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Preliminary Deer Harvest Estimates for the 2000 Early Fall Bow Season and Statewide Opening Day

October 16, 2000

For information contact:
Dan Ferrigno at 609-259-8692

Deer project personnel completed a survey of 83 deer check stations in order to estimate preliminary deer harvest estimates for the 2000 early fall bow season (September 11 - 29, 2000) and statewide opener (September 30, 2000). Bow hunters got off to their best start in history by harvesting an estimated 5,261 deer during the period from September 11 through September 30 (inclusive).

2000 Early Fall Bow Season

Two-thirds of the total or 3,417 deer were taken during the early fall bow season which ran from September 11 - 29, 2000. Sixteen agricultural and suburban zones (zones: 5, 7-14, 33, 36, 41, 42, 49, 50 and 51) were open but only antlerless deer (adult female and young of the year) were fair game. The early, antlerless-only season was authorized to give hunters a chance to satisfy their earn-a-buck requirement prior to the traditional opening day of the fall bow season. An estimated 16,000 bow hunters took advantage of the early season and harvested 3,417 deer. Last year, four suburban zones were open during a similar period and 694 deer were taken. Opening the additional areas resulted in nearly five times as many deer being taken this year.

Statewide Opening Day

The traditional, statewide opening of the fall bow season took place on Saturday, September 30, 2000. It is estimated that statewide, bow hunters harvested some 1,844 white-tailed deer. In comparison, the 1999 statewide opener saw 2,433 deer taken. The traditional opening day harvest this year was better than expected when considering that twelve additional zones had opened three weeks earlier. Furthermore, the quality deer management program and the residual effect of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in southwestern New Jersey are also believed to have contributed to the reduction. QDM in deer management zones 3, 6, 9, 13, 27, 29, 35, 37, 59, 63, 66 and 67 made antlered bucks with less than three points on both antlers ineligible for harvest. This restriction should protect a significant number of 1.5 year old bucks and allow them to reach older age classes and produce larger antlers. Generally, hunting conditions this year were good with clear and cooler than normal weather on most Saturdays during the season.

The fall bow harvest estimates provide strong evidence that bow hunters are making an important contribution to reducing deer populations in agricultural and suburban areas. These early results should be very encouraging to farmers and sportsmen alike. Shifting hunting pressure from anltered bucks to antlerless deer will result in reduced damage to agriculture as well as older and bigger bucks in the future.

The fall bow season not only provides recreation to approximately 50,000 bow hunters but also contributes to deer population management because it allows for the taking of antlerless deer. By harvesting a sufficient number of antlerless deer in each zone, populations are maintained in a healthy condition and at levels that minimize conflicts between deer and people. This is particularly important in areas with a high incidence of agricultural damage and deer-vehicle collisions. This year's population management objective is to decrease the deer herd on 74 percent of the deer range, stabilize the herd on 22 percent of the range, and increase it on 4 percent of the range. Deer herds will be allowed to increase only in zone 24, which contains mostly public land and has limited agriculture and minimal potential for deer-human conflicts.

The 2000 preliminary bow harvest estimate is consistent with the 1999 deer harvest data that show deer harvests and hunting opportunities have increased as a result of the Fish and Game Council's authorization to reduce deer populations on three-quarters of the deer range. However, continued progress toward controlling deer herds will rely on hunters getting access to all lands where deer can be effectively hunted.

Deer harvest est. by year