Hunters killed 5 percent fewer deer last season

New York State hunters killed an estimated 203,427 deer during the 2017-18 hunting season, according to a release from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 2017 estimated deer take included 95,623 antlerless deer and 107,804 antlered bucks, an estimated 5-percent fewer deer than the previous year. Statewide, this represents a 10-percent decline in antlerless harvest and a buck harvest nearly identical to 2016.

Hunters in the Northern Zone took 25,351 deer, including 18,074 adult bucks. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 178,076 deer, including 89,730 adult bucks.

The decline in antlerless harvest occurred despite the DEC issuing more antlerless permits last season. DEC wildlife biologists have noted two important trends from the 2017 deer harvest.

First, with 53.3 percent of the adult bucks killed averaging 2.5 years or older, hunters took an estimated 57,494 older bucks, setting a record in total number and greatest percentage of older bucks being killed.

Second, the portion of successful hunters who reported their take as required by state law increased from 44 percent in recent years to 50 percent in 2017. Along with the DEC’s Take It · Tag It · Report It campaign, the DEC has made the process of reporting easier for hunters, providing phone, internet, and mobile app options. Harvest reports are critically important for accurate monitoring of deer harvests, and DEC encourages hunters to continue to contribute to the management process by complying with the reporting requirements.

Notable numbers from the DEC’s 2017 Deer Harvest Summary report include:

— 14.5 and 0.5: number of deer taken per square mile in the unit with the highest (WMU 8N) and lowest (WMU 5F) density of killed deer;

— 46.7 percent: portion of the adult bucks killed that were yearlings (1.5 years old), the lowest in New York history and down from 62 percent a decade ago and 70 percent in the 1990s. Excluding units with mandatory antler restrictions, 50.9 percent of the adult bucks killed were yearlings, still the lowest percentage on record;

— 65 percent: portion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2016 Youth Deer Hunt;

— 14,372: number of deer killed by hunters that were checked by DEC staff in 2017; and

— 2,402: deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease in 2017-18; none tested positive. The DEC has tested more than 50,000 deer for CWD since 2002.

Data are gathered from two main sources: reports required of all successful hunters and the DEC’s examination of more than 14,000 killed deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and calculating the total from the reporting rate for each zone and tag type. A full report is available at Deer and Bear Harvests.

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