Great buck taken on a Georgia public land muzzleloader hunt.

If you’ve ever wondered how many deer do hunters kill in your state or how your state’s deer harvest compares to other states around you, then this article is for you! 

We focus on the nine southern states that Get Outdoors South traditionally covers: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Sorry Texas! 

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For each state, we dig deep into each state’s data to share things like number of hunters, total deer harvest, buck harvest by age class, deer harvest by weapon type and more.

A Note About the Data

Before you start emailing or messaging me about how the data is wrong or that I’m full of crap, let me explain where this data comes from. 

Each year the National Deer Association sends out a survey to all the state wildlife agencies collecting data from their previous deer season. They then compile this data into their annual Deer Report, which is a great (and free) resource for deer nerds like myself.

Download your own copy of NDA’s 2023 Deer Report.

The data provided in the tables and graphs below come directly from that report, and is based on each state’s 2021-2022 deer season.

Whether or not you believe the data provided by your state’s wildlife agency is up to you, but that’s where the numbers come from. 

For those of you who wonder how they get this data when you aren’t required to physically check the deer in, it’s from sources such as post-season phone surveys, deer processor checks, WMA harvest data, DMAP data, among others. 

When I worked for the Georgia DNR, I had specific counties for which I had to visit deer processors to collect data from the deer they had in their coolers – sex of the deer, age, and some antler measurements on bucks.

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The hunters who shot those deer never knew the data was being collected. But that’s how they get some of the figures like the age class of bucks harvested.

Now, having said all that, let’s dive into the data.

Total Deer Harvest

Graph of total deer harvest numbers for southeastern states.

The South’s long deer seasons and generous bag limits result in lots of deer being harvested annually! For the nine southern states covered in this article, Alabama leads the pack for total harvest at just over 300,000 deer. That’s a lot of venison!

Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana finish out the top four, each with a harvest exceeding 200,000. 

North Carolina, Arkansas and South Carolina all killed over 150,000 deer for the 2021-2022 season, and Tennessee and Florida round out the list at 132,314 and 74,071 respectively. 

Deer Harvest by State (2021-2022)

StateAntlered Buck HarvestAntlerless HarvestTotal Harvest
North Carolina89,24679,181168,427
South Carolina95,35187,529182,880

Deer Harvest by Weapon Type

Graph highlighting what percentage of the deer harvest can be contributed to bows, muzzleloaders, and rifles.

Southern states tend to have long, generous firearms deer seasons, so the vast majority of deer killed in the south are done so with a rifle. Bows and crossbows (which are not separated out in this data) comprise anywhere from 8 to 22 percent of the harvest, and muzzleloaders range from 2 to 21 percent. 

Deer Harvest by Weapon Type (2021-2022)

North Carolina141076
South Carolina8290

Total Deer Hunters

Graph showing the total number of deer hunters for each southern state, broken down by weapon type.

Lots of deer get shot in the South because there are lots of deer hunters who hit the woods each fall! And the data provided by the Deer Report is pretty eye opening in this regard.

I would have never guessed Arkansas to lead the pack of southern states in number of deer hunters, but they do at 300,000!

North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana all have over 200,000 deer hunters.

And the remaining four states range anywhere from just 106,926 deer hunters in Florida to 195,380 in Mississippi.

In addition to the total number of deer hunters for each state, we have also broken down those numbers by weapon type.

You’ll quickly notice that adding bow, muzzleloader and firearm deer hunters for each state yields a number much higher than the listed Total. That’s because many hunters (myself included) hunt with more than one weapon type during the course of a deer season.  

Deer Hunters by Weapon Type

North CarolinaUnknownUnknownUnknown241,619
South Carolina37,96211,247129,591129,591

Age of the Buck Harvest

Graph of the antlered buck harvest by age class in nine southern states.

This data never ceases to amaze me. When it comes to harvesting fewer yearling bucks and more 3.5+ year olds, the South is king! Much of that is due to long-standing antler restrictions in many southern states.

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A quick look at the data shows that for most states in our report, less than 15% of the antlered bucks harvested each year are 1.5 years old, and in several cases over 60% of the antlered buck harvest is 3.5 years old or older.

Mississippi posts some incredible numbers, with 79% of their buck harvest being at least 3.5 years old! 

% of Antlered Buck Harvest by Age Class

State1.5 Years Old2.5 Years Old3.5+ Years Old
North Carolina323929
South CarolinaUnknownUnknownUnknown

Private Land vs Public Land Deer Harvest

Graph of deer harvests in southeast states on private vs public land.

And we’ll finish out our deer data with a look at the percentage of deer harvested on private vs public land for each state. Aside from Florida, where 24% of their deer harvest is on public land, the results were pretty consistent.

Most southern states harvest around 95% of their deer on private land vs 5% on public. 

Not real surprising. 

I’m betting if you looked at private vs public acreage for each state, you would probably see similar results. 

% of Harvest on Private vs Public Land

State% Private% Public%Unknown
North Carolina9730
South Carolina9442

Final Thoughts

I hope you guys enjoyed this type of information for our southern states! If you have questions about the data, or would like to see other data covered in future articles, don’t hesitate to reach out through our contact page or by emailing me directly. 

If you do enjoy this type of content, be sure to subscribe to our email list using the box below, so you can keep up with all our great content. 

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