Saturday, March 9, 2013

Virginia deer kill down a little, but overall the hunting was good

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has compiled preliminary figures for deer, bear, and turkey kills for the 2012-13 fall/winter hunting seasons. The white-tailed deer take was down from last year while the turkey and bear kills increased. This was the highest fall turkey harvest reported over the past five years. A better acorn crop than last year, in the range of average to good, across the state coupled with management actions to meet population objectives all factored into fluctuations in populations and harvest trends. 

Wonder if any Virginians shot a fine buck like this one
White-tailed Deer
During the past deer season 213,597 deer were reported killed by hunters in Virginia. This total included 96,712 antlered bucks, 18,061 button bucks, 98,781 does (46.3%), and 43 "unknown" deer. The fall 2012 deer kill total was down 8% from the 233,104 deer reported killed last year. It is also 9% below the last 10 year average of 232,573.

Total deer kill levels were down from last fall across most of Virginia including Tidewater, the Southern Piedmont, the Northern Piedmont and the Southern Mountains. Deer kill levels were stable in the Northern Mountains. The female deer kill was down 13% from 2011, while the antlered buck kill was only down 2% from 2011. The top 5 counties were Bedford, Loudoun, Southampton, Fauquier and Pittsylvania.

Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 15,791 deer. The bow kill comprised 7% of the total deer kill. Crossbows resulted in a deer kill of 10,596 deer or 5% of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 54,808 deer or 26% of the total deer kill. 

Black Bear
A total of 2,144 bears were shot in Virginia during the 2012 - 2013 bear hunting seasons representing the combined kill from archery, muzzleloader, and firearms hunters. The 2012 harvest resulted in an approximate 7% increase over last year's initial reported kill of 1997 bears. In 2012, bears were harvested in 73 counties/cities. 

Archery hunters accounted for 513 bears during 2012, representing 24% of the total take. The top three archery counties were Augusta (32), Rockingham (30) and Page (24). Crossbow hunters accounted for 44% of the total archery kill in 2012. 

Muzzleloader hunting opportunities were expanded in 2011, and the second year of the statewide 1-week muzzleloader kill accounted for 415 bears (19% of the total). 

Representing 57% of the total kill, the 2012 firearms season yielded 1216 bears, an increase from the 2011 season (1039 bears, 52% of the totsl) and greater than the previous 3-year average percent of the total. The top three general firearms counties were Rockingham (89), Nelson (75) and Craig (63). 

Fall Wild Turkey
During the 2012-13 fall turkey season, 4,432 turkeys were shot. The 2012-13 season  was the highest fall kill reported over the past 5 years and was 28% above last year's reported kill (3,470). The numbers increased 37% in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (1,734 vs 1,267). Counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains increased 21% percent (2,673 vs. 2,203). Botetourt led all counties with a kill of 151 birds. Most of the hunt successes were reported on private lands.

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