Tennessee Hunters Record Largest Deer Harvest Since 2015

by Matthew Wilson

Deer was definitely on the menu in Tennessee. Hunters in the state recorded their largest deer harvest since all the way back in 2015.

Deer hunting first started in the state during the summer. Hunters posted strong numbers back then. But they really turned out in spades, producing a large haul this past January. Overall, deer harvest was up 20 percent than it was for the 2019-2020 season.

So how many deer does that equal? Well, we glad you asked because Tennesseans feasted on venison this past year. In total, hunters killed around 159,962 deer. Breaking that down either further, the majority of the deer were bucks. Hunters took down 88,641 bucks during this past year. An additional 64,812 deer were doe. Meanwhile, antlerless male deer made up the smallest percentage at just 6,442 deer.

How does this compare to last year? For the 2010-20 hunting season, a total of 135,135 deer were harvested. This has been Tennessee’s largest hunting season in six years.

More Hunters Than Before

Deer may have the COVID-19 pandemic to blame. But there were more hunters in the woods this year than in seasons past. It turns out that hunting makes for an excellent leisure activity during a global pandemic. People hopped aboard the recreational activity, choosing to spend time in the great outdoors and relieve some tension.

The state is hopeful that the boom will continue over to turkey season and fishing.

“The hunters showed up and a lot of that was a lot of licenses sold this year that we hadn’t sold in the past,” Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency information specialist Barry Cross told the Tennessean. “They got out and they harvested deer and hopefully we can keep this going straight on through turkey season (April 3-May 16) and straight into fishing. Not because we want to make money (off license sales), but because we want people to discover the outdoors.”

In the past five years, the average harvest was 145,112. Giles, Montgomery, and Hardeman ranked as the three counties with the largest deer harvest. The secret’s out that Tennessee has a thriving deer population.

“Tennessee’s got a good deer population,” Cross said. “The deer population seems to be getting some age on it. We’re seeing a lot of 3-and-a-half year-old bucks harvested, which is a good thing. Of course, we’re always seeing young bucks harvested. But the older deer get, the more impressive it is for the hunter.”