HomeOutdoors2021 Was the Best Year for U.S. Deer Hunters in Over Two Decades

2021 Was the Best Year for U.S. Deer Hunters in Over Two Decades

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

You may have noticed within the last year a lot of successful deer hunting stories and reports emerged. It turns out there’s a good reason for it, as 2021 was the best year for U. S. deer hunters in more than two decades.

The National Deer Association released its annual Deer Report this week and 2021 was an amazing year for hunting. The report states hunters harvested a whopping 6.3 million whitetails over the 2020-2021 season. This is the highest amount since 2011. Additionally, roughly 3 million of them were bucks, which also makes this the biggest buck harvest in 21 years.

Outdoor Life breaks down the statistics a bit further, saying hunters did kill more bucks during the 1999-2000 season. However, more than half of them were yearling. Conversely, this year’s harvest had significantly more mature deer. Only 26 percent were yearlings and a whopping 41 percent were older than 3 and a half years old.

Kip Adamas, NDA’s chief conservation officer, released a statement praising the fact so many older bucks were harvested. “[In] 2020 we saw the highest buck harvest in the new century, and amazingly we estimate that we set another new record for the percentage of those bucks that were 3½ years old or older. U.S. hunters are taking fewer yearling bucks and killing more of them as mature deer, but this doesn’t mean fewer bucks harvested overall. We’re killing older bucks and more bucks than ever in America.”

As far as state numbers go, Texas comes out on top with 449,933 bucks harvested. The Northeast winner is 174,780 while Michigan led the Midwest with 219,387 harvested bucks. In the west, Oregon barely beat Colorado with 36,615 compared to the latter’s 35,366.

Despite Record National Numbers, Missouri Hunters Harvested Fewer Deer This Year Than Last Year

Though the numbers across the board for deer harvesting seem high, it appears some states fell a little short. Missouri happens to be one of them, with hunters harvesting fewer deer this year than last season.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently released numbers for last season’s deer harvest and numbers are lower than expected. The total equals 293,670, which is slightly lower than last year. Jason Isabelle serves as Cervid Program Supervisor for MDC and commented on the totals.

“This year’s harvest total was slightly behind last year’s mark and about 3% above the previous five-year average,” Isabelle stated. “We’ve seen an increasing trend in statewide deer harvest for about the past eight years,” said Isabelle. “The deer population has continued to increase across much of southern Missouri at the same time that we’ve seen a population recovery in most of the counties impacted by the severe hemorrhagic disease outbreak that occurred in 2012.”

Upon reading the news, people online speculated why the numbers aren’t as high as expected. Many reported landowners not allowing hunters to use their property this year, while others cite Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) as a primary factor.

Regardless, the numbers are still nothing to be ashamed of.