Virginia 2014–2015 Deer Kill Summary

Virginia Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

During the past deer season 190,745 deer were reported killed by deer hunters in Virginia. This total included 88,148 antlered bucks, 14,592 button bucks, 87,937 does (46%), and 68 "unclassified" deer. The fall 2014 deer kill total was down 22% from the 244,440 deer reported killed last year. It is also 18% below the last ten year average of 233,350.

The youth deer hunting day in September resulted in a deer kill of 1,890 deer. Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 15,178 deer. The bow kill comprised 8% of the total deer kill. Crossbows resulted in a deer kill of 10,852 deer or 6% of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 48,282 deer or 25% of the total deer kill. Approximately 149,750 deer (79%) were checked using the Department’s telephone and Internet checking systems.

Total deer kill levels were down across all physiographic regions including Tidewater, Southern Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Southern Mountains, and Northern Mountains. However deer kill declines were greater east of the Blue Ridge Mountains (down 24%) than west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (down 16%).

Declining deer kills in Virginia are not unexpected. The Department’s primary deer management effort over the past five to 10 years has been to increase the female deer kill over much of the state, especially on private lands, to meet the deer population objectives of stabilizing or reducing deer populations found in Virginia’s deer management plan.

However, the magnitude of the 2014 deer kill decline was greater than anticipated. There are several possible explanations. First and foremost are the liberal either-sex deer hunting regulations (doe days) the Department has had in place since 2008. These liberal regulations were expected to eventually result in a decline in the deer herd and the annual deer kill totals, even without the added impact from hemorrhagic disease (HD), which showed up in at least 28 counties in eastern Virginia this past fall prior to the opening of deer season. In the past, HD has caused 20-35% declines in the annual deer kill within counties in Virginia. Typically these HD-impacted deer herds recover after 2-3 years. In addition, acorns were plentiful during hunting season, reducing the need for deer to move long distances in search of food, making them less vulnerable to hunters. Without these other factors, liberal deer seasons would likely reduce the deer kill more gradually, over a number of years.

Data presented in this summary do not include deer taken during the late urban archery or special late antlerless-only deer seasons. Data also do not include deer killed on out-of-season kill permits or those deer hit and killed by vehicles.

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