The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for deer, turkey and bear harvests for the 2011-2012 fall and winter hunting seasons.
The Department says the white-tailed deer harvest was slightly up from last year, while the turkey harvest increased significantly.
However, the bear harvest was down from last year.
State officials say spotty mast crops across the state along with management actions both factored into populations and harvest trends.
Here is the news release from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:
Bear, Deer, Turkey Harvest Data Announced
Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for deer, turkey, and bear harvests for the 2011-2012 fall/winter hunting seasons. The white-tailed deer harvest was slightly up from last year while the turkey harvest increased significantly. The bear harvest was down from the previous year. Poor and spotty mast crops across the state this past fall coupled with management actions to meet population objectives all factored into fluctuations in populations and harvest trends. The harvest figures continue to indicate that good hunting is available across the Commonwealth for these popular game species. Data presented in these summaries are preliminary.
During the past deer season 231,454 deer were reported killed by hunters in Virginia. This total included 98,770 antlered bucks, 20,738 button bucks, and 111,830 does (48.3%). The fall 2011 deer kill total was higher (up 4%) than the 222,074 deer reported killed last year. It is in line with the last 10 year average of 230,850.
Deer kill levels were down slightly in Tidewater (down 2%) but were up in all other regions including the Southern Piedmont (up 6%), Northern Piedmont (up 5%), Southern Mountains (up 13%) and Northern Mountains (up 3%).
Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 17,110 deer. The bow kill comprised 7% of the total deer kill. Crossbows resulted in a deer kill of 10,877 deer or 5% of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 55,306 deer or 24% of the total deer kill. Over 166,000 deer (72%) were checked using the Department’s telephone and Internet checking systems.
The Department’s deer management efforts over the past five years to increase the female deer kill over much of the state, especially on private lands, has been very successful. Female deer kill numbers have been at record levels for the past five consecutive deer seasons. These high and sustained female deer kill levels were intended to eventually lead to a decrease in the statewide deer herd and a decline in total deer kill numbers.
It should be noted however, that the Department is currently actively managing to increase deer populations in the Cumberland Plateau counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise, in the Alleghany Highland counties of Alleghany, Bath, and Highland and on National Forest lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
During the 2011-2012 bear hunting seasons 1,997 bears were harvested during the archery, muzzleloader, and firearms seasons. The 2011 harvest resulted in an approximate 10% decrease over last year’s reported kill of 2,221 bears. In 2011, bears were harvested in 73 counties including the first legal bear harvest in Henrico County in numerous decades. Female bears represented 42% of the 2011 harvest, which was greater than the 2010 harvest (39%) but equal to the 2009 harvest (42%).
Archery hunters accounted for 693 bears during 2011, 35% of the total harvest. This was the third year of the 6-week statewide season for bowhunters, and although the archery kill was higher than 2009 numbers (409 bears) it was less than 2009 (1,017 bears). As expected with the poor mast crop, archery success increased this year over 2010 and was comparable to the archery harvest reported in years with limited or spotty fall mast. Archery success typically increases during poor mast years and decreases when acorns are abundant. The top three archery counties were Rockingham (52), Page (50), and Warren (31). Crossbow hunters accounted for 42% of the total archery kill. The harvest from the archery season was 42% female compared to 40% females in 2010 and 44% in 2009.