By Louie Stout
There is no doubt about it; fewer Hoosier deer were killed in northern Indiana during last fall’s hunt than the year before.
Indiana DNR statistics bear that out.
The 2016 fall harvest stats, based on hunter reports of deer killed, show a slightly diminishing harvest from 2015 to 2016 in St. Joseph, Elkhart, Kosciusko LaPorte and Marshall counties.
Each county was different. In St. Joseph, 57 fewer were killed - 47 fewer does and 10 fewer bucks. Other county breakdowns, with does/bucks in parenthesis, are: Elkhart, -14 (-71/+57); LaPorte -4 (+66/-70); Marshall -92 (-113/+21); and Kosciusko (-41 (-87/+56).
Statewide, the harvest was down 4 percent overall with the buck harvest up 1 percent while the antlerless deer harvest dropped 8 percent.
Despite the drop, the statewide buck harvest ranks fifth all-time while the antlerless harvest ranks 14th.
The Jones family killed these two quality bucks from same spot over 24-hour period.
Deer season may be over, but the stories keep coming, like the one shared with me last week by a LaPorte County hunter.
While several Hoosiers lamented they didn’t see many bucks last fall, that wasn’t the case for Dave Jones.
He and his 78-year-old father, Gene, hunt an 88-acre parcel in southern LaPorte County. It’s kind of an island of habitat surrounded by farm fields. It generally attracts a few deer but not many quality bucks.
Until this year.
Gene, who is retired, hunted there throughout the bow season. Dave, an attorney, works a lot so his hunting time was limited to opening day of gun season.
“Dad saw some deer during bow season but nothing like what we encounter in one weekend,” explained Dave.
By Louie Stout
Does Indiana produce more trophy bucks than Michigan?
Sounds farfetched, I know. Michigan is supposed to be one of the country’s top deer hunting states and little ol’ Indiana, with its vast, fence-row to fence-row plowing seems hardly a deer hunting mecca.
But North Liberty deer scorer John Bogucki says Hoosierland kicks out more trophy bucks than our northern neighbor.
He should know. He is an official scorer for the Hoosier Record Buck Program, Commemorative Bucks of Michigan, Pope and Young, The Longhunter (muzzleloader record book) and Boone and Crockett.
In addition, Bogucki is the record keeper of the Hoosier record book and tracks all the stats of top deer harvested in the state over the years.
And while he doesn’t maintain the records for Michigan’s program, he is an official scorer and studies their record book annually. He knows what’s being killed north of the border.