In the 10 years between 2003 and 2013, states in the Midwest reported an average 23 percent decline in buck deer harvest. In Iowa, the decline is a staggering 40 percent.
In 2000, the average doe-to-fawn ratio (a ratio of fawns that survive until the beginning of the fall hunting season) was .89, meaning that for every 100 does, 89 fawns survived. In 2014, the ratio was .66. "That means on average it takes three does to recruit two fawns," said Kip Adams of the QDMA.
While 8 percent of turkey hunters belong to a turkey-advocacy organization, and 23 percent of elk hunters belong to an elk-advocacy organization, fewer than 1 percent of deer hunters belong to a deer-advocacy organization despite the fact that there are four times more deer hunters than turkey hunters in America. And despite the fact that whitetail hunting generates half of the $87 billion hunting industry.
Mule deer herds haven't recovered from the last significant decline, in the 1990s, Arizona biologist Jim Heffelfinger told the group. Populations are generally stable, but threats such as drought, habitat loss, invasive species, and human development are squeezing the species.