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Even while America’s whitetail population is at its highest, there are critical issues facing the country’s deer and deer hunters. Disease, winter kill, predation, and poor land management all have the potential to flip your next deer season on its head. But before we can tackle the problems at hand, we need to figure out which issues are most important to us, America’s deer hunters. That’s why we’ve put together our first national deer survey.
But this form isn’t just a way to gauge deer hunter opinion. Our Editor Andrew McKean will take the results to the Quality Deer Management Associations first-ever Whitetail Summit next month and share the data with the world’s foremost deer experts. Those experts will take the information back to their home states and use it to inform whitetail management decisions. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the survey results and news from the QDMA summit.
Most importantly, take our survey and share it with your buddies. It’s time for the voice of America’s deer hunters to be heard.
Outdoor Life’s National Deer Survey
1. Which answer best describes your deer-license purchasing and hunting pattern?
- I buy a deer license and hunt deer every year.
- I buy a deer license every year but hunt only when I have time.
- I buy a deer license only after I see a deer I want to hunt.
- I buy a deer license and hunt only after someone has invited me to hunt.
2. Which region of the country do you hunt?
- Northeast (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY)
- East (PA, NJ, MD, DE, VA, WV, NC, KY, TN, OH)
- South (FL, GA, SC, AL, MS, LA, AR, TX)
- Midwest (IN, IL, MO, IA, MN, WI, MI, KS, NE, OK)
- West (WA, OR, CA, ID, MT, WY, CO, UT, NV, AZ, NM, ND, SD, HI, AK)
3. Considering all the recreational activities that you participate in, how important is deer hunting to you?
- It’s the most important recreational activity in my life.
- It’s one of the top 5 recreational activities in my life.
- I could take it or leave it.
- It’s fun to hunt with family or friends, but it’s not something I would do by myself.
- It’s not important to me.
4. Which answer best describes you?
- I’m a hunter, and I’ll hunt any species and season that is open.
- I’m a deer hunter. I’ll hunt other species, but I’m passionate about hunting deer.
- I hunt only deer, no other species.
- Not only am I a deer hunter, but I limit myself to a specific hunting implement (compound bow, traditional bow, crossbow, muzzleloader, etc.)
- I wouldn’t define myself as a hunter. I hunt only when friends and family ask me to go.
5. How much money do you estimate you spend per year on deer hunting gear (guns and ammunition, archery equipment, accessories, apparel, hunting trips)?
- Less than $500
- Between $500 and $1,000
- Between $1,000 and $2,000
- Between $2,000 and $5,000
- More than $5,000
6. Which statement best describes the place you typically hunt deer?
- I hunt public land.
- I hunt my own property.
- I lease deer-hunting property near my home.
- I lease deer-hunting property in another state.
- I don’t have a designated place where I hunt. Instead, I hunt deer wherever I can, on both public and private land.
7. What type of hunting implement do you most commonly use to hunt deer?
- Centerfire rifle
- Limited-range firearm (muzzleloader, shotgun)
- Compound bow
- Traditional bow (recurve or long)
- Any implement that is legal
8. How much time do you invest in the management of your whitetail property prior to hunting season?
- I spend several hours every week managing my land
- Most weekends during spring and summer
- The odd weekend, as time allows
- I hunt public land
9. What is the primary reason you hunt whitetails?
- To provide my family with food
- To spend time with family/friends
- To help control the local whitetail population
- For the challenge of taking a mature animal
- To reap the benefits of my management practices
- Because it’s a part of my heritage and family’s tradition
10. Which statement best describes you:
- I’m a meat hunter, and I’m happy tagging any legal deer, regardless of the size of its antlers.
- I’m a trophy hunter. I hold out for a mature buck, even if that means I don’t fill my tag.
- I would rather kill a big buck than a small buck, but I’ll shoot the first legal deer I see.
- Killing a deer is great, but the reason I hunt is to get out in the field with friends and family.
11. What are your thoughts on the internet/telecheck deer check-in systems that are being adopted by most states?
- It’s great and makes life a whole lot easier.
- It’s good because it saves money for the state and time for me.
- It’s inconvenient because there’s no internet service where we hunt.
- It’s terrible because it leads to too many unreported deer.
- It’s not good because in-person check stations provided a better way for biologists to keep abreast of the health of the deer herd.
12. What are your thoughts on harvesting antlerless deer?
- I try to fill every tag I have.
- I won’t ever shoot an antlerless deer.
- I self-regulate my antlerless deer take according to the number of deer I see during the course of the season.
- I’ll fill a tag if I need the meat and it’s getting late in the season.
- When deer are overpopulated, I consider shooting does my obligation as a hunter.
13. Considering your deer-hunting experience over the last five years, do you generally:
- See more deer (does, fawns, and bucks combined) every year than the year before?
- See fewer deer every year than the year before?
- See about the same number of deer every year?
- See an increase in older bucks?
- See a decrease in older bucks?
14. How many deer a day do you need to see to feel like you’ve had a satisfactory hunt?
- One or two
- A dozen
- The number doesn’t matter, but if I don’t see a shootable buck, I’m disappointed.
- The number doesn’t matter, it’s the quality of the day–the weather, my companions, other wildlife sightings–that determine the satisfaction of my hunt.
- At least 25 in rifle or bow range
15. Deer farms, sometimes called captive deer operations or high-fence outfits, are a part of the landscape in many parts of the country. What answer best reflects your opinion about these operations?
- They’re not for me, but they are a legitimate business and if people want to shoot deer behind a high fence, that’s their choice.
- They are reservoirs for disease–including chronic wasting disease–that could spread to our wild deer. They should be banned from every state.
- They are a public-relations problem for hunters because non-hunters think we all shoot captive deer.
- I would consider hunting a high-fence property, as long as the acreage was large enough for the deer to have a good chance of eluding me.
- We should encourage more high-fence operations, and use them to introduce youth to hunting.
16. In general, I feel like my state wildlife agency:
- Does a good job of managing deer in my state
- Does a poor job of managing deer in my state
- Has no idea about deer trends in my area
- Adequately manages deer in my area, given the time and budget constraints on the government
17. To me, deer are:
- A public resource owned by all the people
- A resource that should be managed by the owner of the land where they live
- An overpopulated nuisance species
- Private property
- Under age 20
- Over age 60