Which States Allow Bucks to be Taken With Crop Depredation Tags?

June 14, 2023 By: NDA Staff
crop depredation

It is a deer hunter’s nightmare – you heard through the grapevine the buck you have been watching all summer was killed by a local farmer, orchardist or gardener using a crop depredation tag. To determine where this potentially occurs, we surveyed state and provincial wildlife agencies for our 2023 Deer Report and asked whether their jurisdiction allowed antlered bucks to be harvested on damage or depredation tags. State-by-state results are presented below in tables by region.

We also asked if any antlered buck at any time could be killed on damage/depredation tags, or if it was only for special circumstances such as rub damage. This information is also included in the tables below. Most of the states that allow antlered bucks to be taken on damage/depredation tags (22 of 34, 65%) only allow it under special circumstances compared to the 12 of 34 (35%) that allow any bucks to be taken at any time with the tags. These special circumstances are mostly due to rub damage, threats to human health and safety, and browse damage.

Additionally, we compared those statistics to data from 2011. Of the 47 states that responded to our new survey, 34 (72%) allow antlered bucks to be harvested on damage/depredation tags today compared to 14 of 18 (78%) in 2011. 

Two states (Iowa and Maryland) where antlered bucks were allowed on damage/depredation tags in 2011 said they did not allow it in 2022. Three other states (Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Vermont) did not allow this option in 2011 but offer it today. In Canada, Ontario is the only province to allow antlered bucks to be harvested on damage/depredation tags.

Below, by region, are the responses to our survey indicating whether antlered bucks are allowed to be taken with crop depredation permits.

Southeastern States

StateBucks?Special Requirements / Comments
Buck-specific damage outside of regular hunting seasons, human safety hazard.
ArkansasYesRub damage, airports, public safety, urban deer hunts.
FloridaYesAny buck, any time.
GeorgiaYesRubbing trees or only when bucks are specifically causing damage.
LouisianaYesUnbranched antlered bucks.
North CarolinaYesAny buck, any time.
OklahomaYesVery rare to issue permits allowing antlered harvest. Tree farms/orchards where antlers are causing rub damage, etc.
South CarolinaYesDamage via antler rubbing in nurseries, orchards, etc.
TennesseeYesAny buck, any time.
TexasYesAny buck, any time.

Northeastern States

StateBucks?Special Requirements / Comments
ConnecticutYesAny buck, any time.
MassachusettsYesSpecial circumstances only.
New HampshireYesAny buck, any time.
New JerseyYesAny buck, any time.
New YorkYesRelated to rub damage, threats to public safety, municipal culls, browse damage to unique natural areas.
PennsylvaniaYesAgricultural damage only to protect property. State law, outside of wildlife agency’s control.
Rhode IslandYesAny buck, any time.
VermontYesAny buck, any time.
VirginiaYesAntlered bucks are not normally taken on agricultural damage but are routinely taken on rubbing damage and/or urban kill permits. The antlers are cut off and given to the wildlife agency.
West VirginiaYesAny buck, any time.

Midwestern States

StateBucks?Special Requirements / Comments
IllinoisYesAny buck, any time.
IndianaYesAny buck, any time.
IowaYesRelated to several set conditions.
KentuckyYesIf in-season tags are not enough to mitigate damage, out-of-season any-sex permits may be issued. There are no special circumstances once those are distributed.
MichiganYesMost damage permits issued are for antlerless deer only. Regional supervisors can approve antlered deer under unique circumstances. Rubbing is the primary reason. While other scenarios may exist (i.e. many bucks causing browse damage), they are infrequent.
MinnesotaYesTwo types. 1.) Deer shooting permits – which allow for the taking of antlered deer but permitees are not allowed to keep the head and deer must be in the act of depredation. 2.) Depredation Deer Antlerless Permits – For producers with a history of chronic issues, only antlerless deer may be taken under these permits and only during open hunting seasons. Both options require a hunt plan that emphasizes and requires harvest of antlerless deer to remain eligible for these permits.
MissouriYesBucks must be specifically authorized by a Conservation Agent.
NebraskaYesWhen agency allows bucks to be included on the permit. Some are any deer, some are antlerless only.
North DakotaNo
OhioYesRub damage.
South DakotaYesSpecial circumstances only.
WisconsinYesRub damage is most common, but bucks inside intended exclosures and for human safety reasons like airport runways may also be taken.

Western States

StateBucksSpecial Requirements / Comments
MontanaYesIt is allowed but rarely implemented, could be if antlered bucks are known to be causing damage. If harvest of bucks is authorized, landowners cannot select any of the hunters; in those cases, all hunters must be selected by the department.
New MexicoYes“Jennings Law” allows landowners to kill wildlife they believe is threatening their crops. It does not require a tag. Also, special depredation hunts where we allocate licenses to address depredation complaints.
OregonYesIf wildlife is a threat to human health and safety. Or controlled hunts with an any-deer bag limit are specifically set up to address damage.
UtahYesSpecial circumstances.


Only Ontario allows bucks to be taken on depredation permits. Permit holders may take any buck, any time.

Total Crop Depredation Deer Harvest

There’s no doubt antlered bucks are killed with crop depredation tags, but according to wildlife agency records it occurs less often than many hunters think it does. We surveyed agencies for our 2013 Whitetail Report and estimated a total deer kill with crop depredation tags of 66,000 based on responses from 25 states, less than about 2% of the national deer-hunter harvest at that time.

Of the estimated kill with these tags reported as antlered or antlerless, only 4.5% were antlered bucks. Certainly, as many hunters suspect, the reporting system for deer killed with crop depredation tags is not flawless. While the real numbers of deer killed with these tags is likely somewhat higher than agency estimates, we believe the vast majority of them are antlerless deer.

NDA’s Recommendations 

Depredation/damage tags are sometimes necessary to protect farmers’ livelihoods or from a public relations standpoint for state and provincial agencies. However, state and provincial wildlife agencies also owe it to their hunter constituents to enforce permit requirements, ensure accurate reporting of harvests, and to issue the majority of permits only for antlerless deer to be used outside of peak fawning season.