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Indiana hunters shatter previous deer harvest record

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

-- Indiana deer hunters had unprecedented success during the 2009 seasons, shattering the previous state record by taking more than 130,000 deer for the first time in the 59-year history of the modern era.

Reports submitted from 453 check stations across Indiana placed the 2009 total at 132,752 deer – more than 3,000, or 2 percent, above the 2008 harvest of 129,748, which was the previous record.

“It’s kind of predictable,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer management biologist. “We’re going to have a record or near-record harvest every year unless things change. “For a couple of years now we’ve had increased license sales. We’ve also had high unemployment. Maybe people have more time to be out. I wish I could say.”

One thing Stewart is sure of is there were no reports of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in 2009 after outbreaks the previous three years. EHD is an insect-borne virus that affects white-tailed deer. It is transmitted by biting insects called midges. EHD is not transmitted to humans and is not normally found in domestic animals.

“That means going into the season there were more deer on the ground available to hunters rather than disease getting them first,” Stewart said.

The full season report can be viewed at

The 2009 total was bolstered by a record 79,771 antlerless deer, 60 percent of the harvest.

The hunting season began in urban deer zones on Sept. 15, followed by a two-day youth only weekend Sept. 26-27, and the early archery Oct. 1-Nov. 29, firearms Nov. 14-29, muzzleloader Dec. 5-20and late archery Dec. 5 to Jan. 3 segments.

Antlered bucks made up 40 percent of the total, of which 64 percent were 2.5 years old or older.

Hunters found the most success in the northeast corner of the state, where Steuben, Kosciusko and Noble counties ranked first, second and fourth, respectively.

Steuben hunters bagged 4,102 deer to mark the fifth straight year that county has led the state. It also was the first time any county topped the 4,000 mark in a single year. Kosciusko recorded 3,652 deer, followed by Switzerland with 3,223, Noble with 3,086 and Franklin with 3,063.

Modern-era records were set in 33 counties, and another 22 counties showed harvest increases from the 2008 season. Harvest totals declined in 36 counties compared to 2008.

Compiling the data is a lengthy process that begins in October when check stations are supplied envelopes for returning pink carbon copies of hunter-reported deer. Some stations submit reports on a weekly basis as requested; a few wait until the end of the season to return the information at one time.

DNR staff members in the Bloomington field office enter the early data, but the volume increases dramatically once the firearms season begins and additional staff from other locations is called upon to assist in entering everything from tag numbers assigned to reported deer to the sex and age of the deer, equipment used by the hunter, and the county where the deer was taken.

The information is merged into one data base in early to mid-February. The pink carbon copies are sorted by county and stored in Bloomington for three years. The data base is then checked for accurate spelling and to ensure there are no duplicate tag entries.

“That’s when my work really begins,” Stewart said. “It takes a couple of weeks to analyze the information and prepare the final report.”

The 2009 season also gave the DNR an opportunity to continue its ongoing surveillance for signs of chronic wasting disease in deer. Testing failed to detect CWD in tissue samples collected from 835 deer and has not been found in more than 11,000 specimens tested since 2002. CWD is a brain-wasting disease fatal to deer. It has been reported in deer in Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia and several other states.

The DNR also began surveillance for bovine tuberculosis by collecting tissue samples from 431 hunter harvested deer from Franklin, Harrison and Wayne counties. The DNR is awaiting results of testing on those samples from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

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