What States Let Small Bucks Walk?

Ralph T. from Massachusetts writes to ask about the yearling buck harvest. “More and more states are doing some quality deer management by increasing doe harvests and protecting yearling bucks. Are there any states up my way that are not harvesting many yearling bucks as a percentage of the total buck harvest?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

Yes, Ralph, there are such states. The 2010 Quality Deer Management Association Deer Report shows that Vermont is the top state in the Northeast relative to protecting yearling bucks. In Vermont they only harvest 15 percent yearling bucks. Virginia and Maine were second with 37 percent, and your state of Massachusetts shoots 40 percent yearling bucks. In the Midwest, Kansas is first with only 17 percent of their buck harvest being yearlings, while in the Southeast, Arkansas only shoots 13 percent and Mississippi 17 percent.

Some states don’t collect such data, and more states are moving to a call-in or mail-in check-in system, where either the hunters estimate the age of the bucks harvested, or no record of age is provided. Thus, this data will become harder and harder to obtain. In that case, state deer biologists will just provide their estimate of the yearling buck harvest based on personal experience.

The reason more and more states aren’t keeping data is cost. However, as more states move to quality deer management, hunt clubs and lease hunters, and others, will be pulling deer jaws and aging bucks so that they can better manage their own hunt properties. That is one of the benefits of quality deer management.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for over 31 years.


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