TN Deer Harvest Lowest in Ten Years

rsimms

rsimms

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BlackBelt

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My bet is it has a lot more to do with the 2-buck limit than anyone will admit.
But thats just a guess on my part, and I may be off base on that.
I know that the limit kept me from hunting as much in TN more this year than any other year.
 
RUGER

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It's because I didn't hunt. :D
 
rem270

rem270

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2 buck limit is turning everyone into trophy hunters.
 
Remington742

Remington742

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The 2 buck limit and the button buck rule.
 
ZachMarkus

ZachMarkus

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I hunted more this year and saw just as many deer if not more than I have in a long time.

I just didn’t shoot any, I killed 2 bucks and 2 does. I made over 40 sits and saw deer just about every time.


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poorhunter

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I’m curious about the doe harvest in Unit L. Has the 3a day caught up with us? Are there more people self regulating their does so they don’t decimate the herd on their farms? I’ve said it before, I’m concerned with the free for all on does in unit L. TWRA wants a smaller herd, but personally I want more deer :tu:
 
ZachMarkus

ZachMarkus

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poorhunter":2bm4nes3 said:
I’m curious about the doe harvest in Unit L. Has the 3a day caught up with us? Are there more people self regulating their does so they don’t decimate the herd on their farms? I’ve said it before, I’m concerned with the free for all on does in unit L. TWRA wants a smaller herd, but personally I want more deer :tu:

Yeah I don’t shoot many does at all for that reason, we seem to have a good population but I know there are people that hunt close by that kill enough does for everyone else. Personally I think they should do something different besides 3 does a day in unit L


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RUGER

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Far from scientific but through my daily travels I see far less deer than I used to, I know that for a fact.

Whether the 3 per day has lowered the deer population numbers enough to see a change or whether the hunting pressure put on does have made them go nocturnal, I dunno.

In my area I think the biggest reason for the decline is loss of habitat.
The last 5 years or so farmers around here have gone on an all out assault on fence rows and small (less than 5 acre) wood spots.
I used to call these "scuds" of woods.
It would surprise alot of people how many deer these scuds and fencerows will hold.
Many of them are gone.

Prime example is a little scud that was by my house. MAYBE 3 acres in size but it was the perfect "holding" or bedding area between two large field that are connected by only this scud of woods. Deer would come from one direction with multiple tree lines then go through or down the edge of the woods then move across the open area of the next field.
They took down this scud of woods and instead of seeing 5 to 20 deer a day cross now I see the same family unit of 4 deer a total of 3 times this past year.
 
Hardwoodmaterials

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I saw 4 deer all season and all of them was during M/l and the first few days of rifle season. I am not kidding! Between the 3 does a day and the huge amount of East Tn hunters that flood the Unit L WMA's and public hunting areas shooting every deer they see over the years it has knocked a huge dent in the number of deer. You can only have a crowd of hunters on a piece of land every year taking even a couple does each before the deer are thinned out! I wished they would stop the 3 does a day garbage or at least stop the doe slaughter on WMA's and public hunting areas.
 
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Matador

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Thats about what I figured they would say and I don't disagree with that. I just think (as mentioned) that the button buck rule factors in greatly, but that is an unpopular subject to bring up for them.
 
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TheLBLman

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Just want to preface this by saying I believe we are very fortunate in having Mark Gudlin as our Chief of Wildlife at TWRA.
He has earned it with his decades of dedication and professionalism, starting at the bottom, working his way to the top.
The perfect guy for this role.

rsimms":29n506m2 said:
TWRA's Chief of Wildlife explains why Tennessee's deer harvest dropped significantly this season.

Gudlin blames the decline on two major factors.

"We had an unusually warm weather during muzzleloader season," said Gudlin.
"The harvest in that season alone was down 23 percent.
We also had a huge EHD outbreak in the eastern half of the state."

As for the reduced harvest during muzzleloader season, Gudlin said extreme warm weather has a tendency to keep hunters out of the woods because it's uncomfortable and more difficult to properly care for harvested deer.

"People just won't go when it's warm," he said. "People may choose to go fishing instead."

I totally agree with Mark.
The 3rd major factor was just less deer hunting (on average) per hunter for the season.
This has been a ongoing trend, but accelerated a bit in 2018 in part due to those first two factors.
It's all interrelated.

Did you personally hunt as many days in 2018 as you averaged over the past few years?
Just saying, most did not.
The reasons are many.


As to the 2-buck limit, don't see that as much a factor in the total deer harvest, although it is a factor in the total buck harvest. It is virtually a non-factor regarding how much or how little hunters were afield in 2018. It "should" have slightly decreased the buck harvest, while slightly increasing the doe harvest. However, the 2017 change in the antlerless/antlered definition "should" have decreased the doe harvest as well as the button buck and yearling buck harvest.

Unfortunately for data accuracy, antler definition changes, the recent fast embracing of smart phones for telecheck, and no longer having to field tag a deer before moving, appear to have contributed to more deer not being checked in at all (particularly the younger deer of both sexes). I do believe the data in it's saying the harvest is less than the prior year, but do not believe it's actually as much less as it appears. Ongoing annual trend data should remain reasonably reliable (without any more changes made to the system or definitions), just maybe not as accurate as in times past.

