From outdoor writer Mark Folco's Open Season column in our local paper...
" MassWildlife reported this week that the preliminary deer harvest total for 2013 was 11,413 animals (excluding the Quabbin hunt and any data not yet received). Although preliminary, this figure is up four percent from last year’s total harvest. The archery season harvest of 4,474 was up 15 percent from last year, the shotgun season harvest of 4,625 was down seven percent from last year, and the primitive season harvest of 2,314 is up 11 percent from last year.
Zone 11, which is mostly Southeastern Mass., had the highest total again this year with 2,662 deer taken. Of that total, 1,154 were taken during archery season, 990 were taken during shotgun season and 518 were taken during muzzleloader season. The shotgun and muzzleloader totals were also the highest in the state with the archery season harvest coming in second to Zone 10, which had 1,167 deer taken during that season.
MassWildlife reports that the preliminary harvest data for Zones 1-5 shows a decrease in female harvest and a corresponding increase in adult male harvest, indicating that deer densities in these zones are increasing toward management goals. Deer densities in Zones 6-9 appear to be within goals. Densities in Zones 10 and 11 are still above goal, but more towns are increasing access to lands for hunting, which is one of the most important parts of managing deer in a suburban setting. Deer densities on Martha’s Vineyard (Zone 13) and Nantucket (Zone 14) remain significantly above goals, but preliminary results from this year’s harvest show an increase in the female harvest that is critical to reduce deer densities.
Online reporting/game checking was available during deer season for the first time during the 2013 archery and primitive arms seasons (hunters must still report harvested deer at a check station during shotgun season to facilitate collection of biological data) and over 70 percent of the deer taken during those seasons were reported by hunters through the MassFishHunt system.
The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be released shortly after the review."