. This is true especially after they have killed their two bucks, as in my case. It’s kept me out of the kill mode. Some that may have killed a hair liner didn’t report it.
 
ImThere

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I really wish I knew how many hunters killed the three does a day that everyone blames for lack of deer sightings and low harvest numbers. I would wager not many hunters killed 3 doe a day.
I would blame depredation permits and EHD
I think people really overlook EHD I would bet no one that hunted Laurel Hill WMA pre 2007 will tell you that deer numbers have made it back to pre 2007 numbers.
You listen to farmers next time your at the local breakfast spot talk about there dissatisfaction in only killing 25-30 deer last night. And you will quickly realize where the numbers are going.


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Winchester

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IMO Very very little has changed from the hunters standpoint in just 12 months. Weather as a whole was terrible and I think the biggest negative factor in Middle and West TN. Weather was just as bad here in East TN, and throw in a really bad outbreak of EHD and its clear to see from the county reports where the majority of the decline in total #'s came from. Look back to 2007 when we had the terrible weather and the EHD and we got same results. Its not some earth shattering movement in the ranks of hunters that has happened overnight, simply trying conditions!!
 
PillsburyDoughboy

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Imma going to say several factors .

Record number of coyotes . EHD in Eastern . The button buck rule perhaps may have a few non reports and a few less pulls on the trigger


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TX300mag

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ImThere":xtzor6mj said:
I really wish I knew how many hunters killed the three does a day that everyone blames for lack of deer sightings and low harvest numbers. I would wager not many hunters killed 3 doe a day.
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I know very few hunters who regularly kill a doe, a handful that will kill one, and almost none that will kill 3 in a season-much less 3 a day like it's insinuated. Hunters just don't regularly kill a lot of does. Consider that despite a drop in the buck limit there are still more bucks being killed than does in many unit L counties. We can stop blaming it on the 3/day limit.
 
cbhunter

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TX300mag":2f89v2vn said:
ImThere":2f89v2vn said:
I really wish I knew how many hunters killed the three does a day that everyone blames for lack of deer sightings and low harvest numbers. I would wager not many hunters killed 3 doe a day.
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I know very few hunters who regularly kill a doe, a handful that will kill one, and almost none that will kill 3 in a season-much less 3 a day like it's insinuated. Hunters just don't regularly kill a lot of does. Consider that despite a drop in the buck limit there are still more bucks being killed than does in many unit L counties. We can stop blaming it on the 3/day limit.

I have never killed 3 does in 1 day. I have never killed 2 does in one day that I recall, once if any. I can count on one hand how many times I have ever killed 3 does in one season. I do believe Carroll County has been in unit L since the beginning. On the other hand, my neighbor has a Pastor from east Tennessee that came down for a few days during muzzy and the first week or so of rifle and I bet he killed 15 deer or more. He says he grinds it all up and feeds his church family on a regular basis. More power to him and I'm happy for them. With that being said, he is the only person I can ever recall meeting that absolutely slaughters them and I know a TON of hunters here in unit L. So I agree with what the guys stated above.
 
PickettSFHunter

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Definitely the EHD effect for my area anyway.


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poorhunter

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ImThere":2ssxkvst said:
I really wish I knew how many hunters killed the three does a day that everyone blames for lack of deer sightings and low harvest numbers. I would wager not many hunters killed 3 doe a day.
I would blame depredation permits and EHD
I think people really overlook EHD I would bet no one that hunted Laurel Hill WMA pre 2007 will tell you that deer numbers have made it back to pre 2007 numbers.
You listen to farmers next time your at the local breakfast spot talk about there dissatisfaction in only killing 25-30 deer last night. And you will quickly realize where the numbers are going.


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It's not the actual number of people that kill three a day that is the problem. It's the mentality that there is a limitless supply of does that the three a day limit fosters. I don't know how many times I've read on this site of someone who lives in East Tennessee say "I'll just go to middle and kill a doe". That plus people have a number of different hunters "come kill a doe, it's three a day ". Friends family kids, it all adds up. The liberal limit says there's actually NO limit and people don't manage their property to sustain good populations.
 
