From the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department
-- South Dakota hunters reported mixed results for the 2009 deer seasons, with weather and unharvested crops playing major roles.
Harvest surveys compiled by the Game, Fish and Parks Department show that 2009 was the first year the statewide deer harvest has fallen in the last ten years.
GFP Game Harvest Survey Coordinator Corey Huxoll said an estimated 69,000 white-tailed deer and 18,000 mule deer were harvested during the 2009 hunting seasons, for a total of more than 87,000 deer. That is a reduction of more than 4,000 deer from 2008, but still 41,000 more than the 46,000 deer harvested in 1999.
Reductions in the harvest of East River deer, muzzleloader deer, youth deer and Black Hills deer accounted for most of the decline, with an offsetting increase in the West River deer harvest. Both whitetail buck and doe harvest estimates declined from 2008 by 1,600 and 2,779 respectively. The mule deer buck harvest also decreased from 2008 by 624. However, the mule doe harvest increased by nearly 800. Mule deer accounted for about 20 percent of the total harvest.
The overall deer harvest success declined statewide from 48 percent in 2008 to 43 percent last year. Harvest success ranged from 23 percent at Sand Lake Refuge to 75 percent for West River Special Buck.
Information for surveys is collected in a random post season sampling of hunters, and Huxoll says the department thanks them for the important role they play in helping gather harvest information for all game species in the state.
“It is only through the cooperation of hunters completing harvest report cards that we are able to assess the success of the harvest for each of the deer seasons,” Huxoll said. “Hunter surveys are an efficient, scientifically sound and cost-effective method for assessing harvest mortality on wildlife populations that GFP is responsible for managing.”
The 2009 Big Game Harvest Projections Report can be accessed through the GFP website at http://gfp.sd.gov in the Hunting section under Harvest Reports, or it can be requested by mail or in person in printed form from the Game, Fish and Parks Commission, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD, 57501.