Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

ARs under consideration for Sterling Forest lands

Tuxedo, N.Y. – Sterling Forest State Park is looking at a
proposal to impose antler restrictions on bucks harvested in the
park.

The suggestion comes from some of the deer hunters themselves;
more than 4,500 hunters head afield in the 13,000 acres open to
hunting in the park.

Officials invited hunters who have used the park in the past to
take part in a meeting July 15 to discuss antler restrictions and
several other proposals.

Those ideas surfaced as a result of a hunter survey, said park
manager Jim Gell.

The point of the meeting was to look at ways the park can
improve hunting opportunities with the help of the users
themselves, Gell said.

“We issue 4,500 annual permits to hunt in the park. We do
surveys every year,” he said. “The last few years, one suggestion
has been to impose antler restrictions in part or all of the park.
In the last survey, the number rose to 62 percent of hunters in
favor and 29 percent opposed. So we thought it was something we
should look into. 

“Hunters really appreciated being asked. It was a very positive
meeting,” Gell said. “When we start talking about antler
restrictions, there is some polarity there.”

Sterling Forest State Park comprises nearly 18,000 acres and
lies along the New Jersey border in Orange County. Hunting is one
of the primary attractions at the park.

Mandatory antler restrictions are already in place in the
portion of New Jersey adjacent to Sterling Forest.

Gell invited Charlie Fiscella, New York state chapter president
of the Quality Deer Management Association, to speak to the crowd
about antler restriction issues.

Fiscella doesn’t know what’s best for Sterling Forest. That’s
for the wildlife managers and the hunters to decide, he said.

The association’s job isn’t to impose its beliefs but to offer
guidance to hunters and others who are looking to improve deer
hunting opportunities, Fiscella said.

“We have three criteria – it needs to be based on honest data,
it has to be supported by a majority of hunters, and it needs an
objective monitoring program in place,” Fiscella said. “Our purpose
is education and information. They invited us to come and give a
well-rounded view of what antler restrictions are as a goal. Antler
restrictions are one tool in the toolbox. Any program has to be
site-specific.”

No decisions were made at the meeting and none is expected in
the near future, Gell said. Park and wildlife managers have a lot
of homework to do before deciding if any form of antler restriction
is in the best interest of hunters and the health of the deer herd,
he said.

“As a park, we have to consider other users, wildlife and plant
life and stuff,” he said. “We’d like to see the doe population
reduced. Our thinking is we’d like to have deer tread lightly on
the land here.

“We’re not really advocating quality deer management in the
park. We’re listening to the hunters,” Gell said. “We’re looking at
it, but no decisions have been made.”

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