The opening weekend harvest for archery deer on Sept. 24-25 was 1,794; this was 730 fewer deer than the first weekend last year, a big drop. In fact the opening weekend harvest has decreased by a few hundred every year for four years. Some people try to use this figure as a harbinger of the coming deer season. Is it?
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has stated that the annual deer harvest for Tennessee has stabilized in the 160,000 to 180,000 range and will not continue to increase. Here is a comparison of opening weekend harvests to the final season harvest for recent years:
2015-16 was 2,524 and 167,234
2014-15 was 2,764 and 162,570
2013-14 was 3,076 and 168,517
2012-13 was 1,146 and 176,102
Note that in the 2012-13 season the first weekend was by far the lowest in five years but the final harvest was the second highest on record. The myth is busted. Actually, the weather in September – heat or rain – has more influence on opening weekend, not to mention the home football schedule for the University of Tennessee. Most likely this year’s opening weekend was down because the weather was very hot and UT played at home.