By Scott Bestul
I thought the thermometer and Peyton Manning’s bid for best quarterback ever were the only things bottoming out. But according to a press release from the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), the percentage of yearling (1-1/2-year-old) bucks in America’s annual whitetail harvest is lower than ever.
Among the fascinating stats in the QDMA’s annual “Whitetail Report,” a yearly compilation of all things whitetail, only 37 percent of bucks killed by hunters nationwide during the 2012-13 season were yearlings. Back in 1988, when the QDMA started tracking this number, 62 percent of bucks shot by hunters were yearlings. That’s a 25-percent drop in as many seasons.
Kip Adams, QDMA’s Director of Education and Outreach and a certified wildlife biologist is naturally pleased with the numbers. “Hunters in some states still shoot a high percentage of yearling bucks,” he says. “But overall, the trend is moving toward protection of at least some yearling bucks, as hunters are recognizing the benefits of having some mature bucks in the population—and it’s not just about antlers.”