Americans Letting Bucks Grow

U.S. hunters set record-low harvest rate of yearling bucks

Americans Letting Bucks Grow
U.S. hunters set record-low harvest rate of yearling bucks

More 1.5-year-old bucks (yearlings) are getting a pass from deer hunters than at any time in modern history, according to data gathered by QDMA for its 2014 Whitetail Report, now available free online.

In the 2012-13 season, the most recent season with complete deer harvest data available from all states, only 37 percent of antlered bucks killed by hunters in the United States were yearlings, down from over 62 percent in 1988, the year QDMA was founded. Antlered bucks do not include "button bucks," so this means that nearly two-thirds of antlered bucks killed by hunters in 2012-13 were 2.5 years or older.

QDMA yearling buck harvest 2012

"The trend is clear, more deer hunters are choosing the benefits that come from protecting yearling bucks and building numbers of older bucks in a deer population," said Kip Adams, a wildlife biologist and QDMA's Director of Education & Outreach, who compiles the annual Whitetail Report. "The decline in yearling-buck harvest has been more rapid in some states than others, and hunters in a handful of states still take high percentages of yearling bucks, but even in most of those states the trend is in the right direction."

When most yearling bucks are protected and survive to adulthood, hunters witness more rut behaviors, get more responses with rattling and grunt calls, see more scrapes and rubs, find more shed antlers, and see and kill mature bucks more frequently.


"Deer hunting is just more fun and exciting when you protect most yearling bucks," Adams said. "QDMA doesn’t recommend protecting every yearling buck, in fact we fully support and encourage youth and new hunters having the opportunity to harvest them if they choose.


“QDMA simply recommends protecting the majority of yearling bucks. We want hunters to know the benefits of having a more natural age structure and to realize how their hunting can improve when they graduate from taking yearling bucks."

Voluntary restraint by hunters plays a significant role in reducing harvest rates among yearling bucks. QDMA found that among the five states with the lowest yearling-buck harvest rates, two of them, Kansas (14 percent) and Oklahoma (15 percent), do not have any mandatory antler restrictions at the state or regional level. Additionally, the national rate has been declining in recent years even without any new states adding statewide antler-based harvest restrictions.

"Though we recognize state-mandated antler restrictions are wanted and needed in some situations, we have always said we prefer this choice to be voluntary among hunters who want the benefits of an older buck age structure," Adams said.

QDMA's full report includes state-by-state yearling buck harvest rates, states with the most rapid drop in recent seasons, states with the highest percentage of mature bucks (3.5 and older) in their harvest, and more. Additionally, the report takes a look at trends in deer harvest by weapon type, deer tagging and reporting requirements by state, impacts of the 2012 hemorrhagic disease outbreak, public input in deer management by state, and many other topics.


Download a free PDF of the 2014 Whitetail Report here:
http://www.qdma.com/corporate/whitetail-report

Order a printed copy of the 64-page report for $10 here:
http://www.qdma.com/shop/qdmas-2014-whitetail-report

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Safely Transport Kayak, Canoe with Malone Auto Racks

Mike Carney highlights three products deigned to get you there and back; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Tackle Test 2020: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Carbon

Tackle Test 2020: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Carbon

Tackle Test 2020: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Carbon

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

Stripping a reel and adding fresh line is a breeze if you know the drill—literally.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

Shad are a big part of the catfish angler's arsenal, as long as you can catch a few that is. Fishing How-To

How to Use Electronics to Catch Baitfish

Game & Fish Staff

Shad are a big part of the catfish angler's arsenal, as long as you can catch a few that is.

30 awards presented (virtually) from the New Product Showcase. ICAST

ICAST 2020 Best of Category Winners

Game & Fish Staff - July 16, 2020

30 awards presented (virtually) from the New Product Showcase.

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Conservation & Politics

NSSF: Moms Demand Action Wants No Cops and No Guns

Game & Fish Staff - July 17, 2020

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working? Conservation & Politics

Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order

M.D. Johnson - March 30, 2020

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt? Stories

The Gray Area of Hunting in America

Andrew McKean - April 27, 2020

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to re-examine many cherished traditions, but hunting remains an essential activity. Stories

Perspective: Why We Hunt

Andrew McKean - August 12, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to re-examine many cherished traditions, but hunting...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now