From New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
-- Hunters in New York State harvested more than 228,350 deer and 1,250 bears during the 2011 hunting seasons. The number of deer taken nearly matched the 2010 number, 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 and just over 110,000 bucks.
In the northern zone, the15,900 bucks were taken, a number essentially unchanged from 2010, though the antlerless harvest of 10,900 deer was down about 13 percent from last year. In the southern zone, excluding Long Island, about 93,100 bucks were taken, an increase of nearly 4 percent over last year, while the antlerless harvest of 105,400 deer decreased 3 percent.
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.
Last year, 46 percent of harvested bucks were 2.5 years or older, compared to only 33 percent in 2000 and 28 percent in the early 1990s.
Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region perennially lead the state in total deer harvest densities, and remained true to form for 2011. The top five counties for 2011 were Yates with 16.4 total deer per square mile, Wyoming with13.8, Genesee with 10.8, Ontario with 10.5, and Livingston with 10.
The total deer harvest is strongly impacted by the number of Deer Management Permits (DMPs) available in a given area, which govern the harvest of antlerless deer and are used to manage the deer population in a given area. A more accurate picture of relative deer abundance is revealed by the number of bucks harvested per square mile.
The five counties with the most bucks harvested per square mile were Yates (5.6), Wyoming (5.4), Orange (4.1), Ontario (4.1) and Allegany (4.0). The deer populations in four of the counties except Allegany are higher than population objectives. Efforts to reduce deer population to desired density levels wherever necessary remain in place.
In 2011, DEC adopted a white-tailed deer management plan to guide management and hunting decisions for the next five years. Several regulation changes will be proposed soon. These include changing start date of the southern zone bow season to October 1; establish a youth hunt for deer; allow DMPs to be used during the northern zone bow and muzzleloader seasons; establish mandatory antler restrictions in seven additional Wildlife Management Units in the Catskills; establish a late bowhunting season in portions of the northern zone; and establish Management Focus Areas to expand the use of traditional hunting in areas with overabundant deer.
See more information online at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7211.html#DeerPlan.
Outside of the Adirondack region the 2011 bear harvest set new records, substantially exceeding previous records in central and western New York. In contrast, the number of bears taken in the Adirondack region dropped to a level not seen since 1998.
Hunters in southeastern New York harvested 630 bears, over the previous record of 520 set in 2008. Playing a role in this was a new rule that expanded bear hunting in eastern New York State to include all or portions of seven new counties in eastern New York from Rockland and Westchester north to Washington beginning in 2011.
Hunters took 50 bears from this new area, including 18 bears taken in Washington County, 11 in Rensselaer County, 10 in Columbia County, 7 in Dutchess County, 2 in Putnam County and 2 in Rockland County. Without the additional bears, the number of bears taken in the southeastern region exceeded previous record levels. This reflects a 25-year trend of generally increasing bear harvests in this region.
In central and western New York, the 2011 bear take of 353 greatly surpassed the previous record of 193 bears set in 2008.
This is because a regulation moved the regular bear season opening day up one week to coincide with the start of the regular deer season. This change was implemented to reduce bear population growth and range expansion. It is likely that bear take during the traditional season would have matched or exceeded the 2008 record, reflecting a 15 year trend of generally increasing bear harvests in this region.
In the Adirondacks, bear take was below the 5 year average during each of the bear seasons and the overall bear take was down about 47 percent from 2010.
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 www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.