Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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NY: Northern Zone deer harvest appears up

Elizabethtown, N.Y. – Northern Zone deer hunters figured this
season had to be better than last year, when warm temperatures
throughout the lengthy season impacted harvest numbers.

And, based on early reports, this season has been better - but
maybe not by a lot.

That might be a bit of a surprise to both DEC biologists and to
hunters, since last year’s buck harvest of 16,279 was down 21
percent from the 2008 season.

“It seems to be pretty good,” DEC Region 6 biologist James
Farquhar said last week. “Our harvest reports are up slightly
compared to last year. I think Saturday (Nov. 12) was a probably a
fairly phenomenal day of hunting; I was out there and heard a lot
of shooting. Sunday was a little less so. It wasn’t quite as cold
and it got windy.”

Hunters headed into the season with cause for optimism: last
year’s poor harvest left a lot of bucks on the landscape, and a
relatively mild winter kept mortality at a minimum.

Whether that translates into a total kill that’s well above last
season remains to be seen. DEC wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst says
the state doesn’t break down harvest reports until the final tally
is made, but right now reported kills “are running a little bit
above, maybe 1-2 percent,” the same time last year.

The Northern Zone firearms season kicks off in mid-October and
runs into early December. Unlike the Southern Zone season, where
the bulk of the kill occurs in the first two weekends, the Northern
Zone season builds to a crescendo – particularly if snow cover aids
hunters in locating bucks.

This year has been marked by a lack of snow in most areas of the
Adirondacks, with the exception of some higher elevations. But the
record warm temperatures hunters saw during the 2009 season have
been replaced by more seasonable weather, which has created more
deer movement.

“They’re taking a few bucks, and some nice bucks,” said Norm St.
Pierre of Norm’s Bait and Tackle in Crown Point (Essex County).
“But we’re not seeing as many hunters, really. We’re not seeing the
cars parked along the roads like we used to.”

St. Pierre said hunters along Lake Champlain also saw less
rutting activity than those in the mountain areas. “The rut was a
little later along the lake; it was going good over in the
mountains in places like Newcomb,” he said.

Snow cover, Farquhar said, would probably boost the harvest a
bit and also give hunters a little more cause for optimism up
north, where deer densities are some of the lowest in the
state.

“Some areas by mid-November have typically seen decent amounts
of snow cover,” he said. “That still could happen, but it hasn’t
yet.”

DEC biologists also rely on checks with meat processors to get a
feel for how the season is going. “The meat cutters are a little
bit above last year, which we kind of expected,” Farquhar said.
“Last year was an awfully tough season.”

Some big bucks have been taken in the North Country, notably a
21-point nontypical harvested in the Indian Lake area of Hamilton
County. Others have approached the 200-pound mark, a weight coveted
by the big woods deer hunters of northern New York.

“It’s not too bad,” said Richard Chapman of Chapman’s Sports in
Hammond (St. Lawrence County). “There have been a few bucks taken.
The biggest I saw was a 13-pointer; I saw a cell phone picture of
that one.”

The Northern Zone firearms season ends Dec. 5, and is followed
by a muzzleloader season in selected wildlife management units from
Dec. 6-12.

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