An analysis of the 2011-12 managed deer hunts on wildlife management areas revealed that total harvests was down by approximately 700 deer when compared to the 2010-11 hunting seasons.

That represents a 23-percent decline.

Also, total hunter efforts in 2011-12 on state WMAs were also down by 3,300 efforts contrasted to the previous season – a decline of about 13 percent.

Scott Durham, state deer study leader, said he was concerned over the decline of deer harvests statewide – including those on Louisiana's public lands.

"We just received the 2011 managed-hunts deer harvest data on WMAs, and it shows that harvests were down overall," the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist said. "And this has occurred despite a huge season of success for hunters scoring on trophy bucks in 2011-12."

Click here to see statistics for each WMA tracked during the 2011-12 season.

Click here for a graph showing hunter effort and deer harvest statistics.

During the 2011-12, "doe days" were re-initiated in the Atchafalaya Basin (spillway) due to the impact of historic flooding in the Morganza Spillway. However, Durham said concerns that the flooding might have damaged deer populations seem to have been unnecessary.

"We were looking at possible changes prior to the flooding because the data demonstrated a decline in harvests, and hunters were not seeing as many deer as before," said Durham. "Browse did return to the area, and it came back pretty strong.

"We see no significant effects regarding habitat and mortality, and we are recommending a full season for Sherburne (WMA) next fall."

Durham said he remains optimistic for the 2012-13 WMA hunting seasons due chiefly to a huge mast crop experienced in most of Louisiana last fall and winter.

"It looks real good for deer next season," Durham said. "We had good recruitment of younger deer due to last season's mast crop, and the deer have plenty to eat into the spring.

"We'll need rain in the summer, though, and if this happens I expect fawns in numbers hitting the ground in July."

Durham was still awaiting the results of a district-by-district, statewide analysis of 2011-12 deer harvests on private lands; check back for that information, which will be posted as soon as possible.