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Bad Year for Big Bucks?

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April 21, 2011

Bad Year for Big Bucks?

By Scott Bestul

Most of the post-season deer shows in the Midwest have wrapped up by now, and from reports I’m getting, overall entries into the big buck contests were down significantly. According to a scorer friend at the Illinois Deer Classic, hunters brought in 307 bucks to the Prairie State show, a drop of 192 deer from last year. Over the last seven years, the Illinois Classic has averaged 517 entries in the big buck contests, and in two years (2005 and 2008) measurers scored over 600 bucks in each show.

Illinois isn’t alone, however. Deer shows in Ohio and Missouri also saw a drop in big buck entries this year, with the Buckeye numbers down some 30% and Show Me entries dropping some 40%. Wisconsin seemed the only bright spot, with no noticeable change from last season. I’m curious why these numbers have fallen so dramatically, and on a rather broad scale. Were hunting conditions just not conducive to killing monster deer last fall? Are Midwest deer numbers down that much? Or are hunters suddenly reluctant to enter trophies for fear of exposing a general area or specific spot? And then there’s this; is the economy just bad enough that driving to a show and paying an entry fee is just too much for a financially-strapped hunter?

Theories?

Comments (25)

Top Rated
All Comments
from ilikehunting wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I think part of the problem is the financial part you mentioned. However, I know that in Missouri this past fall we had such a massive acorn drop that most deer did not hit the fields as much as usual.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from fromthepeavine wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I know the high gas prices have kept me from going to stuff like that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from db270 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I also think financial struggles are keeping people from booking high-priced, monster buck hunts. Something environmental must have been going on, too. I saw some dandies at the end of summer, but only saw VERY few of those deer on stand. Rough on all accounts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

saw only 2 deer here in ohio both does only got 1 shot and missed. it could have been worse thogh

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I think there are a lot of hunters who get big deer that could care less about going to a show.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ChristopherHarris wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I saw three deer in north Texas where I hunt all year including bow season. Everyone I have talked saw the same or less than what I saw . I thin it was universally a bad whitetail year

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Avanano wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

A good way away...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

from gas prices to entry fees for these shows, many just can't afford it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

In NW MN it has been slow for big bucks, I've heard it from many hunters. I don't know if it's because of conditions, or there are less big bucks, or if they are just becoming more nocturnal. I haven't filled my buck tag since 2008 - haven't even had a fair chance at a shooter since then. Til the next one comes along I'll keep letting the little ones grow and thinning out the does though. With the price of beef nowdays I think I'll be taking plenty of does this fall!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnm626 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Best and worst year ever. I had time to watch a 140" Buck chase a doe for 20 mins and decided to pass on him. As I turned to hang my bow there was a 185" working a Scrape. I shot him at 40 yrds (A bit uncomfortable for me) but made a solid hit. After 3 hrs I called a friend went looking and still looking. That was the bad. The Good, I saw more Booners this year than in the past 5 years in those same woods or during strolls to search for my deer, which I am still "Strolling" for!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank111 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Any stats from Iowa? We had a big carryover last season of older bucks, because of the year before, alot of the corn stayed up all winter and there was so much snow hunters could not get around.I know of at least 4 200"+ bucks killed in this area, but like me most dont get them officially scored or taken to shows.I dont know how many other states have a january antlerless season like Iowa,but that is responsible here for killing ALOT of mature shedded bucks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I'll add one more point on the financial end. I think an out of work hunter is a lot less likely to let 100lbs of meat walk by becuase of the lack of impressive antlers than he might have been in a good year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter365 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

The massive acorn crop in Oklahoma kept the buck sightings down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Who is that ugly guy in the photo?????

Just kidding Marc A. I enjoy all your posts over at heartland, thought I'd give a fellow Illinoisan some trouble.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cunninghamww wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Midwest had a really funky rut this year. Moon phase was off a bit, and the deer just weren't themselves. I hunt in Southern Illinois and it was, without a doubt, the strangest year I have ever experienced. Most of the taxidermists said they took in larger deer than usual, but in far, far fewer numbers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwerner wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Tons of acorns, extremely dry conditions, and bad moon phases during the rut really affected the Missouri numbers. I dont mind though, that means next year there should be some good deer running around. I dont think I'd take a deer to a show unless it was a booner

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nwild wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

It was not that many years ago people in mn were lucky
To see brown fur...period. I really think we are riding the downside of an alltime crest. Kevin has the right idea. If you want to see real horns on your meat it is time to let the little guys walk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Deer harvest numbers have always and always will fluctuate.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

where i hunt in MI from what i heard you either had a great year or a bad year. for some reason instead of the deer being everywhere like they used to be, there were extemeley large amounts of them scattered in pockets around the area i was hunting. i talked to some other guys that hunt near me, saw alot of great bucks on trail cam, but only on confirmed dead at the end of the season....guess that means alot of big ones running around me next year?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BlueMNguy wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Lots of acorns in MN this last year. Some of us took a doe right away because we wanted meat in our freezer. If we passed up that doe for a huge buck, we might have gone meatless. Too many people are waiting for that big buck and I just wonder how the antlers taste!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigbo95 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Even though I hunt in alabama, i havn't seen a shooter buck in three years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Berardi wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

My friend is an official scorer here in Ohio & told me he believed as many readers that the bad economy is the primary reason for lack of deer at the shows(Ohio's expo buck #s were way down too). There are still just as many large antlered deer being harvested in my opinion from what I see posted on the web & talking to hunters from the Midwest. Jim

