(DEC) – Though big game hunting seasons have now closed in most of New York, deer hunting opportunities continue through January in Suffolk County (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/40409.html) and will resume January 9 in the Tompkins County Deer Management Focus Area (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/82382.html).
DEC staff were afield throughout the fall collecting biological data from harvested deer and bear, but hunters also contribute essential data by reporting their harvest successes via DEC’s phone and internet reporting system. Preliminary summaries reveal that New York hunters reported taking 14% more bears in the Northern Zone and 3% fewer bears in the Southern Zone this past fall than in 2014. In both zones, reported bear harvest lagged during the early seasons, but hunters apparently had greater success during the bow, muzzleloader and regular seasons in 2015 than 2014.
To date, reports of deer harvest declined by 13% in the Northern Zone and 11% in the Southern Zone in 2015 compared to 2014. Overall, declines were more pronounced for reported take of female deer than male deer and during the regular firearms seasons and late bow and muzzleloader seasons than during the early bow or muzzleloader seasons. Given the severe winter of 2014-15 and associated reduction in permits for antlerless deer in most Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), a minor decline in overall deer harvest was anticipated. Too, unseasonably warm conditions and lack of snow during much of November and December also likely contributed to reduced hunter success in many areas. As usual, deer harvest varies considerably across the state, and preliminarily it looks like deer hunters in western New York generally saw less harvest decline than in portions of central and southeastern New York. More variation will be evident when we look at the harvest by WMU.
Final estimates of bear and deer harvests will be available after all seasons close and all data have been compiled. Reports of deer and bear harvests from prior years are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.