The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) reported that the preliminary statewide deer harvest for 2015 (excluding Quabbin and any data not yet received) was 10,042, a considerable drop over the 11,165 reported the previous year.
On Martha’s Vineyard, hunters fared slightly better, and took a total of 607 deer in 2015, a slight increase over the 594 animals hunters reported in 2014, but not close to the 792 animals taken in 2011. Only the shotgun season saw a dip in harvest numbers.
By season, Island hunters took 207 deer during the six-week archery season (versus 198 in 2014), 316 deer in the two-week shotgun season (versus 337 in 2014), and 84 deer (versus 59) over the two-week muzzleloader season.
The above-average temperatures during most of the deer season, as well as above-average food availability, likely played a role in low harvests, MassWildlife said in a report. When food resources are abundant, deer do not have to move as far or as often. Also, deer have thick winter coats during the fall and winter, so during warm weather, they tend to limit their daytime movement. A more thorough look at the data over the next few months, along with hunter survey data will provide more details, MassWildlife said.
MassWildlife advised hunters to keep an eye on their email inbox for the division’s annual hunter survey: “The survey is designed to understand hunter effort and preferences and to collect important local on-the-ground information that will help manage game in the commonwealth.”