With deer seasons wrapping up around the country, the old complaint mill has started to gin up. We’ve been hearing a whole lot grousing in the past couple of weeks about the length of the deer season. Granted, most of the complaints have come from my home state of New York, but we have received enough from other areas to make us think that there just might be something to it.
Here’s a cross section of comments: “We’ve been chasing deer since October 1 and it’s just too much. No wonder we haven’t seen a buck in 3 weeks.” Another weighed in with: “How do you expect these deer to get any age on them when the gun season runs for a solid month–everybody’s shell shocked, the deer and the landowners.” More than a few are blaming extended seasons with declining deer numbers. “Everybody has a pocket full of tags and 2 months to fill them in. No wonder all the deer are gone”.
The view from 30,000 feet is pretty interesting. And boy is it ever a varied landscape. On the low side we have Illinois and Ohio each with 7-day gun season. They are part of the five Midwest states have gun seasons less than 10 days long. That generally means one weekend and a handful of weekdays. The average length of Midwest gun season for whitetails is 13 days and we all know what comes out of the Midwest.
On the other end of the spectrum, is the Southeast where the average length of the gun season is 68 days–Georgia and Alabama hunters enjoy more than 100 days to hunt deer. Now that’s a heck of a season. Seems as if long seasons were a problem they would have shortened them by now?
It’s tempting to look at Midwest deer hunting and conclude that short seasons mean big bucks. If it were only that simple?
So what’s the answer? Kip Adams, a QDMA spokesperson, believes there may be no right answer. He has spoken with deer and deer hunters in over 20 states and is quick to point out that deer seasons are not as simple as the number of days they run. As far as keeping populations in check, some states get the job done in 2 weeks while others need 2 months. Hunter density and hunter enthusiasm has a lot to do with it. As far as big bucks go, well, it’s pretty hard to beat the Midwest but there is more to growing big bucks than a short deer season.
So let’s see what our fellow Outdoor Life deer watchers think about season lengths. Are you happy with the length of your state’s deer season and why or why not? And while you are thinking about it, how would you change it?