During the 2019–20 deer hunting season that ended January 4th, hunters harvested 206,976 deer in Virginia, up about 9% from the 190,636 deer taken during the same time frame the previous season. This year’s total included 99,994 antlered bucks, 901 bucks that had shed their antlers, 13,820 button bucks, and 92,261 does (45%).
The youth and apprentice deer hunting weekend resulted in a harvest of 2,067 deer. The archery season harvest was 30,185 deer or 15% of the total. Muzzleloading deer hunters took 54,112 deer or 26%. Firearms deer season (rifles, shotguns, and pistols) resulted in a deer harvest of 122,570 deer or 59% of the total. Approximately 178,670 deer (86%) were checked using the Department’s electronic checking system (telephone, online, and app) through the Go Outdoors Virginia portal.
According to Deer Project Leader Matt Knox, the majority of the increase in the fall 2019 deer harvest can be attributed to regulation changes designed to harvest more antlerless deer. These changes did significantly increase the number of antlerless deer taken by more than 10,000 animals from fall 2018 to fall 2019. In addition, weather was favorable during prime hunting periods this past fall compared to the previous year, and acorn crops were poor or spotty in many areas, likely making deer more visible to hunters as they moved widely in search of food.
Annual deer harvest totals by county dating back to 1947, including the county specific 2019 deer harvest totals, can be found at on the DGIF website.
Data presented in this summary are preliminary and do not include deer taken during the late urban archery or special late antlerless-only deer seasons. Data also do not include deer taken on out-of-season deer kill permits or those deer hit and killed by vehicles. Persons interested in more information on Virginia’s deer management program can find the Department’s deer management plan.