Just released, 2019 vs. 2018: Total buck kill down 28.6%, total harvest down 24.9%. Northern Forest region was the worst: buck kill down 39.5%, total harvest down 38.2%.
Post opening weekend quote: "In 2018, we held the earliest possible deer season followed by the latest possible season in 2019. This occurred between the 2012-13 and 2007-08 seasons as well, and we saw similar declines in opening weekend registration totals," said DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang.
2012 antlered harvest: 119,469
2013 antlered harvest: 102,221, drop of 14.5%
2007 antlered harvest: 133,107
2008 antlered harvest: 103,845, drop of 22%
Yes, there were decreases if you only look at the variable as stated by DNR above. Total harvest of 75,236 bucks in 2019 tells another story. Even in the worst years, the total buck kill was down 25% on top of the decrease "due to a late start to the season." The buck kill was down 19% from the lowest buck kill numbers in the last 13 years. We are on a continued and readily apparent trend downward.
As I posted in another thread, pick the year and you get the same excuses from DNR: standing crops, no snow, late start date to season, and the best of all "lack of hunter effort."
Most of us had record snowfalls late in the season which has never been seen before. The Winter Severity Index does not properly account for deep snow or extreme cold. -1 degree counts the same as -30 degrees, and 18" of snow counts the same as 40" of snow according to their system. I feel a lot of deer died last winter/spring, but we were told we had a record population and a moderate winter even though hundreds of barn roofs collapsed from all the snow.
Since we as hunters failed, and did not do our part to reduce this out of control population as DNR has told us about, I suspect DNR will offer more doe tags, more seasons, more weapons, and longer seasons since we all obviously are failing at hunting.
I am guessing the number of licenses sold next year will drop even faster with the winter we are already having.