Hunters in Kentucky harvested 81,875 deer during the state-wide gun season this fall. This number seems impressive for a three-week period and when looking at it by itself, but it ranks 8th among the last 10 gun season harvest totals.
The last three gun seasons have produced the worst harvest totals in a decade. Gun season 2009 is ranked 9th with 81,363 harvests and last year’s gun season ranked dead last (79,026) on the list. Two reasons that may explain the low numbers are inclement weather and a decrease in hunters.
This gun season was plagued by horrible weather conditions for hunting. Hunters dealt with warm, windy and rainy days during the entire gun season, you could count the ideal hunting days on one hand. Warm, windy and rainy probably kept some hunters out of the woods resulting in a low harvest number.
Gun season 2010, the worst in 10 years, hunters experienced the same weather conditions. It was warm, windy and rainy.
Deer have their winter coats on during the gun season. Severe changes in the weather change deer movement, making them harder to hunt. If one day is 30 degrees and frosty in the morning and the next day is 50 degrees and windy, which day do you think deer are going to be most active? During warmer days deer will lay up because they will be hot from their heavy coats.
Hunting is an expensive hobby when considering all of the licenses and tags, gear, ammunition and miscellaneous items that hunters need. During the last three years the economy has been poor with the loss of jobs and cost of living continuing to increase. Gas prices are staying above $3.00 a gallon and every trip to the grocery store costs over $100. This is a factor that may be affecting harvest numbers. There could be fewer hunters in the woods than before.
Owen and Pendleton Counties are the only two in the state to record harvest over 2,000 deer during the gun season. Hunters in Owen Co. took 2,412 deer and hunters in Pendleton Co. harvested 2,083 deer, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Web site.
Fall 2010 produced the lowest deer harvest total since 2001. Hunters harvested 110,376 deer during the deer season last year. So far in 2011 hunters have taken 103,697 deer, and as of now, it may be tough to surpass last year’s total.
There are still plenty of opportunities to get out after the deer. The archery season will be open until Jan. 16, 2012. Hunters will also have one more chance to hunt deer with a muzzleloader on Dec. 10-18.