2017 New England Deer Forecast
By: Stephen D. Carpenteri
Here's what New England states' whitetail managers are saying about the 2016 harvest and how things are shaping up for 2017
2017 Massachusetts Deer Forecast
According to MassWildlife deer project biologists, both archery and primitive firearms seasons produced record harvests in 2016. Total harvest was near record levels as well. The harvest was likely low in 2015 due to unseasonably warm weather, lack of snow, and an abundance of food, conditions that meant deer did not have to move as often or as far during legal hunting hours.
The increased harvest during the 2016 season was likely partly a result of the low harvest in 2015 — because fewer deer had been killed the year before, there were more for hunters last season. Another advantage for hunters last year was that weather was much more favorable for hunting.
While total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn’t provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone as well as annual changes in hunter effort, weather, etc.
The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual deer management review.
2017 Illinois Deer Forecast
According to Connecticut deer biologist Andrew Labonte, the harvest was up slightly from the harvest numbers in 2015.
“This was expected due to fewer deer being killed that year, a mild winter, and our acorn assessment showing slightly fewer acorns than the previous year,” Labonte said. “Despite concerns by hunters of not seeing deer (due to so many acorns), the mild winters and record acorn abundances two years in a row suggest that the herd is still doing quite well. So far spring weather is looking good for acorn production again this year, but to have such high productivity three years in a row will be quite surprising.
“Our predator population (bears and bobcats) continues to grow,” Labonte noted, “so a tag restriction (no more antlerless deer tags will be issued for the shotgun/rifle season) was implemented this past year in one of our deer management zones with the highest bear densities. This tag restriction will be in place this coming year and likely for years to come.”
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