February 18, 2010
State of Deer Hunting Examined in Survey
The 2009 gun deer hunting season resulted in one of the lowest harvests in recent history, down nearly 30% from 2008’s deer season. While the hunt was a success in terms of safety and attracting young hunters, with the hunt being the fourth safest in history and nearly 10,000 mentored hunting licenses sold, the lack of success in locating and harvesting deer is troubling.
In an effort to learn more about the thoughts and concerns of deer hunters in our area, I recently conducted a survey on deer hunting issues among deer hunters in the 10th Senate District. The survey, which was made available online at my website www.harsdorfsenate.com , has provided valuable feedback on deer hunting trends and habits, as well as thoughts on addressing the disappointing results of the 2009 season. Over 700 deer hunters took part in the survey.
Responses to the survey showed that in 2009, 39% of deer hunters indicated they hunted on land parcels larger than 200 acres, 27% on property between 81 and 200 acres, and 28% on property between 21-80 acres. Over 80% of hunters were in the woods hunting between 4 to 9 days during hunting season, with 94% hunting 4 or more hours each day. Most hunters (87%) hunted in only one county. Polk County was cited most frequently by hunters, with 23% of respondents indicating they hunted there in 2009.
Hunters were also asked about the number of deer seen and whether they were successful in harvesting a deer. The survey showed that 91% of hunters saw twenty or fewer deer during the season, with 75% seeing ten or less. Nearly 62% of respondents reported not filling their tag in 2009. Despite the disappointing results of the hunting season, 78% of those surveyed indicated they plan on buying a deer license in 2010.
Over 55% of hunters believe that DNR herd management policies are the most significant factor contributing to low harvest numbers. Other significant factors cited by hunters included predators depleting the herd (14%) and weather conditions (11%).
In regards to the DNR, 82% of respondents believe the agency has overestimated the deer herd size and its herd control methods are damaging the herd. 12% of those responding believe the DNR is adequately managing the deer herd.
My deer hunter survey also included an option for respondents to leave additional feedback on their hunting experiences and thoughts on DNR deer management. The more than 400 responses I received will be useful as deer hunting issues come before the State Legislature.
If you did not have the opportunity to take the deer hunter survey, but would like to provide your thoughts, please visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com . Your feedback and input are welcomed.