Hoosier deer hunters in 2012 harvested 136,248 deer. The deer harvest record has been broken in four of the last five seasons, a trend that DNR deer research biologist Chad Stewart doesn’t expect to continue in 2013.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was down a little this year,” Stewart said. “But I don’t expect the harvest numbers to fall off a cliff. There will still be plenty of deer out there.”
The 2013 overall deer hunting season began Sunday with the opening of the urban deer zone season. Archery season starts Oct. 1. Firearms season starts Nov. 16. For more information on seasons and regulations, visit Hunting.IN.gov.
The main reason Stewart thinks a dip in the harvest might happen is because hunters in 2012 harvested a record number of does. As a result, reproduction was likely down this year compared to previous years.
Stewart emphasized that reducing the deer population to a more balanced level has been the DNR’s goal in recent years. Changes to hunting regulations that went into effect in 2012 were geared toward that goal. The changes included extending archery season, allowing crossbows for all archery hunters and creating a “license bundle” that saved hunters money.
“A reduced deer harvest would mean we are making progress,” Stewart said.
The 2013 license bundles give the additional option of harvesting either two antlerless deer and a buck or three antlerless deer.
Last year’s record deer harvest happened even as epizootic hemorrhagic disease was reported in 67 of 92 Indiana counties. The outbreak killed many deer before hunting season began, especially in northern Indiana. This year 15 counties have reported EHD.