Too much changed in too short a time horizon, imo, has made it "too easy" NOT to check in a deer,
even though the primary reason may be a hunter making an honest mistake (which became more likely under the 2017 antler definition changes).

But IMO, we need an improved method of field checking deer,
such as tags that must be attached before the deer is moved from the property killed.
In the meantime, the system isn't broken and is actually "easier" for hunters to check in their deer.
It's just easier "not" to as well, particularly regarding the growing number who process their own venison.
 
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GRIT

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I don't think we will ever hit those numbers again.
Unit L was fun when it first opened but after a while shooting doe,s got old at least to me it has and most of the hunters i know stopped shooting them too.Then add the 2 buck limit to that .
 
T

TheLBLman

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Matador":1ymade05 said:
I just think (as mentioned) that the button buck rule factors in greatly, but that is an unpopular subject to bring up for them.
I don't think anyone at TWRA will disagree with you that the antlerless/antlered definition change is a factor in reducing the deer harvest.

But in terms of factors, it takes a back seat to simply less deer hunting,
due in part to a warm muzzleloader season, due in part to EHD in East TN.

Keep this in the context that both now and going back years, not just recently,
our average TN deer hunter has been killing less than one deer annually.
Just saying, for the average deer hunter,
this change in antler definition typically isn't having a huge impact on whether he shoots that first deer he sees, or not.
Other factors are larger ones,
and they include an "aging" group of deer hunters simply not desiring to drag out as many deer annually as when we were a "younger" group (on average).
 
GOODWIN

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Hardwoodmaterials":1bh1qfb7 said:
I saw 4 deer all season and all of them was during M/l and the first few days of rifle season. I am not kidding! Between the 3 does a day and the huge amount of East Tn hunters that flood the Unit L WMA's and public hunting areas shooting every deer they see over the years it has knocked a huge dent in the number of deer. You can only have a crowd of hunters on a piece of land every year taking even a couple does each before the deer are thinned out! I wished they would stop the 3 does a day garbage or at least stop the doe slaughter on WMA's and public hunting areas.

Exactly! The numbers are down big time in certain areas. Stop this free for all doe massacre on public lands. This is especially true on over pressured small parcels of tva land. Some areas maybe able to sustain it in unit L but other areas cannot.

Submit your comments/concerns to [email protected]. Put hunting season comments in subject line.
 
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GRIT

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GOODWIN":3ecj9gup said:
Hardwoodmaterials":3ecj9gup said:
I saw 4 deer all season and all of them was during M/l and the first few days of rifle season. I am not kidding! Between the 3 does a day and the huge amount of East Tn hunters that flood the Unit L WMA's and public hunting areas shooting every deer they see over the years it has knocked a huge dent in the number of deer. You can only have a crowd of hunters on a piece of land every year taking even a couple does each before the deer are thinned out! I wished they would stop the 3 does a day garbage or at least stop the doe slaughter on WMA's and public hunting areas.

Exactly! The numbers are down big time in certain areas. Stop this free for all doe massacre on public lands. This is especially true on over pressured small parcels of tva land. Some areas maybe able to sustain it in unit L but other areas cannot.

Submit your comments/concerns to [email protected]. Put hunting season comments in subject line.

When we can only kill one buck and 2 or 3 doe,s a year and they take a lot of hunting days from us the ones that say there is just as many deer now as there was 10 or so years ago might wake up.
 
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mike243

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I get ticked off every time I see some body post about all the east Tn hunters killing all the deer in middle and w Tn,I have been a number of times over the years and have taken 3-4 deer in a 20+ year span,I see a lot of posts where folks that live in the area shoot multiple deer every time out :? twra can run a ck and I wish they would to see which hunters are targeting which WMA'S and county's,how far are the hunters homes from the kill,any of them smart enuf to already have done that? ,also just because you live in a area don't mean your the only people allowed on it cause the rest of us pay our fair share IMO
 
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fishboy1

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Warren Co
I think an un-measurable factor that is very important is hunter participation and WHY hunters are staying home.

The hard part is putting a % number on each reason.
1. MZ weather
2. Cost of license
3. Other opportunities (golf, fishing, football etc)
4. 2 buck limit is not seen as a "good deal" by average hunters
5. Button buck rule
6. Trophy hunting is driving up lease prices.
7. Increased pressure on WMA's make them less attractive to hunt.
8. EHD in East TN.

If you consider what is new, then the 2 buck rule and the button buck rule MIGHT be having a negative effect on hunter participation. Anytime you make something more expensive, or difficult it becomes less popular. I am far less worried about the harvest numbers than I am the hunter participation numbers. Yes, I personally benefit if less people hunt the WMA's I hunt....BUT we all get screwed if the hunting population declines to the point of loosing political influence.

Perhaps next year the weather will be nice and hunter participation will go up. BUT with recruitment of new hunters remaining lower than the number of hunters leaving the sport, TWRA should expect and plan for perpetual budgeting crisis.
 

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