The deer take included approximately 128,850 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns) and about 114,700 adult bucks (1.5 years or older), both estimates being within 4 percent of the 2012 take. Hunters in the Northern Zone walked out of the woods with roughly 32,300 deer, including 19,500 adult bucks. The Northern Zone take for the 2012-2013 season was 30,843; in 2000-2001 the Northern Zone take was 28,622 in the 2010-2011 season. In the Southern Zone, excluding Long Island, hunters took 208,300 deer, including about 94,200 adult bucks. Comparisons of these harvest estimates with past seasons can be found online.
This year marked New York’s second 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. An estimated 8,860 junior hunters participated in the Youth Deer Hunt, resulting in 1,275 deer taken (728 adult bucks and 547 antlerless deer).
DEC wildlife managers now believe that more antlerless deer need to be taken and that older bucks are are becoming a larger portion of the adult buck harvests. According to a press release issued by DEC:
This year’s harvest shows a continuing trend of concern to DEC deer managers. 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 too high – above levels recommended by local stakeholder groups who live, hunt or manage land in those areas. Even with very liberal opportunities for take of antlerless deer, not enough females are being taken to reduce populations to desired levels. In these areas, 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.
Hunters took a record number of bucks (approximately 55,300) aged 2.5 years or older in 2013. 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. Although mandatory antler restrictions in 11 WMUs in southeastern New York are a contributing factor, many New York hunters outside those areas are voluntarily choosing not to take young bucks, thereby letting these bucks get another year or two older before they are taken.
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 2013-14 deer harvests, including charts and maps describing the harvest, is available on DEC’s website.