05/22/09 — Deer kill numbers increasing

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Deer kill numbers increasing

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 22, 2009 1:46 PM

When sportsmen around the Tar Heel state began anticipating the 2008-09 white tail deer season, all of the environmental and biological signs pointed to a banner year in the making.

It turned out to be a spectacular season, indeed.

North Carolina hunters harvested 176,297 deer, a 2.5-percent increase from the 2007-08 season. The numbers were even more encouraging for hunters in the eastern half of the state.

According to statistics released this week by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the fastest-growing region based on total number of kills was the northern sandhills including Halifax, Bertie and Northampton counties.

District three (which includes Wayne and Johnston counties) had the largest total number of kills with 34,411. That was a 10-percent overall increase from 2007.

Hunters bagged 900 antlered deer, 108 button bucks and 639 does for a total of 1,647 kills in Wayne County. The total number of 1,537 harvests were taken one year ago. Five years ago, just 856 deer were taken in the county.

"It's great to hear that more people are out in the woods hunting," local sportsman Kenny Parchman said during a recent shift at The Hunting Lodge. "Deer hunting in this area is relatively new to most people, so it's also good to see more deer in the field and improved hunting conditions."

One reason for the significant increase in one year is the state's decision to issue bonus doe tags to 20,870 hunters. Does accounted for 44 percent of all deer killed statewide in 2008 compared to only 38 percent the year prior.

"That is the biggest reason for the jump in kills," said Parchman. "With the state issuing bonus tags for doe, hunters were able to kill four doe and then send in for bonus tags and keep hunting."

Even with the spike in the number of total deer taken, most hunters would like to see the number of doe harvested increase beyond the number of bucks.

In a perfect herd-management scenario, two doe need to be killed for each buck. The management practice is meant to ease crop destruction and vehicle accidents involving deer.

"One doe this season will mean 2-3 more deer next season," said Parchman. "If there are too many doe, the bucks aren't forced to move much during mating and they just wait for a doe to come to them.

"People will kill bigger bucks if the doe population is thinned down to a productive amount."

One step toward reaching the desired harvest ratio may be the state's decision to allow Sunday archery hunting. During the 2008-09 season, just 39 deer were killed with a bow in Wayne County, a number that will almost certainly rise with the implementation of Sunday hunts.

"A lot of people are looking forward to that," said Parchman. "(The Hunting Lodge) has been doing a lot of bow-related business, so I think people are excited to get out on Sundays."