As I write this, the end of deer season across New York is fast approaching. This year the Northern Zone and Southern Zone rifle seasons end on the same day, Dec. 8, with the late muzzleloading seasons following. They end Dec. 15 and 17, respectively.
For those who hunt the Southern Tier, that’s business as usual. But for Northern Zone hunters, things are wrapping up a little later this year. This is simply due to the fact that the Northern Zone early muzzleloading season begins the Saturday after Columbus Day, which occurred as late as possible this year.
The regular season lasts 44 days and includes seven weekends. A late muzzleloading season, which excludes the interior of the Adirondacks, follows the rifle season.
Again, Southern Zone hunters are used to their deer hunting concluding just in time for the holidays, but that only happens occasionally for Northern Zone hunters. When it does, winter-like conditions often prevail, but that is not always the case.
I recall the 2015 deer season when things carried into mid-December. There was little snow that year and it was unseasonably warm. We got two small bucks that weekend and one was a spike my cousin shot on a deer drive.
When we approached him he said he’d shot a spike. But the deer laying on the ground had no antlers. My cousin swore it had them when it came by him and it became obvious they had fallen off. We spent several minutes looking in the leaves and were able to find both of the small antlers, which had broken off when the buck tumbled to the ground. So it’s obviously possible that bucks could shed their antlers before deer season ends.
The end of deer season is bittersweet. Regardless how early or late in December it occurs, in some ways you are ready for it to end and in others you are not. I’ve been deer hunting since the Northern Zone archery season opened on Sept. 27 and have logged nearly 60 miles on my hunting boots; most of them since early November making deer drives in the Adirondacks.
Like anyone else, I’m a busy guy and the holiday season is always hectic regarding my full-time job. With that, I welcome a break and a chance to sleep in on a Saturday morning. My wife wouldn’t mind having me around as well.
But I hate seeing deer season end. It’s so special. You wait all year for it and then it’s quickly over. It has nothing to do with unfilled tags or a full freezer and everything to do with one more good day in the woods.
I always want just one more weekend at deer camp. One more chance to walk over my favorite mountain. One more sunrise and sunset and one more chance to hear a shot at the end of a deer drive knowing I just helped push one of my partners a buck.
You never know what next deer season is going to bring so I want to get everything I can out of this one. Good luck down the stretch!