Deer harvest on par with previous year

Hunters harvested about 243,550 deer during the 2013 hunting seasons, about the same as the previous one, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 2013 deer take included about 128,850 anterless adult females and fawns and about 114,700 adult bucks, which are 1.5 years or older.

Hunters in the Northern Zone, which includes the Adirondacks, came away with 32,300 deer, including 19,500 adult bucks.

In the Southern Zone, excluding Long Island, hunters took 208,300 deer, including about 94,200 adult bucks.

In 2012, the total take statewide was 242,957 deer. The past two seasons have been a little above the five-year average between 2008 and 2012, which was 229,439 deer.

According to the DEC, this year’s harvest shows a continuing trend that concerns DEC deer managers to the south and west of the Adirondacks.

In many Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), including portions of southeastern New York and the Lake Plains region of western New York, harvest trends indicate that deer populations are above levels recommended by local stakeholder groups who live, hunt or manage land in those areas.

According to the DEC, not enough females are being taken to reduce populations. The DEC believes that DEC and hunters must begin considering new ways to the increase antlerless deer take to achieve deer populations that are compatible with ecosystem health and consistent with the public’s interests.

Older bucks becoming an increasing portion of harvest

Hunters took about 55,300 bucks aged 2.5 years or older in 2013, which was a record.

These older bucks, which many hunters desire, accounted for 48 percent of harvested adult bucks statewide in 2013, compared to only 33 percent (45,350) in 2000 when New York’s deer population peaked, and only 28 percent (about 33,000) in the early 1990s.

In part, this is influenced by the overall size of the deer population, which in much of the state is larger than desired.

Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC staff’s examination of nearly 16,200 harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources. Much additional information about the 2013 deer harvests, including charts and maps describing the harvest, is available on DEC’s website.

Youth Deer Hunt

The second annual Youth Deer Hunt was held over Columbus Day Weekend. During the Youth Deer Hunt, 14- and 15-year-old junior hunters could take one deer – antlered or antlerless – with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult mentor.

An estimated 8,860 junior hunters participated in the Youth Deer Hunt, resulting in 1,275 deer taken. Of those, 728 were adult bucks and 547 were antlerless deer.