Even with the addition of the crossbow as a legal weapon in 2011, deer harvest numbers barely changed between 2010 and 2011 in New York. The total number of deer actually varied less than one percent statewide. Hunters also continued a two-decade-long trend of taking a higher proportion of 2.5-year-old bucks and older.

Notably, there were more deer management permits issued in 2011 than in 2010 and the total 5-year average between 2006 and 2010. More deer were taken with a bow in 2011, although less were taken with a muzzleloader.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported a record number of bear harvested while deer take was steady in 2011. This article focuses on deer take. Read about the bear harvest here.

Original press release issued by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on March 1st, 2012:

Hunters in New York State harvested more than 228,350 deer during the 2011 hunting seasons, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The deer take nearly matched the 2010 deer take in southern New York.

“Deer and bear hunting are long-standing traditions in New York, providing a valuable source of food and a means of shared recreation for many families,” Commissioner Martens said. “Throughout the state, hunters play a crucial role by helping to maintain healthy and ecologically sound deer and bear populations.”

The 2011 deer take varied less than one percent from the 2010 take statewide. In 2011, hunters took slightly more than 118,350 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns) and just over 110,000 adult male deer (bucks). In the northern zone, the buck take (about 15,900) was essentially unchanged from 2010, though the antlerless harvest (about 10,900) was down about 13 percent from last year. In the southern zone, excluding Long Island, the adult buck take (about 93,100) increased nearly four percent over last year while the antlerless harvest (about 105,400) decreased by three percent.

2011 marked the first year that crossbows were allowed as a legal hunting implement for deer. However, legislation limited crossbow use to the regular firearms seasons and subsequent muzzleloader seasons for deer. Relatively few hunters took crossbows afield and the estimated take by crossbows was only 491 deer statewide, less than 0.25 percent of the total deer harvest.

Throughout the state, hunters took a slightly higher proportion of 2.5-year-old and older bucks than in previous years, continuing a trend that has developed over the past two decades. Throughout most of New York, hunters can take a buck of any age, but an increasing number of hunters are voluntarily choosing to take older bucks with larger antlers. In 2011, 46 percent of harvested bucks were 2.5-years-old or older, compared to only 33 percent in 2000 and 28 percent in the early 1990s.

Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region perennially lead the state in total deer-harvest densities, and deer take in 2011 remained true to form. The top five counties for 2011 were Yates (16.4 total deer per square mile), Wyoming (13.8), Genesee (10.8), Ontario (10.5), and Livingston (10.0).

It’s important to note that the total deer harvest is strongly impacted by the number of Deer Management Permits (DMPs) available in a given area, which govern the harvest of antlerless deer and are used to manage the deer population in a given area.

A more accurate picture of relative deer abundance is revealed by the number of bucks harvested per square mile. The five counties with the most bucks harvested per square mile were: Yates (5.6), Wyoming (5.4), Orange (4.1), Ontario (4.1), and Allegany (4.0). The deer populations in four of the counties listed above (all except Allegany County) are higher than the deer population objectives set for those counties. DEC will continue its efforts to reduce the deer population to achieve the desired density levels wherever necessary.

In 2011, DEC adopted a white-tailed deer management plan (see: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7211.html#DeerPlan). The plan will guide DEC deer management and deer hunting decisions for the next five years. In the upcoming weeks, DEC will propose several regulation changes that were identified in the deer management plan. Hunters and the public will have the opportunity to comment on these changes when a formal proposal is made. Some of the proposed revisions include:

  • change the start date of the southern zone bow season to October 1
  •  establish a youth hunt for deer
  • allow DMPs to be used during the northern zone bow and muzzleloader seasons
  • establish mandatory antler restrictions in seven additional Wildlife Management Units in the Catskills
  • establish a late bowhunting season in portions of the northern zone
  • and establish Deer Management Focus Areas to expand the use of traditional hunting in areas with overabundant deer

Deer Harvest Comparison

2011 Total2010 TotalPrevious 5-Year
Average (2006-2010)
Total Take228,359230,100216,825
Adult Male110,002106,960103,157
Antlerless118,357123,140113,668
Adult Female82,09084,80677,112
Deer Management
Permits Issued
534,207498,294498,298
Deer Management
Permit Take
87,43989,85582,529
Deer Management
Assistance Program
Take
10,76712,38410,462
Muzzleloader16,45418,38717,590
Bowhunting36,32334,53032,391

Photo: HuntFishGuide.com

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