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 Deer Hunters Set State Record in '08; Numbers Up in Area

March 4, 2009 -  Indiana deer hunters registered a state record by bagging more than 129,000 deer during the 2008 hunting season.

The 129,748 total surpassed the previous high mark of 125,526 set in 2005 and represented a 4 percent increase over the 2007 season.

"That's a remarkable increase that reflects the skills possessed by Hoosier hunters," DNR director Robert E. Carter Jr. said. "It's good to see them continue to help manage deer populations while putting food on the table."

The taking of antlerless deer - does and fawns of either sex - played a key role in the sharp increase. The 78,903 antlerless deer that were reported were a single-season record and 5 percent higher than 2007. Antlerless totals exceeded 1,000 deer in 29 counties compared to 25 counties in 2007, and antlerless deer constituted half the total harvest in 88 of 92 counties.

The 2008 antlered total of 50,845 was a 3 percent increase over 2007 and was the third highest on record.

Locally, the deer harvest pretty much stayed the course. In Henry County, the deer harvest was 491, while in Hancock it was 279 and in Rush 312. Henry County traditionally sees more deer taken than the smaller Rush and Hancock to the west, which has lost much of the deer’s habitat due to new home construction.

Despite bad weather on opening day of the firearm season (Nov. 15-30), that segment still accounted for 67 percent, or 86,454 deer, of the total harvest. That was a 7 percent increase over 2007.

Early archery season (Oct. 1 to Nov. 30) accounted for 20 percent of the total, with 12 percent coming in the muzzleloader season (Dec. 6-21). The youth (Sept. 27-28) and late archery (Dec. 6 to Jan. 4) seasons each accounted for 1 percent of the total.

For the fourth straight year, Steuben County, in the state's northeast corner, was the top county for deer hunting success with 3,672 deer reported, a slight decrease from 2007. Steuben also ranked first in antlered harvest with 1,214 deer. Kosciusko, Noble and Marshall Counties ranked 2-3-4, all with record totals above 3,000. Record harvests were established in 33 more counties and tied in one.

It was the fifth straight season in which the total harvest topped 120,000 deer. Approximately 2.59 million deer have been legally taken during the past 57 deer hunting seasons in Indiana.



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