New York deer harvest numbers up 5 percent

Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, said it isn’t clear whether the additional positives indicate a westward expansion of the disease or individual deer movements, given that all the presumptive positive deer were adult males.

Hunters in New York State harvested an estimated 213,061 deer during the 2016-17 hunting seasons, an estimated 5 percent increase over 2015-16 levels, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today, Wednesday, May 17.

The 2016 deer take included 106,055 antlerless deer and 107,006 bucks. Statewide, this represents a 7.5-percent increase in buck harvest from 2015, reflecting modest population growth following the losses experienced during the harsh winter of 2014-15. Antlerless harvest was similar to 2015 (a 2.6-percent increase), as managers sought increased antlerless harvests in certain parts of the state and reduced harvests in others.

Regionally, hunters in the Northern Zone took 24,674 deer, including 16,495 adult bucks. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 188,387 deer, including 90,511 adult bucks.

DEC’s 2016 Deer Harvest Summary report (PDF 3.75 MB) provides a suite of tables, charts, and maps detailing the statewide deer harvest. Past harvest summaries are available on DEC’s website.

Last year, DEC kicked off a campaign to encourage hunters to voluntarily pass up shots at young bucks in an effort to grow the population of larger bucks across the state. In areas where hunters had the freedom to choose what type of buck to take, nearly half of the adult bucks taken this past year were 2.5 years or older. Yearling bucks were plentiful, a result of strong survival rates through the 2015-16 winter, yet many hunters voluntarily chose restraint.

DEC also confirmed that bucks of all ages across the state were in good condition, with larger antlers, more mass, and fewer spike-antlered bucks.

2016 Deer Harvest Summary & Comparison
2016 Total 2015 Total Change
(2015 to 2016)
Previous 5-Year Average (2011-2015)
Total Take 213,061 202,973 5.0% 231,306
Adult Male 107,006 99,572 7.5% 110,377
Adult Female 78,288 75,157 4.2% 84,569
Antlerless 106,055 103,401 2.6% 120,928
Deer Management Permits Issued 588,430 626,389 -6.1% 617,591
Deer Management Permit Take 81,507 76,928 6.0% 91,612
Deer Management Assistance Program Take 9,134 10,847 -15.8% 11,405
Muzzleloader * 15,369 11,570 14,834
Bowhunting * 46,735 37,697 36,458
Crossbow 9,439 7,469 26.4% NA
Youth Hunt 1,162 1,222 -4.9% 1,273

*Values for muzzleloader and bow season Take in 2016 include deer taken on bow/muzz tags and DMPs. In past years, the muzzleloader and bow values only reflected take on bow/muzz tags.

Notable Numbers

  • 54,099 — estimated number of bucks taken in 2016 that were 2.5 years old or older. Only 49 percent of bucks taken statewide were yearlings (54 percent in units without mandatory antler restrictions).
  • 16.2 and 0.5 — number of deer taken per square mile in the unit with the highest (WMU 8N) and lowest (WMUs 5C and 5F) harvest density.
  • 65 percent — proportion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2016 Youth Deer Hunt.
  • 14,085 — number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC in 2016.
  • 186,110 — number of hunting hours recorded by 3,805 bowhunters that participated in the annual Bowhunter Sighting Log. Participating bowhunters reported 120,067 deer sightings, for an average of 64.5 deer seen per 100 hours hunted. The Bowhunter Sighting Log provides useful data on regional sighting trends for deer, moose, turkey, and a variety of furbearer species.
  • 2,447 — deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2016-17; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 40,000 deer for CWD since 2002.
  • 56.5 percent — proportion of successful deer hunters that ignored their responsibility to report their harvest as required by law. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) have increased enforcement of non-compliance with the mandatory reporting requirements.

Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC’s examination of more than 14,000 harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and calculating the total harvest from the reporting rate for each zone and tag type. A full report of the 2016-17 deer harvest, as well as past deer and bear harvest summaries, is available on DEC’s website.

— New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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