New York State hunters should be in for a good hunting season. With an exceptionally mild winter in 2011-12 and below average winter conditions in most of the state again in 2012-13, deer populations have grown despite generally increasing antlerless harvests the past few years. In fact, deer populations throughout many portions of the state are currently in need of substantial reduction.
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Last year 9,300 mule deer and Coues deer were harvested in New Mexico, making it a decent hunting season. Drought continues to stress deer herds and hamper any attempts to increase both deer populations.
"Recruitment has been low the past three years in the southern part of the state, so hunting should reflect a decrease in the number of bucks," said Kevin Rodden, southwest region habitat biologist for the N. M. Department of Game and Fish. "Harvest success rates have declined slightly across the state, but drastically in the South. The Department has responded by reducing license numbers in the southern part of the state."
In 2012, N. J. hunters bagged 49,942 deer, including the new no. 8 typical archery whitetail buck (158 inches). The complete list of trophy deer harvested in 2013 won't be finalized until early 2014. The overall harvest was about the same as it was in 2011 (50,100).
The Garden State continues to have about 107,000 deer, with the highest densities in suburban areas (100-plus deer per square mile). Some areas have even more whitetails, like the Schiff Nature Preserve, which has about 200 deer per square mile.
With an estimated herd of 85,000 deer and relatively mild winters in recent years, hunters can expect great deer hunting this fall.
"The 2013 deer season should be the best we've seen since 2007, when 13,339 deer were taken by hunters," said Dan Bergeron, deer project leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "The 2012-13 winter was mild, with the winter severity index, which measures the effects of winter on deer survival, tied the second lowest statewide average value since we began monitoring the deer herd in 1964."
The drought has been so severe for so long in Nevada that the Bureau of Land Management recently rounded up and relocated about 200 wild horses within the Fish Lake Valley and Gold Mountain Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Like wild mustangs, dry weather conditions and urbanization have stressed the state's population of 110,000 mule deer for years. But muleys have been holding their own in many areas of the state. The state Department of Wildlife actually added a late archery hunt for Unit 203 this fall. About 40 percent of all mule deer hunters (resident and non-resident) were successful last year, making the Silver State a good hunting destination this fall.
Like many other states, last year's epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) outbreak killed thousands of whitetails in Nebraska, prompting wildlife officials to reduce the number of hunting permits available in 2013.
"The EHD outbreak likely killed 30 percent of our whitetails, so herd growth is our objective in most units," said Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Big Game Program Manager Kit Hams. "About 70 percent of all bonus antlerless tags have been eliminated, so we expect lower hunting success as populations begin to rebuild."
In 2012, Montana deer hunters bagged 88,000 animals, a good harvest given the epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) outbreak that wiped out thousands of whitetails. The Milk River from Malta to Nashua and in the Missouri River bottomlands below Fort Peck Dam were hit particularly hard by EHD outbreak, resulting in hunters seeing noticeably fewer deer than they did in 2011.
Mule deer numbers are also down, continuing a 10-year trend in Big Sky Country. Hard winters, drought, fire, and urbanization have been negatively affecting the population for years.
Many don’t know that Maryland actually has both whitetails and Sitka deer. Archery season opened for both species on Sept. 6, with hunters in Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties allowed to harvest two Sitka deer (one antlered).
The deer hunting outlook in 2013 is about the same as last year. Each year rifle hunters take about 50,000 whitetails, many in the 140-to-160-inch range. Sitka deer hunters also experience good success.
The 2012 deer harvest of 309,929 was a 7 percent increase from 2011, making it the third largest on record and the highest total harvest since 2006. Although statewide harvest totals were up, harvest greatly varied among regions. Harvest increased substantially in southern Missouri, but decreased in northern Missouri.
Like the rest of the Midwest, Missouri whitetails were hammered by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in 2012. Hunters will experience the disease’s lingering effects this fall.
“The hemorrhagic disease outbreak of 2012 will have localized impacts on the deer population,” explained Jason Sumners, deer biologist with the Mo. Department of Conservation. “The specific locations of those most severely impacted will begin to reveal themselves over the next year or two.”
If you’re looking for a hidden deer hunting hotspot that offers good odds of bagging a trophy whitetail, then you might want to give the state of Mississippi a try.
Yes, I said Mississippi.
With about 1.8 million deer, ample forage and good cover, the Magnolia State is growing some sweet bucks.
“Last year we had five confirmed Boone and Crockett [B&C] bucks taken, and there are four more potential B&C deer to be scored,” said Lann Wilf, deer program biologist for the Miss. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
That may not sound like a lot, but that’s more trophies than hunters bagged in Alabama, the Dakotas, and Wyoming combined.