North Carolina deer hunters had a slightly better year across the board during this past fall’s hunting season, with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reporting an 8-percent increase in the statewide harvest to 161,854 whitetails in 2017-18.

The harvest increased in every area of North Carolina with the exception of the northeastern corner of the state, which experienced a decrease of 3.9-percent over 2016-17 levels. The biggest increases were 13.3 percent in District 4, comprised of counties west of Cape Fear to the Sandhills and north to the outskirts of the Raleigh-Durham area.

The harvest was made up of 52.6-percent antlered bucks and 41.8 percent does. The remaining 5.6 percent were button bucks. 

As usual, Northampton and Halifax counties had the best total harvest among the state’s 100 counties, with Northampton at 4,120 and Halifx at 3,821. Anson County hunters took 3,692 fo third, followed by Randolpn with 3,670 and Wilkes with 3,438.

In terms of the number of antlered bucks killed per square mile, urban counties dominated the lists, with Mecklenburg first with 5.49 bucks killed per square mile and Forsyth second with 5.17. Two of Mecklenburg’s neighbors were in the top 10, Cabarrus fourth with 4.52 and Gaston fifth with 4.46. Wake Count was eighth with 4.01.

Jon Shaw, the Commission’s deer biologist, said the harvest over the past handful of years points a growing herd in the western third of the state and some declines in eastern counties.

“We primarily focus on long-term trends rather than annual variations to monitor the population, and (we) have observed increasing trends in deer harvest in western North Carolina, likely due to an emerging deer herd and improved deer habitat on private lands,” he said. “In some areas, we have relatively stable harvest trends, while in large portions of eastern North Carolina, we are observing declining trends in harvest and deer numbers.”

Hunters took 5,635 deer on the state’s game lands. 

Around 80 percent of the total statwide harvest was taken by hunters using guns. Hunters using blackpowder weapons accounted for 9.3 percent of the harvest; hunters using traditional archery equipment accounted for 6.7 percent, and hunters using crossbows accounted for 4.7 percent.

Top 10 Counties

Total Deer Harvest


  1. Northampton                    4,120

  2. Halifax                              3,821

  3. Anson                               3,692

  4. Randolph                          3,670

  5. Wilkes                              3,438

  6. Rockingham                     3,179

  7. Stokes                              3,052

  8. Bertie                               3,012

  9. Union                               2,862

  10. Montgomery                    2,736

Top 10 Counties

Antlered Bucks

per Square Mile

Bucks per

Countysquare mile

  1. Mecklenburg                        5.49

  2. Forsyth                               5.17

  3. Alleghany                            4.81

  4. Cabarrus                             4.52

  5. Gaston                                4.46

  6. Vance                                 4.15

  7. Ashe                                   4.14

  8. Wake                                  4.01

  9. Northampton                       3.95

  10. Guilford                               3.80