Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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DEC: Deer harvest shows herd buildup

Staff report

Albany – New York’s deer hunters bagged more whitetails in the
2006-07 season than the previous year, a harvest fueled by a record
muzzleloader take and an 8 percent increase in the buck kill.

DEC officials said the overall harvest was an estimated 189,108
deer, up from 180,214 the previous season.

‘New York hunters once again had a safe and successful deer
season,’ said Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Carl Johnson.
‘Our harvest results (from 2006-07) are right about where we
projected, and we’re encouraged to see modest growth in many
Southern Zone units.’

DEC deer biologists expected a slight jump in the deer harvest
this season on the heels of a reduction in Deer Management Permits
in 2004 and 2005 designed to boost whitetail numbers. DMPs
statewide were increased by about 3 percent this past season, but
the overall antlerless harvest was up slightly – from 91,199 in
2005-06 to 92,539 last season.

The statewide buck harvest went from 89,015 in 2005-06 to 96,569
last season, a number DEC officials say suggests the deer herd is
rebounding slowly in many areas of the state that had seen numbers
plummet in recent years.

Johnson said the plan was for a ‘conservative’ antlerless
harvest to continue a herd growth trend in many Wildlife Management
Units (WMUs) hit hard by back-to-back severe winters several years
ago. The growth trend ‘may not be as fast or as large as many
hunters would prefer. However, the number of WMUs with deer
populations near desired levels is increasing, and with the
conservative antlerless harvest this past year, we anticipate
continued success in achieving objectives over the next few years,’
he said.

More than half (55 percent) of the state’s WMUs have deer
numbers below levels desired by DEC biologists. About 20 percent
are above the goal, and 25 percent are within 10 percent of the
targeted range.

The muzzleloader harvest was at a record 15,700 statewide, about
two-thirds of them antlerless deer. Hurst says the popularity of
muzzleloader hunting – over 220,000 hold tags – may lead biologists
to take a close look at the impact on the antlerless deer herd,
particularly in the Northern Zone WMUs where in many cases only a
muzzleloader or bow can be used to take an antlerless deer.

New York’s archers bagged nearly 29,500 deer, but conversely,
about 65 percent were bucks. There are about 200,000 bowhunters in
the state.

Another 9,986 deer were harvested on Deer Management Assistance
Program tags, primarily for crop damage. That harvest figure was
virtually unchanged from the previous season’s 9,967 tally.

Southern Tier and western New York WMUs showed the highest total
harvest, led by WMU 7M, primarily Madison, Chenango and Cortland
counties, where 7,618 whitetails – including an estimated 4,490
bucks – were taken. WMU 9H (primarily Wyoming and Erie counties)
was next with 7,584, including 3,461 bucks, and WMU 7R totaled
6,275, if which 2,513 were bucks.

Three western New York counties led the way in total deer take.
Cattaraugus County had a total of 8,492 taken, including 4,320
bucks, while Allegany County’s tallies were 8,341 (4,438 bucks) and
Chautauqua was at 6,810/3,332.

The statewide buck take increased even though two additional
WMUs (3H and 3K, primarily in Sullivan County) operated under a
three-points-a-side antler restriction for the first time. DEC
officials said the decline in buck take in the first year of that
program was expected as most yearling bucks didn’t sport legal
racks.

DEC officials also noted that no new cases of Chronic Wasting
Diseases were discovered this past season, despite the testing of
over 7,900 whitetails – including about 1,800 from the CWD
containment zone in Oneida and Madison counties. Since 2002, about
18,700 whitetails have been tested for CWD, with five confirmed
cases in Oneida County – two in wild whitetails and five in captive
deer.

DEC officials also praised the state’s 3,000 sportsman education
instructors, calling their efforts critical in the state’s improved
hunter safety record. This past season was the fourth-safest on
record, with just one fatality among 35 hunting-related shooting
accidents.

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