Deer harvest on par with previous year

Hunters harvested about 243,550 deer during the 2013-14 hunting seasons, nearly equivalent to the statewide take last year, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said last week.

The 2013 deer take included about 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. In the Southern Zone, excluding Long Island, hunters took 208,300 deer, including about 94,200 adult bucks.

Martens said hunters took a record number of bucks (about 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.

Martens also said the 2013 harvest shows a continuing trend of concern to DEC deer managers.

In many Wildlife Management Units,  including portions of southeastern New York and the Lake Plains region of western New York, harvest trends indicate deer populations are too high — above levels recommended by local stakeholder groups who live, hunt or manage land in those areas.

He said even with very liberal opportunities for take of antlerless deer, not enough females are being taken to reduce populations to desired levels.

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