The 2012 deer harvest was down 8 percent from 2011, with kill levels down over most of the state. Hunters harvested 215,241 deer last year, including 96,853 antlered bucks, 18,314 button bucks and over 100,000 does.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) made a return to the Old Dominion in 2012, with one new CWD-positive deer found in western Frederick County. But with only five deer testing positive for the disease since 2009, there’s little concern that the disease is taking hold.
Last year was also a quiet year for hemorrhagic disease (HD) in several traditional areas (e.g., Southside counties and the central Piedmont), but a bad year around Caroline and King George counties. Fall 2012 marked only the second time the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) received calls about deer dead from HD West of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The VDGIF anticipates harvest numbers this fall will be similar to last year, but with fewer deer harvested in the Tidewater and Mountain regions.
Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Highland and Rockbridge counties were added to the antler point regulation (APR) currently in place in Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. A hunter’s second buck must have at least four points on one side.
There is also a new September antlerless-only firearm deer season in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. Firearms either-sex deer hunting days have been reduced in many counties; the number of antlerless deer required for Earn-A-Buck (EAB) was increased in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties; and Franklin, Fauquier, Patrick and Shenandoah counties were removed from EAB. For more information, consult the Deer Hunting Regulations page of the 2013 Hunting Digest.
The VDGIF continues to struggle to manage deer on public lands located in the mountains.
“Since the mid-1990s, there has been about a 60 percent decline in the deer kill on public lands west of the Blue Ridge,” said Matt Knox, VDGIF deer project coordinator.
This fall, hunters in Russell, Smyth, Tazewell and Wythe counties will only be allowed to shoot bucks during rifle season on public lands.