Hunters in New York State harvested more than 228,350 deer and 1,250 bears during the 2011 hunting seasons the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The deer take nearly matched the 2010 deer take while a new record was set for the bear harvest in southern New York.
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.
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.
Outside of the Adirondack region the 2011 bear harvest set new records, substantially exceeding previous record takes in central and western New York. In contrast, bear take in the Adirondack region dropped to a level not seen since 1998. The bear take was below the five-year average during each of the bear seasons and the overall bear take was down about 47 percent from 2010 for the region. Bear harvest rates in the Adirondacks typically drop in the early season during years of abundant soft mast (cherries, raspberries and apples), while the take will increase during the regular season in years with abundant beech nuts.
This past season provided abundant soft mast, particularly raspberries and blackberries in September and October, and bear take during the early season was only 70 bears, about 70 percent below the five-year average. Beech nut abundance was mixed throughout the Adirondacks and the regular season bear take was approximately 15 percent below the five-year average. Additionally, much of the muzzleloading and regular season in the Adirondacks had above average temperatures and snow cover was inconsistent and relatively scarce making bear hunting all the more challenging.
Deer and bear harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required by all successful hunters and DEC*s examination of harvested deer and bear at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources. For more information about the 2011 deer and bear harvests, see DEC’s website.