By Mark Kenyon

According to the QDMA’s 2013 Whitetail Report, in the most recent data (2011) harvest of yearling bucks on average was about 39% of the total. What’s amazing is how different this situation was just 22 years ago. In 1989, that number was 61%!

Can you believe that? Essentially at the beginning of the 90’s 2/3 of all bucks killed were yearlings. Now just two decades later, that number has nearly dropped by a third. And now almost 2/3 of bucks harvested are NOT yearlings.

This focus on preserving yearling bucks is even more pronounced in some states as Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Nebraska all had yearling harvest rates at less than 25%. On the other hand, there are also some states that are still lagging far behind the rest of the country. For example, my home state of Michigan somehow is still killing enough yearling bucks that they comprise 59% of all bucks harvested. Luckily though, we’re somewhat of an anomaly.

So what does this all mean? It means that on average, hunters have been passing up yearling bucks at a much greater rate than ever before. The result? Healthier herds and happier hunters. “Big bucks” are being seen more often, more mature bucks are being harvested than ever, and more Boone & Crockett caliber bucks are being killed as well. For example, the number of Boone & Crockett bucks killed during the 5 year period between 2005-2010 is 400% higher than a similar 5 year period twenty years earlier.  400%!

That said, if you’re one of those folks out there who would like to see or kill more big bucks, consider this one important step. Pass on yearlings. If you can do that, as the average hunter in America has begun doing at a much higher rate, you will begin to put yourself in a better situation to see a similar rise of big buck sightings and kills.

To see more information from the QDMA’s 2013 Whitetail Report, click this link.