South Dakota 2008 Deer Harvest Sets Record

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South Dakota hunters can look back on 2008 as another record-setting year for deer harvest.

According to harvest surveys compiled by the Game, Fish and Parks Department, last year brought the highest-ever recorded deer harvest in the state. It was the ninth straight year that the deer harvest increased.

GFP Game Harvest Survey Coordinator Corey Huxoll said an estimated 74,000 white-tailed deer and 18,000 mule deer were harvested during the 2008 hunting seasons, or a total of more than 91,000 deer. That is an increase of more than 4,000 deer from 2007 and nearly double the 46,000 deer harvested in 1999.

Increases in harvest for Youth, West River Firearm and Muzzleloader seasons accounted for most of the increase, with a decline in Black Hills and East River Firearm deer seasons offsetting the effects of the first three. The buck harvest estimate remained similar to 2007, while the doe harvest increased by nearly 4,000 whitetails and mule deer. Mulies comprised about 20 percent of the total harvest.

Overall harvest success of 48 percent remained unchanged from 2007. The number of deer tags issued more than doubled from 88,000 in 1999 to 189,000 tags in 2008.

"We would like to thank hunters for the important role they play in helping the department gather harvest information for all game species in the state,"” Huxoll said. "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."

"Some states have mandatory check stations and hunters may have to drive 20 to 30 miles or more only to wait in line to have someone visually document their harvest. Hunter surveys are an efficient, scientifically sound and cost-effective method to assess harvest mortality on wildlife populations that we, as an agency, are responsible for managing," Huxoll said

The 2008 Big Game Harvest Projections Report is complete and can be accessed through the GFP Web site at in the "What's New" section, or it can be requested by mail or in person in printed form from 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, S.D. 57501.