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

I think it's alot of things. The economy, and hunters who don't care about shows, and I'm definitely buying the acorn stuff, I'm turkey hunting right now, and am finding areas of Oak that the ground is STILL covered with un-eaten acorns. I'll buy into the moon phase stuff too, just didn't see the "rutting" behaviour as much this year as in years past.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

it almost seemed as if a rut never really took place, saw lots of deer chasing in early october but come november, nothing but does. then in late february two 10 pointers show up in my backyard (yes with antlers that late) chasing a doe...go figure!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

the rut in my area of MI was apparently right on schedule and was pretty good. i wasnt able to hunt alot of it but when i did get out i saw some pretty good chasing action going on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from ilikehunting wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I think part of the problem is the financial part you mentioned. However, I know that in Missouri this past fall we had such a massive acorn drop that most deer did not hit the fields as much as usual.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

In NW MN it has been slow for big bucks, I've heard it from many hunters. I don't know if it's because of conditions, or there are less big bucks, or if they are just becoming more nocturnal. I haven't filled my buck tag since 2008 - haven't even had a fair chance at a shooter since then. Til the next one comes along I'll keep letting the little ones grow and thinning out the does though. With the price of beef nowdays I think I'll be taking plenty of does this fall!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from fromthepeavine wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I know the high gas prices have kept me from going to stuff like that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from db270 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I also think financial struggles are keeping people from booking high-priced, monster buck hunts. Something environmental must have been going on, too. I saw some dandies at the end of summer, but only saw VERY few of those deer on stand. Rough on all accounts.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I think there are a lot of hunters who get big deer that could care less about going to a show.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nwild wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

It was not that many years ago people in mn were lucky
To see brown fur...period. I really think we are riding the downside of an alltime crest. Kevin has the right idea. If you want to see real horns on your meat it is time to let the little guys walk.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Berardi wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

My friend is an official scorer here in Ohio & told me he believed as many readers that the bad economy is the primary reason for lack of deer at the shows(Ohio's expo buck #s were way down too). There are still just as many large antlered deer being harvested in my opinion from what I see posted on the web & talking to hunters from the Midwest. Jim

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Plotner wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

saw only 2 deer here in ohio both does only got 1 shot and missed. it could have been worse thogh

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ChristopherHarris wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I saw three deer in north Texas where I hunt all year including bow season. Everyone I have talked saw the same or less than what I saw . I thin it was universally a bad whitetail year

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Avanano wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

A good way away...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

from gas prices to entry fees for these shows, many just can't afford it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnm626 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Best and worst year ever. I had time to watch a 140" Buck chase a doe for 20 mins and decided to pass on him. As I turned to hang my bow there was a 185" working a Scrape. I shot him at 40 yrds (A bit uncomfortable for me) but made a solid hit. After 3 hrs I called a friend went looking and still looking. That was the bad. The Good, I saw more Booners this year than in the past 5 years in those same woods or during strolls to search for my deer, which I am still "Strolling" for!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hank111 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Any stats from Iowa? We had a big carryover last season of older bucks, because of the year before, alot of the corn stayed up all winter and there was so much snow hunters could not get around.I know of at least 4 200"+ bucks killed in this area, but like me most dont get them officially scored or taken to shows.I dont know how many other states have a january antlerless season like Iowa,but that is responsible here for killing ALOT of mature shedded bucks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I'll add one more point on the financial end. I think an out of work hunter is a lot less likely to let 100lbs of meat walk by becuase of the lack of impressive antlers than he might have been in a good year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter365 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

The massive acorn crop in Oklahoma kept the buck sightings down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Who is that ugly guy in the photo?????

Just kidding Marc A. I enjoy all your posts over at heartland, thought I'd give a fellow Illinoisan some trouble.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cunninghamww wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Midwest had a really funky rut this year. Moon phase was off a bit, and the deer just weren't themselves. I hunt in Southern Illinois and it was, without a doubt, the strangest year I have ever experienced. Most of the taxidermists said they took in larger deer than usual, but in far, far fewer numbers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dwerner wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Tons of acorns, extremely dry conditions, and bad moon phases during the rut really affected the Missouri numbers. I dont mind though, that means next year there should be some good deer running around. I dont think I'd take a deer to a show unless it was a booner

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Deer harvest numbers have always and always will fluctuate.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

where i hunt in MI from what i heard you either had a great year or a bad year. for some reason instead of the deer being everywhere like they used to be, there were extemeley large amounts of them scattered in pockets around the area i was hunting. i talked to some other guys that hunt near me, saw alot of great bucks on trail cam, but only on confirmed dead at the end of the season....guess that means alot of big ones running around me next year?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BlueMNguy wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Lots of acorns in MN this last year. Some of us took a doe right away because we wanted meat in our freezer. If we passed up that doe for a huge buck, we might have gone meatless. Too many people are waiting for that big buck and I just wonder how the antlers taste!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigbo95 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

Even though I hunt in alabama, i havn't seen a shooter buck in three years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

I think it's alot of things. The economy, and hunters who don't care about shows, and I'm definitely buying the acorn stuff, I'm turkey hunting right now, and am finding areas of Oak that the ground is STILL covered with un-eaten acorns. I'll buy into the moon phase stuff too, just didn't see the "rutting" behaviour as much this year as in years past.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from coachsjike wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

it almost seemed as if a rut never really took place, saw lots of deer chasing in early october but come november, nothing but does. then in late february two 10 pointers show up in my backyard (yes with antlers that late) chasing a doe...go figure!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from scratchgolf72 wrote 2 years 50 weeks ago

the rut in my area of MI was apparently right on schedule and was pretty good. i wasnt able to hunt alot of it but when i did get out i saw some pretty good chasing action going on.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment