A record number of deer were harvested by Victorian hunters during the 2016 hunting season according to the Game Management Authority (GMA). GMA CEO Greg Hyams said the Estimate of deer harvest in Victoria 2016 report found that last year’s deer hunting season was the largest on record.“Surveys showed each licensed deer hunter hunted on approximately 6.6 days in 2016, or almost 208,000 hunter days in total, with an average seasonal harvest of around three deer, the highest ever recorded,” said Mr Hyams.
The most commonly harvested species was sambar deer with an estimated total harvest of 80,875, followed next by fallow, with an estimated 15,059.The total number of all species recreationally harvested was 97,776.
The numbers were sourced via a telephone survey asking more than 1600 licensed deer hunters questions about their hunting activities, such as how many deer they harvested, what hunting methods they had used, where they hunted, the number of days they hunted, and the species of deer harvested. The survey found stalking was the most preferred method and scent-trailing with hounds was the second most productive technique.
Mr Hyams said the increasing harvest is likely due to the increasing distribution and abundance of deer as well as greater numbers of deer hunters in Victoria. “Of the 51,000 licensed game hunters in Victoria, almost 35,500 or 70 per cent are endorsed to hunt deer,” he said. “There was a bias towards female deer being harvested which suggests that deer are becoming sought after for their table qualities.”
SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird said that hunters have always hunted females for meat and will continue to do so, despite a perception that hunters only target trophy deer. “Hunters tend to not target females in areas where access is difficult or restricted and the meat cannot be reasonably recovered. Improved access will encourage hunters to target females in those more remote areas as they would be able to utilise the meat,” he said.
The GMA, in conjunction with the 2016-2020 Sustainable Hunting Action Plan, says it will continue development of a state-wide deer management strategy. This includes the commercial processing of harvested deer, thereby allowing hunters to maximise the use of their animals and create jobs in regional Victoria.