The TWRA reports fewer deer are being harvested this year as the overall hunting season reaches the halfway point.
Wildlife Biologist Ben Layton says the number of deer harvested during archery, muzzleloader, and gun seasons are lower than 2017. Nearly 16,000 deer were killed during the gun season opener which began Nov. 17.
“It’s kind of early to see what the overall gun total will produce,” Layton says. “We did have a good opener, but if you just look at our total gun harvest through this past weekend, we’re down roughly a couple hundred deer from 2017.”
Nearly 1,000 fewer deer were killed during archery season compared to last year, while just under 500 fewer deer were harvested with a muzzleloader.
Layton says opening weekend statistics for each season usually account for nearly 80 percent of the overall statistics for that hunting method’s season.
“Most of the time our hunters get excited about the rut and peak rut, generalized across the whole state, is probably around mid-November and we’re passed that,” Layton says. “I think we’re probably… kind of on the downward side for our hunting efforts in Tennessee.”
Despite the decrease in deer harvested, Layton says there are some positive statistics to take away from this year’s population.
“A lot of the deer that we’ve actually been able to collect information on appears that their weights are somewhat up,” Layton says. “Looks like we’re up five to 10 pounds on the deer, which is good showing that the deer are in real good condition compared to other years.”
Layton says the data compiled on the deer doesn’t mean their weights were bad in previous years, but shows an increase in the population’s health. Layton added no cases of Chronic Wasting Disease have been reported as of yet despite four of Tennessee’s eight bordering states reporting cases of the illness in their deer populations.
Deer season in the Upper Cumberland lasts through Jan. 6. Hunters are limited to one anterless and two antlered deer for the season. Multiple antlered deer may not be harvested in a single day.