Indiana hunters harvested 120,073 deer in the 2014 season, according to data released today by the Department of Natural Resources.
Although it was a decrease from the previous two years, the outcome is by design and reflects DNR efforts to reduce the deer population.
“Several years ago, we modified our management strategy to focus deer herd reduction in a strategically targeted manner to more adequately balance ecological, recreational and economic needs of Indiana citizens,” said Mitch Marcus, chief wildlife biologist for the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. “We are no longer managing for a stable to increasing deer herd, so the declines in harvest are expected.”
The 2014 total was a 4.4 percent drop from 2013 and an 11.9 percent drop from the all-time record harvest of 136,248 deer in 2012.
The 2014 season was composed of three statewide segments – archery (Oct. 1 to Jan. 4, 2015), firearms (Nov. 15-30), and muzzleloader (Dec. 7-21). A late antlerless season was available from Dec. 6 to Jan. 4, 2015 in 63 counties. Additionally, licensed youth age 17 or younger were eligible to participate in a two-day season in late September, and designated urban zones allowed archery or crossbow hunting from Sept. 15 through Jan. 31, 2015.
As is typical, the firearms season was the most productive, accounting for 67,989 deer or 57 percent of the total. The archery season accounted for 34,600 deer (29 percent), followed by muzzleloader (10,825; 9 percent), late antlerless (4,171; 3 percent), and youth (2,488; 2 percent). The archery season total included the urban zone harvest.
Harrison County was the top producer for the second straight season with (3,054). It was the only county to top 3,000.
The top counties in 2014 after Harrison were Washington (2,794), Switzerland (2,721), Franklin (2,620), Noble (2,615), Steuben (2,536), Dearborn (2,534), Parke (2,379), Kosciusko (2,333), and Jefferson (2,258).
Harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 58 counties and 2,000 deer in 16 counties.
Benton had the fewest deer reported with 88, followed by Tipton with 121.
Despite the overall decline, four counties set unofficial records in 2014 – Decatur (832), Fayette (1,052), Floyd (821), and Hancock (339).
Hunters had three options to report their harvest – traditional in-person check stations, online, or by phone. For the first time since the online CheckIN Game program began in 2012, more deer were reported online or by phone (66,309) than at physical check stations (54,034).
Hunters have harvested approximately 3.38 million deer since the modern era of regulated deer hunting seasons began in 1951.