Evan Stanford, the big-game project manager for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said the harvest is an increase of 2.5 percent over the record 2007-08 harvest, spurred on, apparently, by big increases in the harvest in Roanoke River watershed and in the statewide doe harvest.
The increases were not unexpected, Stanford said.
"Our harvest is creeping up," he said, "but it's nothing remarkable. In some districts, the harvest was up quite a bit; in others, it was down a little. The doe harvest is picking up over time as far as the percentage of the total harvest. It was 39 percent in 2006, and it was 44 percent in 2008. The bonus antlerless tags could have had something to do with it. We issued 20,870 of them, which could have meant potentially another 21,740 does taken."
The big increase in harvest was in District 3, the "peanut belt" area west of the northern coastal plane but east of the piedmont. Halifax, Northampton and Bertie counties ranked 1-2-3 in total harvest, and Franklin and Edgecombe counties ranked sixth and 10th. District 3 had the highest overall harvest – 34,411 deer – and the largest increase, 10.9 percent.
"That's kind of hard to explain," Stanford admitted.
The harvest in the coastal plan was up slightly less than six percent, but with the exception of northwest North Carolina, the harvest was down in most areas. The harvest in the 11 counties that make up District 7 in the northwestern corner of the state was up 2.3 percent.
Four percent of the total harvest came from public lands. Bowhunters accounted for seven percent and blackpowder weapons accounted for eight percent of the total harvest.
The harvest in Halifax and Northampton counties topped the 6,000-mark (6,276 and 6,212, respectively), three more counties racked up harvests over 4,000 (Bertie at 5,777, Pender at 4,152 and Wilkes at 4,135), and 10 other counties had harvests of better than 3,000 deer.
In terms of harvest by area, hunters in tiny Alleghany County in the northwestern corner of the state took the most antlered bucks (7.03 per square mile), followed by Northampton (5.82), Halifax (4.91), Franklin (4.79) and Hertford (4.21).