Archived Outdoors

Deer harvest remains high as pandemic recedes

Deer harvest in North Carolina remains robust, with numbers from the 2021-22 hunting season remaining nearly level with those recorded with the pandemic’s arrival in 2020. 

In the 2020-21 season, the 169,973 deer harvested represented a 9.1% increase compared to the three-year average at the time, and a 23.7% increase in the western zone. In 2021-22, hunters reported harvesting 168,427 deer — a 6.3% overall increase on the three-year average and a 9% increase in the western zone. During the 2019-2020 season, which occurred prior to the pandemic’s arrival in the United States, 161,940 deer were harvested. 

The southeastern zone saw the largest jump on its three-year average, with a 12% increase, while the central zone had a 7.4% increase, the northeastern zone 3.4% and the northwestern zone 0.8%. 

“It was unclear whether the 2020 increase in hunting participation and harvest was temporary, but the 2021 deer harvest shows a maintained deer harvest indicative of a strong deer population and hunting tradition,” said Moriah Boggess, deer biologist for the Wildlife Commission. “This is encouraging from a deer herd and hunter retention standpoint.”

Of the deer harvested, 53% were antlered bucks, 4.4% were button bucks and 42.6% were does. Most deer were harvested with a gun (76.4 %), followed by blackpowder (9.7%), bow (7.8%) and crossbow (6.1%). 

For more information, including annual deer harvest summaries, visit

Leave a comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.