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 bit.ly/3l2jX9t

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