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Overhunting deer in NJ? Poor regulations?


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So I was looking at the numbers and in the 2019 to 2020 season, hunters reported 45,650 deer harvested. NJ estimates the deer population to be around 125,000.

That means legal hunters took about 36 percent of the herd last year. This doesn't include vehicle accidents involving deer, poaching/failing to report, diseases like CWD, starvation or predators.

According to insurance company estimates in NJ, over 31,000 deer were hit by vehicles in NJ in the same year. Let's say for the sake of argument, half of those survived. That's another roughly 12 percent of the 125k estimate. Add up the two and that means, conservatively and not including poaching, about half the deer population was killed by humans.

So my question is this: With no end in sight in Nj with regards to overdevelopment and habitat destruction, is this deer management program by the state an effective one or is it a way to just severely reduce deer numbers to counteract habitat destruction so there are less deer in the streets and eating Mrs. Jones' azaleas? As the state becomes more congested and less supportive of herd regeneration, would the program need to change?

On a side note: I think being able to shoot 5 bucks and unlimited does every season is ridiculous, and the hunting season extending into February, when all the does are pregnant also does not seem to be in line with good management, imo. Add to that the "no antler restrictions" in many zones and I just don't see how this is all sustainable for the long term, but what do I know? What do you guys think?

Edited by HuntEmDown505
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Just from my own made up statistics:

125,000 x 60% (percentage of females) = 75,000

75,000 x 1.5 (avg birth rate per female) = 112,500

46,650 + 31,000 = 77,650 deaths

112,500 -77,650 = 34,850 additional deer before predation

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Yep unlimited has got to go.

Wait till this seasons report  comes out next year. The deer harvest will probably report a lot higher kill. Speaking to a couple of butchers they already surpassed last seasons numbers and gun season hasn't started yet.

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We aren’t a trophy state, and the deer in many areas are like rats. I think like you said the dwindling amount of available space to hunt is more to worry about. The amount of habitat descruction in this state is scary for all animals game and non game.

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I have been tracking the harvest numbers for years now - every year I add the previous year's harvest numbers to my spreadsheet (I also took the state's published numbers going back decades) . You can see it here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Y02dGYQ2kwoQ5pjVUAE_0cnpVNXbJ3zQoalwoJRnIes/edit#gid=923575028

Would your impressions change if you were aware that we are harvesting LESS dear now than we did in late 90's / early 00's?

We are actually harvesting about the same amount of deer as we were in the late 1980's.

Edited by mazzgolf
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1 hour ago, HuntEmDown505 said:

So I was looking at the numbers and in the 2019 to 2020 season, hunters reported 45,650 deer harvested. NJ estimates the deer population to be around 125,000.

That means legal hunters took about 36 percent of the herd last year. This doesn't include vehicle accidents involving deer, poaching/failing to report, diseases like CWD, starvation or predators.

According to insurance company estimates in NJ, over 31,000 deer were hit by vehicles in NJ in the same year. Let's say for the sake of argument, half of those survived. That's another roughly 12 percent of the 125k estimate. Add up the two and that means, conservatively and not including poaching, about half the deer population was killed by humans.

So my question is this: With no end in sight in Nj with regards to overdevelopment and habitat destruction, is this deer management program by the state an effective one or is it a way to just severely reduce deer numbers to counteract habitat destruction so there are less deer in the streets and eating Mrs. Jones' azaleas? As the state becomes more congested and less supportive of herd regeneration, would the program need to change?

On a side note: I think being able to shoot 5 bucks and unlimited does every season is ridiculous, and the hunting season extending into February, when all the does are pregnant also does not seem to be in line with good management, imo. Add to that the "no antler restrictions" in many zones and I just don't see how this is all sustainable for the long term, but what do I know? What do you guys think?

Why do you have a problem with hunting pregnant does? Is it a moral thing or you are thinking about numbers of deer killed?

Edited by Lunatic
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Many things could be handled better. However, where I hunt, does are unlimited, 6 bucks, but I don't see shortage of deer.
True I don't see too many mature bucks but thats one thing I would agree with you on, we kill too many bucks. If you add to buck harvest all BBs we kill under antlerless tags, then we kill more bucks than does. I would be happy with 2-3 bucks/ season. Also, high number of does will hide your bucks out of sight, very, very well

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It's actually sound management even though many here don't agree.  That said, we will see fewer deer next year.  As 3Blade said, butchers are being overwhelmed due to the increased participation this year due to Covid.  We are shooting more bucks and more does this year.  

The six buck thing is always brought up every year as if most hunters take six bucks each season.  I have yet to meet anyone that does that although I certainly know they exist.  The most bucks I've ever shot in NJ in one season was two, and I think I only did that a few times over many decades.  I also typically shoot a buck out of state and take a doe or two on a cull hunt on a golf course, so no need to shoot every spike that walks past.   

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In NJ everything is about money. 

NJ deer hunters spend over $100 million yearly. 

That's about $2,200 per harvested deer. 

It's over $6 million in sales tax.  

That's why they break so many seasons into zones and permits by zones. The State gets about $14 million from licenses and permits.  

Other States with strict limits don't have over population.  Some States I think maybe Ohio have a one deer limit. If you get a buck bow season you are done deer hunting for thst year.

 

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My butcher has been overwhelmed with deer so far this year. Is it because there are less butchers? Is it more harvest? The harvest for the last 20 years has been "stable" according to the State numbers. A few ups and downs but no sign of any decimation. 

Edited by archer36
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33 minutes ago, Lunatic said:

Why do you have a problem with hunting pregnant does? Is it a moral thing or you are thinking about numbers of deer killed?

Good question. For me, it's a combo of both, I guess. If I was in a position where I really needed the meat to survive, it is what it is. But if I have all season to kill unlimited does, I just don't see why I would kill 2-3 deer while taking a pregnant doe in February. So I guess it really is a moral thing.

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53 minutes ago, mazzgolf said:

I have been tracking the harvest numbers for years now - every year I add the previous year's harvest numbers to my spreadsheet (I also took the state's published numbers going back decades) . You can see it here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Y02dGYQ2kwoQ5pjVUAE_0cnpVNXbJ3zQoalwoJRnIes/edit#gid=923575028

Would your impressions change if you were aware that we are harvesting LESS dear now than we did in late 90's / early 00's?

We are actually harvesting about the same amount of deer as we were in the late 1980's.

Appreciate the info! I suppose the real question isn't the total number of deer, as the numbers have been around 36k to 52k for several years now, as far as I can tell. It's more the number of deer killed in relation to the swelling numbers of humans and habitat destruction in NJ for the long-term. Wondering if people other than myself think things may have to change regulation-wise in the near future as NJ continues to grow.

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4 minutes ago, HuntEmDown505 said:

Good question. For me, it's a combo of both, I guess. If I was in a position where I really needed the meat to survive, it is what it is. But if I have all season to kill unlimited does, I just don't see why I would kill 2-3 deer while taking a pregnant doe in February. So I guess it really is a moral thing.

You do realize that killing a doe in September has the same effect on deer population as killing her in February. There is no difference

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