Record number of deer taken in modern gun season this year

By Art Lander, Jr., Staff Writer at Kentucky Afield Magazine Published:

Hunters bagged a record number of deer during Kentucky’s modern gun season, which ended last Monday.

“The 92,737 deer reported taken is a new record, surpassing the previous record of 87,205 set in 2004,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “That’s what happens when you get good hunting weather all three weekends of the season. No rain, no snow. It’s the first time that’s happened since I came here in 2005.”

Kentucky’s deer herd is estimated to be more than 900,000. “In some areas, our deer herd could sustain a larger doe harvest than what our hunters take each year,” said Brunjes. “For example, in Zone 1 counties, we encourage hunters to continue to take antlerless deer during the rest of bow season, the late muzzleloader season and the free youth weekend.”

Monthly harvest totals have set records in two of the three months since deer season opened Sept. 1, with the beginning of archery hunting.

Hunters telechecked 5,577 deer in September. For the first time, the September deer harvest exceeded 5,000 and set a harvest record for the third consecutive year.

In October, the deer harvest was the highest total since the 2009-10 season, but 4,435 deer short of the record harvest of 19,900 for the month, set during the 2001-02 season.

The total harvest for the month of November won’t be known until the end of the month on Friday, Nov. 30. However, as of Wednesday, Nov. 28, a new record has already been reached. The 96,986 deer reported taken tops the previous record (89,498 deer taken in 2004) by 8.3 percent.

At this point in the season the top 10 Kentucky counties in deer harvest are: Owen, 3,444; Pendleton, 2,764; Crittenden, 2,750; Graves, 2,674; Christian, 2,450; Shelby, 2,252; Grant, 2,075; Hardin, 1,946; Boone, 1,915, and Breckinridge, 1,901.

Kentucky’s all-time record deer harvest of 124,752 may be eclipsed, too. “We have a really good chance if we get good weather for the late muzzleloader and free youth hunts (in December),” said Brunjes.

Last season, the combined harvest for the months of December and January was 15,617 deer.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 28, the total deer harvest for the season was 117,951, according to deer harvest results posted on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at

With hope, the weather and hunters will cooperate and make this deer season the best ever.

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  • While I have no idea how they come up with the herd size, I do know that typically, the more females you have in a population the larger the population will be. That is why you can take nearly as many does as you want (with proper tags of course) and only one antlered deer per year. The buck will typically breed many times with as many does as he can while a doe will only breed once a season.

  • That's the number REPORTED. That doesn't include poaching. How do they estimate a herd of 900,000? If only bucks are taken, how does that affect their ability to reproduce? I like to hunt as much as anyone, but I didn't know the figures were so large. Wow. That's almost 1/4 million. (it may be if you include poached deer and roadkill)