Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors
Jan. 20, 2016
United States’ whitetail deer hunters are taking more mature bucks than 1-1/2-year-old or “yearling” bucks for the first time in modern history, according to data compiled by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) for its 2016 Whitetail Report. This week you’ll also read about National Bird-Feeding Month, and more.
Whitetail Hunters Aim For Age
In its 2016 Whitetail Report released to the public last week, the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) notes than during the 2014-15 hunting season, the most recent season with complete deer harvest data available from every whitetail state, the percentage of yearling bucks in the national buck harvest dropped to a new record low of 33 percent, falling below the harvest rate for 3-1/2-year-old and older bucks – 34 percent – for the first time since whitetail populations were restored in the mid-1900s.
“Since QDMA was founded in 1988, we’ve watched the harvest pressure on yearling bucks decline steadily from the extremes seen after restoration, and this resulted in climbing rates of mature-buck harvest as more older bucks became available,” said Kip Adams, QDMA’s director of education & outreach, who compiles the annual Whitetail Report. “However, the 2014-15 season will be remembered as the first where the two trends intersected and hunters took more mature bucks than yearlings.”
Of the 26 whitetail states that collect age data on older bucks, the top state in harvest of mature bucks for the 2014-15 season was Mississippi, where 74 percent of bucks killed were 3-1/2 years old or older. Rounding out the Top-5 were Arkansas and Louisiana at 67 percent, Texas at 62 percent, and Oklahoma at 60 percent. Not surprisingly, these same states achieved some of the lowest rates of yearling-buck harvest in the nation. In fact, for the third year in a row, Arkansas claimed the lowest rate at only 8 percent.
“The ongoing decline in harvest pressure on yearling bucks means that more and more hunters are enjoying an opportunity to see and kill mature bucks,” said Adams. “They’re also enjoying other benefits of hunting deer populations with healthy numbers of older bucks, like intensified rut activity, more rubs and scrapes, and better success with rattling and grunt calls. This is good for hunter retention and participation, which is good for ensuring the future of deer hunting.”
Poll: Most Voters Oppose Executive Action on Gun Control
According to a new Rasmussen poll released last week, fewer than one-quarter of Americans who vote believe President Barack Obama’s recent executive action intended to further federal oversight of gun sales will reduce mass shootings in the country.
Only 21 percent of those taking part in the Rasmussen telephone survey support the president’s action, while 59 percent disagree and say the additional oversight will not reduce the number of mass shootings. Twenty percent of those polled said they were not sure.
Further, 58 percent of “Likely U.S. Voters” said the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on when it comes to gun control. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 34 percent believe Obama should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed.
Celebrate National Bird-Feeding Month in February
If you feed birds in your backyard, especially during cold winter months, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans regularly feed wild birds, long recognized as one of the most popular outdoor activities for adults and children.
Did you know that February is National Bird-Feeding Month?
In 1994, Illinois Congressman John Porter introduced a resolution into the Congressional Record which began: “Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize February, one of the most challenging months in the United States for wild birds, as National Bird-Feeding Month. During this month, individuals are encouraged to provide food, water and shelter to help wild birds survive. This assistance benefits the environment by supplementing wild birds’ natural diet seeds and insects.”
Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start and need not overtax the family budget. It can be as simple as mounting a single feeder outside a window and filling it with birdseed mix. For many people, the hobby progresses from there. They discover the relationship between the type and location of feeders, and the seeds offered in them, and the number and varieties of birds attracted.
National Bird-Feeding Month is promoted annually by the National Bird-Feeding Society (NBFS) with support by the Wild Bird Centers of America. Find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/birdfeedingsociety.
W.V. Hunters Post Record Black Bear Harvest
West Virginia hunters harvested a record 3,195 black bears during the combined 2015 archery and firearms seasons, 17 percent more than the previous record set in 2012, when 2,735 bears were taken.
As a result, the black bear harvest of 2015 marks the sixth time in six years that the harvest has topped 2,000, according to Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
“In the “2015 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook” brochure, we predicted an increased archery harvest and a decreased December firearms harvest compared to the levels in 2014,” Carpenter said. “Our prediction held true; however, the archery harvest increased a whopping 92 percent, a record, and the December harvest only decreased by 18 percent.”
Hunters killed 1,140 bears during the 2015 archery season, including 710 with vertical bows and 430 with crossbows. The top five counties were Nicholas (90), Fayette (86), Wyoming (78), Randolph (74), and Webster (65).
Firearms hunters harvested 2,055 bears during 2015. Hunters took 694 bears in September and October, 490 during the concurrent buck-gun bear season, and 871 during the traditional December season. The top five counties were Randolph (193), Nicholas (176), Pocahontas (171), Greenbrier (168), and Pendleton (160).
Quote of The Week
“In a sense, every sportsman has pioneer blood in him, and the frontiers are always beckoning and calling him on to adventure. Take your pharmacy away, and give me a morning in the mountains.”
– Archibald Rutledge,
An American Hunter, 1937
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.