Promising deer season forecast for area

Published 7:55 am Friday, November 5, 2010

FRANKLIN—Earlier this fall, Jimmy Anderson wounded a nice 12-point with his bow.

Dustin Heard, 12, of Suffolk set a new state record for youth with this 15-point whitetail he harvested in Southampton County in 2009. -- SUBMITTED

Word is the deer is still around.

Anderson hopes to get a second chance at it when the gun season opens on Nov. 13 in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

“If I don’t, someone will,” he said.

The owner of Moonlight Taxidermy outside Franklin, Anderson believes hunters can expect a good gun season, which runs through Jan. 1.

“I think we’re going to have some pretty big kills,” he said. “Last year, it was wet, and it was tough on the dog hunting. I think this year, we will see bigger deer.”

A biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries agrees.

“I don’t expect the cold, harsh winter will impact the herd,” said Aaron Proctor, a wildlife biologist with VDGIF’s Southeast District in Chesapeake. “In the Tidewater region, the deer population is about as big as it needs to be.”

In 2009, 6,273 deer were harvested in Southampton County, according to VDGIF data. That was the second highest number in the state. One year earlier, 7,140 deer were taken, giving the county the fourth top harvest.

For 2009, 2,325 deer were taken in Isle of Wight County compared to 2,627 one year earlier.

During the past deer season 256,512 deer were reported killed by hunters in Virginia. This total included 108,443 antlered bucks, 23,592 button bucks and 124,477 does. The fall 2008 deer kill was 256,382 deer. It was 14 percent higher than the10-year average of 225,550.

Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 16,947 deer. The bow kill comprised 7 percent of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 55,900 deer. Muzzle loading comprised 22 percent of the total deer kill.

A major snowfall in December may have been the reason for the last year’s lower deer kill in some counties, including Southampton.

“That’s the kind of thing that keeps hunters out of the woods, which can affect the harvest,” said Julia Dixon, spokeswoman for VGDIF in Richmond.

As for the deer herd in Southampton County, it’s stable and needs to be decreased, Proctor said.

That’s based on crop damage reported by farmers and motorist collisions with deer.

The hunting pressure in Isle of Wight isn’t as great as in Southampton County because it’s not as big and is somewhat less rural, Proctor said.

“The population objectives for Isle of Wight County are to stabilize the deer herd,” Proctor said. “We do not want it to increase.”

During the upcoming season, hunters in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties can take two deer a day, but no more than six for the season. Of the six, no more than three may be bucks and at least three must be does.


Proctor also warned hunters to be on the lookout for deer with Hemorrhagic Disease or Blue Tongue. Deer get it from a small fly-type insect.

“We think the herd in the southeast (Virginia) is primed for an outbreak,” he said.

Due to the very warm June and July, deer gathered around water, which is where the flies bite and infect them.

“We will see deer looking sick,” Proctor said. “It usually starts with calls, which have ramped up this fall.”

Deer will have sores in their mouths and on their tongues, and will look emaciated.

“If you kill a deer and its hooves have interrupted growth, they probably had HD, but survived,” he said. “The good news is HD cannot be contracted by humans from eating or touching. But I wouldn’t eat one.”