Albany — A 10 percent statewide reduction in Deer Management
Permits virtually guarantees the Southern Zone deer harvest will
decline this season.
But DEC officials say the statewide deer kill always indicative of
what’s happening in many areas of the state.
And many whitetail hunters are, in fact, optimistic heading into
the season, which opens Oct. 16 for bowhunters and is followed by
the popular firearms season that kicks of Nov. 20.
“It looks good,” said Steve Wright of Wright’s Sporting Goods
in Waverly (Tioga County). “There seems to be plenty of deer, and
guys are seeing good numbers of bucks and some good bucks.”
Wright added, however, that many hunters are upset with the $10 DMP
application fee put in place last year as part of a sweeping
sporting license fee restructuring. The application fee is just
that; hunters must pay the $10 even if they’re denied a DMP.
“I think a lot of guys forgot about that,” Wright said. “It’s like
the lottery; you lose. So they’re not getting a tag and they’re
still out $10. They’re pretty ticked about that.”
The 10 percent cut in DMPs this season comes on the heels of a 5
percent reduction last year as biologists attempt to rebuild deer
herds in several units where they’ve been slow to rebound. Winter
mortality and high antlerless harvests in previous seasons are
generally the biggest factors.
DEC wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst says the buck kill this season
“will likely be pretty close to the 2009 buck take,” when 84,955
bucks were taken, according to DEC figures.
Statewide, hunters harvested 222,798 whitetails in 2009 – virtually
identical to the 2008 tally of 222,979. The Southern Zone kill
typically accounts for about 85 percent of the overall statewide
deer harvest, and 80 percent of the DMP harvest, since antlerless
tags aren’t offered in many Northern Zone units.
“With the reduction in DMPs, the antlerless harvest will probably
be down from last year,” Hurst said. “From the hunter’s
perspective, though, the statewide numbers don’t mean as much as
what’s going on in the units they hunt.”
Hurst urged hunters to go online to read DEC’s 2010 deer season
forecast, located at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37304.html . “We added
graphs to the forecast this year to illustrate trends in deer
harvest and bowhunter sighting log data in each Wildlife Management
Unit,” he said.
In addition to the 84,955 bucks killed in the Southern Zone last
year, another 106,602 antlerless deer were taken. Included in that
number was 17,981 male fawns, or “button bucks.”
Southern Zone bowhunters last season accounted for 31,626 deer,
including 21,222 bucks, while muzzleloader hunters took 10,464
(3,261 bucks) and 83,220 were taken on DMP tags. Another 7,885
Southern Zone whitetails were harvested through the state’s Deer
Management Assistance Program, in which deer are killed to reduce
crop or other damage.
The Southern Zone firearms opener on Nov. 20 will again be New York
state’s single biggest hunting day, with an estimated 650,000
hunters heading afield.
Hurst said the only substantial regulation change relates to DEC’s
Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring program. Ratcheted up in 2004
after the discovery of CWD in five captive deer and two wild
whitetails in Oneida County, there have been no new cases found
since then. As a result, DEC has removed the mandatory deer check
requirement for hunters harvesting deer in the CWD containment
area. Hurst said random testing within that area and across the
state will continue.
Hurst also urged hunters this year to report their harvests online
on the DEC web site at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html .
“It’s straightforward and quick,” he said. “I find it much easier
than the phone reporting system.”
A unit-by-unit forecast for the Southern Zone deer season can be
found on pages 23-27 of this issue.