Skip to main content

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

Recent Videos

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Gear

Trika Rods

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Gear

New Shimano Baitcasters

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Hunting

Incredible Turkey Audio: Tommy Allen Punches his Minnesota Tag IN THE SNOW

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Destinations

First Turkey Ever: Perfect Conditions Make for a Short Hunt

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Fishing

Bass Crash Course: Bass Froggin' Game Plan

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Videos

What to Know Before Going Off-Road

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Learn

Off-Road Safety Tips and Techniques

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Gear

The Right Tires for Off-Roading

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Learn

Bass Crash Course: Shallow-Water Power Lures

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Destinations

Minnesota Double Down: First Visit to New Farm Goes Perfectly

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Fishing

Bass Crash Course: Bass Fishing in the Wind

Taylor is a known turkey killer in her family, and this year is no different. After an enjoyable gobbling morning, a war...
Hunting

She Kills The Biggest Bird of the Year

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

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

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now