Firearms hunting often is limited as a deer (Odocoileus spp.) management tool in urban and suburban areas due to firearms discharge ordinances, restrictive hunting laws, or public perception about firearms safety. Many states use bowhunters to manage overabundant deer populations in urban-suburban areas. Little information exists on the effectiveness of bowhunting as a deer management tool in developed areas. Our objectives were to evaluate the potential for bowhunting to manage deer populations in urban-suburban areas and identify important variables influencing hunt effectiveness. We estimated deer population size and herd composition using aerial deer surveys and spotlight counts. Nonhunting mortality was determined from radiotelemetry data. We mailed a 9-page survey to bowhunters who hunted in a residential community with high deer densities to determine harvest rates, hunter success rates, willingness to harvest additional antlerless deer, and interest in employing aggressive deer management strategies. Of 159 surveys mailed, 71% were completed and returned. We conducted model simulations using Program STELLA® (High Performance Systems Inc., Lebanon, N.H.) to determine which management strategies would contribute most to stabilizing deer population growth. Sunday hunting provided 41% fewer hunting days, yet was more effective at reducing deer population growth than a January extension. Harvesting antlerless deer that hunters were passing up had the greatest relative effect in reducing deer population size. Incentive programs for hunters to harvest antlerless deer are needed. Combining multiple hunt strategies (i.e., January and Sunday hunting) may be more effective than implementing individual hunt strategies. A special crossbow season outside the existing archery season may be an effective deer management tool in urban areas.
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