RAY?BROOK - Hunters harvested approximately 243,000 deer during the 2012-13 hunting seasons, about 6 percent more than were taken the previous year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced recently.
"Deer hunting is a long-standing tradition in New York, providing shared recreation and a valuable source of food for many families," Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release.
The 2012 deer take included approximately 124,000 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns) and an estimated 119,000 adult bucks.
Lake Placid News File Photo
Hunters took more deer in the Adirondacks in 2012 than the year before.
Increases were most pronounced in the Northern Zone, which includes the Adirondacks, where estimates of total take increased 15 percent from 2011. The total deer taken in 2012 was 30,843.
The estimated adult buck take was 19,400, an increase from 15,900 in 2011. The estimated antlerless take was 11,400, which was an increase from 10,900 in the Northern Zone.
In the Southern Zone, excluding Long Island, the estimated adult buck take was 98,570, a 6 percent increase, while the antlerless take of 110,900 was up 5 percent from 2011.
Inaugural youth hunt
This year marked New York's first youth deer hunt, 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 properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult mentor. Approximately 7,800 junior hunters participated in the youth deer hunt, resulting in an estimated 1,411 deer taken: 744 adult bucks and 667 antlerless deer.
"The youth deer hunt was a success, and junior hunters and their mentors were very enthusiastic about the opportunity," Martens said. "With greater awareness of this special opportunity in coming years, we expect the program to grow in participation and value for our hunting heritage."
This year also marked the second year with crossbows as a legal hunting implement for deer. Legislation limited crossbow use to the regular firearms seasons and subsequent muzzleloader seasons. The crossbow authorization expired December 31, 2012, so hunters could not use crossbows during the January firearms season in Suffolk County. Because of the legal limitations, relatively few hunters took crossbows afield, and the estimated take by crossbows was only 438 deer statewide, less than 0.2 percent of the total deer harvest.
New this year, was the Southern Zone bow season opening on October 1. This change added 12 days of hunting for Southern Zone bow hunters. As expected, the additional 12 days of bowhunting opportunity seems to have dispersed hunter take over a slightly longer period. The estimated take by Southern Zone bowhunters was similar in 2012 (33,170) as in 2011 (33,900).
WNY and Finger Lakes lead the pack
Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region perennially lead the state in total deer-harvest densities, and deer take in 2012 remained true to form. The top five counties for 2012 were Yates (16.0 total deer taken per square mile), Wyoming (14.6), Genesee (11.9), Cayuga (11.3), and Ontario County (11.2).
Total harvest is strongly impacted by the number of Deer Management Permits (DMPs) available in an area, which affects the harvest of antlerless deer. A more accurate picture of relative deer population densities is revealed by the density of buck harvest. By this figure, the top counties for buck harvest density are: Yates (5.9 bucks taken per square mile), Wyoming (5.8), Cayuga (4.6), Livingston (4.5), and Genesee County (4.4). Deer populations are above objective in all of these areas, and hunters are encouraged to take more antlerless deer to reduce deer populations toward desired levels.
Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required by all successful hunters, and DEC staff's examination of harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources.
Additional information about the 2012-13 deer harvests is available on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov.
Spring turkey season opens soon
The 2013 spring turkey season opens Wednesday, May 1 in the Adirondacks.
"Turkey hunting remains a very popular activity with more than 100,000 turkey hunters taking to the field each spring," Martens said. "As part of Governor Cuomo's NY's Open for Hunting and Fishing initiative, the annual Youth Turkey Hunt took place this past weekend and was an excellent chance for young hunters to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters to learn about conservation first-hand, gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of New York's hunting community."
Other important details for the spring turkey season, May 1-31:
-Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island.
-Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license.
-Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
-Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.
-Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.
-Successful hunters must fill out the tag which comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
-Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html.
For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2012-13 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the "Turkey Hunting" pages of the DEC website.
New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, largely due to the annual efforts of more than 3,000 dedicated volunteer sportsmen education instructors. Even one incident is too many, so be sure to follow the cardinal rules of hunting safety: (1) assume every gun is loaded; (2) control the muzzle; (3) keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; (4) be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it; and (5) don't stalk!
Set-up with your back against a large tree and call birds to you. To find a sportsman education class in your area, go to www.dec.ny.gov or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).