NDA Deer Report Finds 88% of US Whitetail Harvest Occurs on Private Land

An average of 88% of state whitetail deer harvests occur on private land, according to the latest deer report from the National Deer Association, released today. Texas reported the highest rate of deer hunting on private land at 99%, while Massachusetts reported the highest rate of deer hunting on public land at 43%.

“Most of America’s 600 million acres of public lands are in the West, but proportionately few hunters are residents of those states,” said NDA director of conservation Kip Adams, and one of the authors of the report. report. “Most whitetails live in the eastern states along with most hunters, and these new data underscore the importance of habitat management conservation and hunting deer on private land.”

NDA’s Deer Report is available for free download at this link.

The NDA’s new Deer Report includes an estimated 2021-22 season deer harvest of more than 5.9 million, so it follows that approximately 5.2 million of those whitetails were taken on private land compared to just over 700,000 on public land, more than seven times as many. . Regionally, the private land harvest rate included 93% in the Southeast, 91% in the Midwest, and 81% in the Northeast. Full state-by-state data is available in the full report.

“This does not diminish the importance of public game lands,” Adams said. “We need to acquire more public hunting lands in the east, and we need to better manage habitat on existing public lands. But for hunter recruitment, herd management and all the ways that we want to protect and enhance deer hunting, we need to understand that the majority of those opportunities will be on privately owned acres.”

In a related finding from the new Deer Report, 27 of the 47 states (57%) offer a hunting access program on private land. The biggest opportunity for new programs is in the Southeast, where only three of 11 states offered such programs in 2022, and where 93% of deer hunting is on private land.

Antlered Deer Harvest

Additional findings from the new report include an estimated 2021-22 antler deer harvest of 2,969,596, the fourth-highest in the past 10 hunting seasons, though 2% less than the new-century high deer harvest set in 2020.

Harvesting Antlerless Deer

The estimated antlerless deer harvest of 2,963,921 was 8% lower than the previous season, falling below the level of the antlered deer harvest. The previous season’s antlerless crop of 3,207,937 was 12% higher than the previous season, a significant jump that has now been corrected.

dollar age structure

American deer hunters continue to take more adult and mature bucks than ever in the history of modern deer hunting. One-year-old males (1½ years) accounted for 27% of the 2021-22 male crop, up 1% from the previous season’s record low of 26%. This means that older males still account for a large part of the crop: 40% of the male crop was 3 1/2 years or older, also down 1% from the previous season’s record 41%.

Some other highlights

  • 66% of deer taken in the 2020-21 season were killed with a firearm compared to 25% with archery equipment and 9% with muzzleloaders.
  • Texas has the most deer hunters in the nation (756,000), but ranks very low in deer hunters per square mile at 2.9. Pennsylvania has the highest number of deer hunters per square mile at 14.4, followed by New York (12.0), Wisconsin (11.4), New Jersey (10.5), and Michigan (9.5).
  • 74% of Illinois deer hunters hunt with archery equipment, the highest rate in the country. Massachusetts has the most muzzleloader deer hunters at 70%.
  • 12 of the 31 reporting states allow predation crop permit holders to take antlered bucks any time of year, under any circumstances, using the permits.
  • All state wildlife agencies in the lower 48 states use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to communicate with constituents. Eight of the 48 use TikTok.

NDA’s 2023 Deer Report covers data from the 2021-22 hunting season, the most recent season with complete harvest data available from all major deer states. Complete state-by-state estimates of the total buck deer harvest, buck age structure, and many other harvest parameters are available in the comprehensive Deer Report, which also includes a look at many other issues critical to the deer hunting.

Join the NDA and support their mission today, or sign up for their free email newsletter to receive the latest on deer hunting and management at DeerAssociation.com

About the National Deer Association

The National Deer Association is the leading nonprofit deer conservation group, working to ensure the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat, and game. Formed by combining the strengths of two long-standing successful organizations, the National Deer Association has a combined 40-year effort that has changed deer management to improve hunting and protect America’s most vital and admired game species. North America for future generations. Visit DeerAssociation.com or follow @deerassociation on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.