Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

2009 N.Y. deer take won’t decline much

Albany – DEC won’t release its final deer harvest figures until
next month, but indications are the harvest totals will run nearly
on par with last season and perhaps slightly – but only slightly –
below.

But DEC officials did, however, indicate the overall deer take
in the Northern Zone appears to be down by 15-20 percent.

“The overall statewide total probably won’t be substantially up
or down from last year,”_DEC_wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst said.
“Our harvest reports are at 99 percent of last year’s reported
total, and although reporting rates change from year to year, I
suspect (the total harvest) will be fairly close to last year.”

Hurst said early indications are that deer harvests in the
southeast, central and western parts of the state were relatively
close to last year, particularly the buck harvest. Antlerless deer
harvests in those regions may be up slightly, according to
preliminary reports.

Long Island figures were not yet available since that deer
season runs through Jan. 29 in Suffolk County.

New York deer hunters last year killed 222,979 whitetails,
including 105,747 bucks, according to DEC’s calculated harvest
figures. That figure was the eighth highest on record, behind the
1992 take of 233,144 and harvests from 1998-2003, which ranged from
230,758 to a high of 308,216 in 2002.

The 2008 season was marked by a soaking wet Southern Zone
opening weekend, and as a result this past season’s Southern Zone
opening day harvest was about 20 percent higher than the 2008
kickoff. But indications are the harvest totals flattened out
during the remainder of the season.

The past season brought its own weather-related challenges. Warm
weather across much of the state created less-than-ideal conditions
which seemingly kept deer movement to a minimum.

“I think conditions were pretty tough during much of the
season,” Hurst said. “The weather wasn’t conducive to still
hunting. It was not easy by any means. There are always regional
variations; western New York had some snow. It happens every year
to some degree.”

Hurst said that the past deer season brought in the usual mix of
hunter success and failures. “We still got a lot of varied reports,
which happens every year, really,” he said. “Some hunters were
having very good success and others were struggling.”

Many deer hunters – particularly those who struck out during the
recent season – point to DEC’s nuisance permit program, which
allows whitetails to be harvested for crop damage outside the
traditional hunting season, as a major factor in the lower deer
numbers. Others pin the problem on what they perceive to be a
burgeoning coyote population.

“I have hunted in Southern Tier on the same farm for 40 years
and I can tell you it went from a wonderful place to a hunt to
where I have not seen a deer in two years,”_Larry Mooney wrote in a
letter to New York Outdoor News. “And in the Northern Zone, DEC
admits it has few deer but still continues to have the muzzleloader
season with does being legal.”

Mike Madigan of Corning (Steuben County) agreed.

“Five of us usually get a couple of deer during bow season, but
this year – zero,” he wrote.

Richard Sementelli of Webster (Monroe County) attributes the
decline in deer numbers to a combination of road kills, coyote
predation, poaching, winter kill, nuisance permits and the
combination of archery, muzzleloader and firearms deer seasons.

“The DEC should wake up and get its act together because the
well is going dry and someone with some form of common sense should
put a stop to it,” he wrote.

Other hunters, however, say they’re seeing enough deer afield to
keep them happy.

“I see lots of does and enough bucks with good racks. I have
seen enough 4- and 6-pointers every year that I couldn’t figure out
why other hunters didn’t,” wrote Tom_Lebar, Jr., of North Tonawanda
(Niagara County) “The guys I hunt with usually see enough
also.”

Rob Nelson, a member of a hunting club in WMU 3H of southeastern
New York, says antler restrictions have worked well since
3-points-a-side regulations were implemented there in 2006.

“This past rifle season alone saw members of our club harvest
three 8-point bucks and one 10-point buck during the first four
days of the season. Our members continued to sight numerous mature,
as well as young bucks up to the last day of the season. It was the
best harvest in the 20-plus year history of the club,”_Nelson
wrote.

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