ImThere

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poorhunter":16dr0hzr said:
ImThere":16dr0hzr said:
I really wish I knew how many hunters killed the three does a day that everyone blames for lack of deer sightings and low harvest numbers. I would wager not many hunters killed 3 doe a day.
I would blame depredation permits and EHD
I think people really overlook EHD I would bet no one that hunted Laurel Hill WMA pre 2007 will tell you that deer numbers have made it back to pre 2007 numbers.
You listen to farmers next time your at the local breakfast spot talk about there dissatisfaction in only killing 25-30 deer last night. And you will quickly realize where the numbers are going.


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It's not the actual number of people that kill three a day that is the problem. It's the mentality that there is a limitless supply of does that the three a day limit fosters. I don't know how many times I've read on this site of someone who lives in East Tennessee say "I'll just go to middle and kill a doe". That plus people have a number of different hunters "come kill a doe, it's three a day ". Friends family kids, it all adds up. The liberal limit says there's actually NO limit and people don't manage their property to sustain good populations.
Yeahhhh about that. Umm I ain’t buying what your selling.


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Mike Belt

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I doubt there are many hunters statewide that take 3 does in a day. I have on a few occasions when I deemed a particular day as doe/freezer meat day but only when I've seen what I deem an adequate number of does in the area I'm hunting. The difference I see in taking 3 in a day versus 3 in a season is that if all 3 are taken in the same day and especially if you're not the only one doing it in that particular area, you may be influencing the number of fawns born into that area. Regardless of however you take them out the one factor that you can't deny is that it takes does to make bucks. I believe you can shoot too many.
 
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TheLBLman

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poorhunter":l9rm4son said:
It's not the actual number of people that kill three a day that is the problem. It's the mentality that there is a limitless supply of does that the three a day limit fosters. I don't know how many times I've read on this site of someone who lives in East Tennessee say "I'll just go to middle and kill a doe". That plus people have a number of different hunters "come kill a doe, it's three a day ". Friends family kids, it all adds up. The liberal limit says there's actually NO limit and people don't manage their property to sustain good populations.
For most of Unit L, my views are congruent with Poorhunter's, but not as dire or extreme.

IMO, neither the people nor the limit is much a "problem" at present.
Otherwise, everything Poorhunter states is spot on.

It's the mentality of a limitless supply, which is exactly why TWRA decided to make the Unit L limit 3 a day.
The goal was to reduce the deer density in those counties designated as Unit L.
To a significant degree, it has worked.

But now, should we still have the Unit L doe limit stated as "3 per day"?

Not only has the deer density been reduced in most Unit L counties,
but many bordering Unit A counties have been now designated as Unit L counties,
not so much to decrease their deer density, but more for the cause of simplicity in the regs.
IMO, some of these former Unit A counties are not being served best ongoing with this high a doe limit and the attitudes it fosters.

That said, just as an aside, for similar but opposite "mindset" reasons, the buck limit was reduced from 3 to 2.

A higher doe limit simply means more hunters kill 2 or 3 doe annually instead of 1 or 2;
a lower buck limit simply means more hunters kill 1 or 2 bucks annually instead of 2 or 3.

Although the Unit L doe limit has gone unchanged for years,
many hunters are simply tired of killing, dragging, processing, any more than they can use for food.
More "hunting" can be more fun (and less work) than more "killing".
Thus, the "killing" has become more "selective" for most hunters.

For most, this number of deer to be killed is no more than 3 deer total annually,
and the "management" issue becomes whether that is geared more towards
fewer to be bucks, or fewer to be does (and/or, fewer period, or more period).

Make the doe limit 10 a day, and most hunters will still not kill more than 3 deer a year.
Make the buck limit 10 a day, and most hunters will still not kill more than 3 deer a year,
although the ratio of kills would likely become more bucks and fewer does.
Basically, we're just not going to get the average hunter to kill more than 3 deer a year.

The ongoing deer density (population) is effected most by the doe kills.
Other herd health dynamics may be effected more by the buck kills.
It's all about the balance.

All that said,
the biggest challenge of future deer management may still become
getting hunters to kill enough female deer to keep deer densities in check.
No matter how we do it, it will be a challenge to get the average hunter to kill more than 2 or 3 deer annually,
no matter what the buck or the doe limits become.
 

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