Wet Weather Puts A Damper On Deer Hunters

Wet Weather Puts A Damper On Deer Hunters And DNREC Biologists
New online/phone registration system shows decline in early season harvest numbers.

Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife

Delaware –-(AmmoLand.com)- A half hour after sunset this past Saturday marked the closure of the 2009-2010 October muzzleloader deer season. The seemingly never-ending nor’easter put a damper of the deer harvest this season. During the eight-day October muzzleloader season, hunters managed to harvest 1,423 deer; this was down 235 deer compared to the 2008-2009 muzzleloader season.

“Even though the harvest was slightly down this season compared to last year, I’m very excited to have this information so soon. Now that we have switched to an all electronic registration system via phone and internet, we are able to monitor the harvest throughout the season instead of waiting until May after we entered all of the harvest data into the computer,” said Joe Rogerson, Deer and Furbearer Biologist with the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Since the deer season opened on Sept. 1 (Aug. 15 for farms enrolled in the severe Deer Damage Assistance Program), 2,607 deer have been harvested. Compared to the 2008-2009 season, the harvest is down 19.9 percent. Due to the poor weather conditions during the muzzleloader season, 14 percent of the decline can be attributed to the muzzleloader season.

“We have several firearms seasons scattered throughout our five-month hunting season so that we are able to compensate for poor weather. The fewer deer taken during this season should mean that there are more deer available for hunters to harvest during the upcoming seasons,” said Rogerson.

Even through the wet weather, Division of Fish and Wildlife staff were collecting samples to test for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at several deer processors in each of the three counties.

“During the muzzleloader season we had staff stationed at five deer processors on each of the Fridays and Saturdays of the season (four days total). Even with the harvest being slightly down, we managed to collect more than 100 CWD samples. Our goal is 600 samples, 200 in each county, so we will be back out during the November shotgun season collecting our remaining samples,” said Rogerson.

CWD is a brain disease that deer and elk can contract. Once an animal contracts the disease, its chance of survival is zero percent. The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife has been sampling deer since 2002. Thus far nearly 3,000 samples have been collected and all have been negative.

“We hope that all of the samples we collect this year are negative, but by intensively monitoring the herd each year we hope to detect the disease early. That will give us the best chance at preventing its spread,” said Rogerson.

Hunters now required to register deer online or by phone

Hunters are reminded to register their deer by calling the new toll free phone line, 1-866-511-DEER (3337), or on the internet at www.dehip.com.

When registering deer, hunters will need to know their hunting license number and the deer management zone in which the deer was harvested. Zone information can be found on pages 19 to 22 in the 2009-2010 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide.

After registering, hunters receive a 6-digit registration number, which should be recorded and kept as proof of registration. If the deer will be processed by a butcher, you will need to supply them with this number when you drop off your animal.

For more information on the Automated Deer Checking System and a flow chart depicting the questions you will be asked to answer, please refer to pages 3 and 24 in the hunting guide.

For more information about the deer harvest, registration change, or any other deer related issue, please contact Wildlife Biologist Joe Rogerson at 302-735-3600.