I’m continually amazed at the “glass half full” mentality of some deer hunters. Amongst the comments to my Whitetail Wisdom blog post from last week was this gem from a fellow Wisconsin hunter. The guy was apparently upset that I dared question the appointment of a Texas private-land deer biologist as Wisconsin’s deer czar.
“Our deer hunting has SUCKED over the past decade and is getting worse,” the hunter wrote, among other things.
Wow. Sucked. Really?
Let’s find that definition, shall we?
No room for misinterpretation there. With that in mind, let’s recap that “sucky” decade of Wisconsin deer hunting:
Year: Deer Harvest:
First, let’s be clear: No deer season can be deemed a success merely on a number. No matter how many deer are shot, the overall experience of the hunt figures into the “satisfaction quotient.” However, most hunters, I think, agree that dead deer on the ground means someone’s at least seeing deer, and seeing deer equates to a large portion of the feeling of success.
Sorry for the digression. Now, moving on. A few notes: 2001 was the year Wisconsin found CWD in its deer herd and, hence, had a drastic reduction in hunter participation, especially in the North Woods. Hunter numbers came back strong by 2004.
The first figure on the above list (2000) indicates the all-time record white-tailed deer harvest in the history of modern deer management. If you are like me and need further perspective, there have been well over 2,000 reported hunting seasons in North America during the modern era (42 states times more than 50 years of hunting seasons). For even more perspective, seven out of Wisconsin’s last 10 hunting seasons (the ones marked with an *) should rank in the Top 50 deer hunting seasons of all time in North America. They don’t because deer biologists in the state of Texas conveniently rewrote the history of their harvests three years ago.
Yes, Texas recalculated how they count deer in 2009. Why? Maybe they didn’t like being left out of the Top 10 list over the past 15-plus years. In any event, in 2009 Texas recalculated its deer kill for the previous eight seasons, using a new formula against previous survey data. This “corrected factor” increased the reported harvest by more than 100,000 deer per year. That’s no typo.
More perspective, in 2000, Texas had reported a deer harvest of about 450,000 deer. Eight years later, they said, “Oops, our bad, we actually killed 561,534 deer, according to the new formula we are using.”
By rewriting their history, Texas now boasts that it holds eight spots in the Top 10 list, and claims an average annual harvest of 576,209 deer. This figure, again, is derived from a mathematical model (guess). With these numbers now in place, the All-Time Single Season Whitetail Harvest List looks like this:
1. Texas. 2008. 619,650
2. Wisconsin. 2000. 618,274
3. Texas. 2006. 604,800
4. Texas. 2005. 584,385
5. Texas. 2002. 575,317
6. Texas. 2003. 570,706
7. Texas. 2004. 566,482
8. Texas. 2000. 561,534
9. Texas. 2009. 559,357
10. Michigan. 1999. 544,895
Wisconsin, on the other hand, has placed a hunter’s hand (and tag … and metal check-in station tag) on each and every deer listed in its annual harvests.
Who’s math would you trust?
The ridiculous re-calculation of harvest figures should offend deer hunters elsewhere, too; namely, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Had Texas not boosted its annual totals by six figures, those states would have had Top 10 bragging rights as well. Michigan wouldn’t be far behind, either.
Alabama deer hunters killed 535,092 deer in 2003; Pennsylvania hunters harvested 517,529 deer in 2002; and Georgia peaked with 484,000 deer in 2004. The new math drops these states’ high marks to 12th, 14th and 27th on the all-time list. In fact, Alabama had two other seasons (2002 and 2004) in which they harvested more than a half-million whitetails.
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Related posts on this topic:
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THE WEEK IN REVIEW:
Thanks to Deer & Deer Hunting forum user MoDeer for this cool photo and post. He writes:
“After shooting a 137-inch 9-pointer last bow season, I decided to boil the head and the send it to a local artist for a paint job . He has done a few of these for us and still has my youngest daughters (her first buck ) that we should get back in a couple of weeks . So far they have all turned out awesome , I’ll post some pics of Raven’s when we get it back . ”
MoDeer also shared the website for the place where he send his heads.
Want to create your own memory? Check out these neat deer skull and antler mounting options.
Don’t forget to join the us each Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. Central as we get pumped for the upcoming deer seasons! The first two episodes of DTN have been widely viewed, and we thank you for spending your lunch hour with us!
Last week we gave away some awesome prizes, including a new Spider Belt from Whitewater, KillZone broadheads from New Archery Products, and a new quiver from Bohning archery. More great stuff is being given away tomorrow. All you need to do to enter the giveaway is watch the show and submit a question!