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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

2012 Annual Deer Hunt at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Region 5, December 21, 2012
A healthy white-tailed deer buck characteristic of the herd at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
A healthy white-tailed deer buck characteristic of the herd at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge just completed its annual deer hunt, a tradition enjoyed by many hunters dating back to the early 1970s. The hunt program was established by the Refuge in response to an overpopulated deer herd, which, at the time, was causing damage to the forest and showing signs of poor health. The first hunt took place in 1974 when close to 400 hunters harvested 127 deer from the Refuge’s population, estimated at more than 600 deer. Since then, hunters have enjoyed an annual deer hunt under varying harvest strategies and bag limits, all geared toward maintaining a healthy deer population in balance with the environment. This year the hunt took place in early November over a 4-day period. Despite having to cancel the first two days of the season for safety concerns due to Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed, hunters succeeded in harvesting a total of 16 deer. Fourteen males ranging in age from 0.5 to >3.5 years and two adult does comprised the harvest. All of the animals had healthy weights and showed no sign of disease. A one-day youth hunt also provided an opportunity for youth hunters to learn important skills from their mentors in a safe environment. Three youth hunters harvested two large bucks, providing memories for years to come.

Contact Info: Steve Henry, 973-425-1222 x-157, steven_s_henry@fws.gov