It’s hard to believe it’s finally here, especially with all the anticipation that has been building for our whitetail deer hunting season here in Massachusetts. Come October 18, bow season is going to kick off the two-month deer season that includes bow hunting until November 27, followed by a shotgun season from Nov. 29 until December 17 and a muzzleloading season from Dec. 19 until Dec. 30.

Thanks to the past few winters falling into the “relatively mild” category, a healthy deer herd of 80,000 to 90,000 animals is reason enough to expect that this year’s harvest could climb to a potential record of 13,000. The current record is 12,264 deer and it was set in 2002.

The numbers alone are enough to be excited over, which is why we have been looking forward to getting out and set up our hunting tree stand and get our whitetail deer hunting season started.

If there is anything that could hamper our attempts at a record could be the massive amounts of feed that is available to our deer this year. Acorns are everywhere in the woods this season, which means that the deer won’t feel the need to do much traveling to find something to eat. That means if you haven’t been out doing plenty of scouting, then you may not have the success you would have had if you been doing so. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of deer, and still plenty of movement when the rut starts, so just be patient.

It’s almost hard to believe that we have two months of hunting when it wasn’t that long ago that there were only six days of shotgun hunting even allowed in Massachusetts. Of course, that was back when the herd size was much smaller, and deer were only being taken at a rate of about 2,000 a year in the 1950s and 1960s. The low point in deer hunting was in 1967, when 1,193 kills were recorded, followed by 1,427 the next season.

The growth of the herd has required much better management, hence the increased whitetail deer hunting season. In 2002, the record was set for the full season with 12,264 deer taken. In 2004, that record was nearly topped with 12,099 deer harvested.

The success of the 10 weeks of combined hunting has managed to keep many Massachusetts hunters in state instead of heading to surrounding Northeast states to do their hunting. In fact, it has even drawn hunters from surrounding states here to do much of their hunting.

Bow season is the time to come for hunting, too. Deer kills have steadily increased during bow and muzzleloader season thanks to increased ability of the hunters wielding those weapons as well as dramatic increase in capabilities of the gear itself. But, then again, why not hunt during bow season? The largest bucks, according to state numbers, are taken during bow season and during the rut.

Bow hunters took only 18 deer in 1966. The total went over 1,000 in 1990 and over 2,000 in 1999, when 2,469 deer were killed. The 3,000 total was reached in 2003, when a record 3,045 animals were shot by arrow. In 2006 the total was 3,016.

So go out there and do your part in helping hunters set a new harvest record. The deer herd needs to be slimmed, and hunters are the best way to do that. Besides, it’s not like the end result isn’t a tasty one for the hunter, right?

Enjoy the bow season here in Massachusetts and we wish you a successful hunt. And, as always, we here at Northeast Hunting remind you to make safety your first priority.

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