Hunters set another management milestone in 2010-11 with the lowest-ever percentage of yearling bucks among the nation’s whitetail harvest, according to the Quality Deer Management Association.
In its annual Whitetail Report unveiled last week, the Georgia-based conservation group said those vulnerable, 18-month-old antlered bucks accounted for just 38 percent of the buck harvest – the lowest percentage since recordkeeping began in 1989, when the figure was 61 percent.
The number is an important barometer to gauge the success of efforts to allow smaller bucks to grow into large ones – a practice that has been paying off in Georgia, but might have slipped somewhat during the 2010-11 season.
Georgia’s percentage of yearling bucks among all antlered bucks killed had been in a steady decline over the past half-decade, but rose from 37 percent to 47 percent during the 2010-11 season. Consequently, the percentage of mature bucks among the total buck harvest fell, with 3-year-old and older bucks accounting for just 20 percent – a significant drop from the 34 percent recorded in the 2009-10 season, the report said.
South Carolina, which reported 65 percent of the bucks killed in the 2009-10 season were yearlings, did not provide 2010-11 data in time for the report. The state’s percentage of 3-year-old and older bucks, which fell from 18 percent in 2008 to just 15 percent in 2009, also was not available, the QDMA analysis said.
From a national perspective, Kansas had the lowest percentage of yearling bucks killed, at 9 percent, while Vermont’s 68 percent was the highest.
Georgia hunters continued the trend of taking larger numbers of antlerless deer, reporting a harvest of 258,536 in 2009-10 that increased to 308,747 in 2010-11.
South Carolina hunters shot fewer antlerless deer, dropping from 111,338 in 2009-10 to 105,894 in 2010-11, the report said.
The 60-page report is available to the public and includes data on coyote control and deer predators, baiting, whitetail diseases, the economic impact of deer hunting, license sales, safety programs and other industry trends.
CRACKERNECK OPEN: Aiken County’s Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area will open to the public March 3, 10, 17 and 24 to allow scouting, fishing and other activities.
The area includes 10,470 acres owned by the U.S. Department of Energy along the Savannah River south of Jackson. Access is off Brown Road near U.S. Highway 125. To request a map, call (803) 725-3663 or e-mail CaudellM@dnr.sc.gov.
CAMPGROUND CUTS: Thurmond Lake’s recreation services budget has fallen from $5 million to just $3.6 million since 2007, according to the Corps of Engineers, which plans to absorb the most recent reductions by opening some parks later than usual and closing others earlier than in the past.
Delayed openings at five campgrounds: Winfield, Big Hart, Raysville, Modoc and Broad River. Those sites usually open March 1, and this year will open either March 15 or April 1.
This fall, Raysville and Modoc, which usually close at the end of October, will instead close Sept. 30. Clay Hill, usually open until Sept. 30, will close Sept. 3 after Labor Day weekend.
Also, the following day-use areas will be open May 1 through Labor Day this year: Parksville, West Dam, Lake Springs and Amity. Boat ramps at Parksville, Lake Springs and Amity will remain open all year. Most day-use areas had been open through Sept. 30.