Almost 17,000 deer were taken by hunters during the 2022-23 season, with more than half the total taken in Sussex County.
The 16,848 harvest number represents an increase of 9.5% over last year’s harvest total and ranks as the third highest harvest in the state’s history, behind the record-setting 2020-21 season when 17,265 deer were taken.
The 2022-23 season also marks the tenth year in a row the state’s deer harvest has exceeded 14,000 deer, with 1,704 (10% of the season total) harvested through the state’s deer damage assistance programs designed to help farmers who are experiencing crop damage. Sussex County had the highest harvest with 8,986 deer, followed by Kent County with 5,235, and New Castle County with 2,627.
During the 2022-23 season, hunters harvested more does than bucks, with 58.1% (9,789) does and 41.9% (7,059) bucks. The doe harvest was a new record, eclipsing a previous high set during the 2004-05 season.
Antlerless deer – does, juvenile bucks without antlers known as button bucks, antlered bucks with antlers measuring less than three inches, and bucks that had already shed both of their antlers when harvested – represented 74.1% of the total harvest.
Antlered deer – bucks with an antler at least 3 inches in length – represented 25.9% of the harvest.
The November general firearm season yielded 6,995 deer or 41.5% of the harvest. The highest Wildlife Management Zone harvest was from Zone 11 in Sussex County, an area bordered by Routes 113 and 13 to the east and west, and Routes 16 and 9 to the north and south. The preferred method of take for hunters was by shotgun, accounting for 35% of the deer harvest.
Over the coming weeks, wildlife biologists will continue analyzing the harvest data with more results to be made available at that time.