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.
|State||Deer Population||Hunting Economic Impact||2012 Rating||Rating in 5 Years||2011 Forecast|
|Texas||4 million||$2 billion||4||4.5||View Report|
|Illinois||725,000||$472 million||5||5||View Report|
|Iowa||300,000||$214 million||4||5||View Report|
|Kansas||600,000||$280 million||4.75||4.75||View Report|
|Missouri||1.4 million||$1.1 billion||4||4||View Report|
|Ohio||750,000||$1 billion||5||5||View Report|
|Michigan||1.7 million||$700 million||4||4||View Report|
|Minnesota||1 million||$800 million||4||3||View Report|
|Wisconsin||1.5 million||$1.1 billion||4||4.5||View Report|
|Maine||175,000||$200 million||3.5||4||View Report|
|New York||940,000||$1.4 billion||4||4||View Report|
|Pennsylvania||[not public]||$1.5 billion||4||4||View Report|
|Alabama||1.6 million||$1.5 billion||4||4||View Report|
|Arkansas||900,000||$600 million||3.5||3.5||View Report|
|Georgia||900,000||$900 million||4||5||View Report|
|Louisiana||750,000||$500 million||4||4||View Report|
|Mississippi||1.7 million||$1.4 billion||5||5||View Report|
|South Carolina||725,000||$530 million||4||4||View Report|