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Major Deer States: 2011 Whitetail Status Report

Major Deer States: 2011 Whitetail Status Report
(Terry Owens photo)
What is the current and short-term status of whitetail populations in major deer states? That's the question we wanted to answer, partly in light of a recent media report that whitetail populations are supposedly in for a national crash.

After talking to whitetail biologists in 18 states, the overall national picture for whitetail populations and whitetail hunters is good to very good almost across the board.

How did we choose the 18? Nothing scientific, just a combination of states known for deer hunting, quality deer, deer numbers and/or deer harvest. If you would like to see your state included next year, let us know.

A few notes about the numbers:

  • Deer population estimates are just that – estimates – and methodologies vary, so apples-to-apples comparisons are tough. Pennsylvania doesn't issue an estimate, and other states are thinking about following suit because estimates invariably clash with hunter experiences.
  • Economic impact also is an estimate based on federal or state figures, and it seems to be defined differently by different people. We tried to include the actual impact: hunting spending plus "value added from hunting" spending. Also, in most cases the figures are at least five years behind the current year, so they're understated. Nonetheless it gives a good idea of how important deer hunting is to state economies.
  • The 1-5 scale ratings of hunting and the deer herd this season vs. five years from now were given by each state biologist and are subjective. (1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal)

A note about the "Doom or Gloom" question: That was included because of a recent article predicting a coming "deer depression," or crash. The opinions of the biologists we spoke to about that article ranged from contempt to appreciation, but the bottom line is no one foresees a major crash in the deer herds in their states.

StateDeer PopulationHunting Economic Impact2012 RatingRating in 5 Years2011 Forecast
Texas4 million$2 billion44.5View Report
Illinois725,000$472 million55View Report
Iowa300,000$214 million45View Report
Kansas600,000$280 million4.754.75View Report
Missouri1.4 million$1.1 billion44View Report
Ohio750,000$1 billion55View Report
Michigan1.7 million$700 million44View Report
Minnesota1 million$800 million43View Report
Wisconsin1.5 million$1.1 billion44.5View Report
Maine175,000$200 million3.54View Report
New York940,000$1.4 billion44View Report
Pennsylvania[not public]$1.5 billion44View Report
Alabama1.6 million$1.5 billion44View Report
Arkansas900,000$600 million3.53.5View Report
Georgia900,000$900 million45View Report
Louisiana750,000$500 million44View Report
Mississippi1.7 million$1.4 billion55View Report
South Carolina725,000$530 million44View Report

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