Preliminary All Season Deer Numbers

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Licensed Massachusetts deer hunters enjoyed their most productive season on record, bagging 12,196 white-tails during the 2002 regulated seasons according to preliminary figures released by MassWildlife.

The muzzleloader season, where only single-shot, blackpowder firearms are lawful, closed one-half hour after sunset on December 31, 2002. A total of 1,338 deer were taken by muzzleloader enthusiasts. Regionally, 210 deer were checked in MassWildlife?s Western District, 282 in the Valley District, 347 in Central District, 201 in the Northeast District and 298 in the Southeast District.

Additional preliminary figures include 2,651 deer taken in the archery season, 8,199 in the shotgun season and 8 during the special deer season MassWildlife holds for paraplegic sportsmen. The all season preliminary total of 12,196 is well ahead of the previous all season record of 11,059 set in 1995.

According to MassWildlife Deer Project Leader Bill Woytek, "It looks like a record breaking year for the shotgun and muzzleloader seasons as well as the total combined kill. This is good news for the licensed deer hunter as more than 600,000 pounds of lean, fresh venison is coming home to the freezer, not to mention the recreation benefits and memories the days afield this season have provided. It's also good news for the deer herd and the public in general as removing a significant number of deer from the population will help keep the herd healthy and in balance with available habitat. By keeping deer numbers at levels that don?t damage habitat we'll maintain or enhance wildlife diversity while minimizing the conflicts deer cause through browsing damage and vehicle collisions. It's a classic win, win situation."

Final figures and analysis are expected in April.