Outdoor Tales

Deer take down 10 percent in the northern zone

While some really nice antlers hit the forest floor this hunting season, I think the universal theme coming from Adirondack hunting camps was that less deer were being seen. I know that was our experience at my camp. The preliminary deer take numbers in the northern zone seem to follow that trend, according to senior wildlife biologist Ed Reed. Reed said the number of deer reported to the DEC this season was down about 10 percent in the northern zone. Conversely, the deer take in the southern zone was up about 10 percent, he said. “So, overall, I think the statewide total will be about the same as last year,” Reed said. Hunters harvested just over 230,000 deer in the 2010 hunting season, an increase of about 3 percent over 2009. The 2010 deer take included approximately 123,100 antlerless deer and just under 107,000 bucks.
Deer harvests in the northern zone in 2010 were very comparable to 2009, with adult buck take at approximately 16,100 and antlerless take approximately 12,500. In the southern zone, excluding Long Island, adult buck take in 2010 was approximately 89,900 while antlerless take was approximately 108,600. If the numbers hold true to Reed’s prediction, the deer take in the northern zone will decline from 28,600 deer in 2010 to 25,740 in 2011, with about 1,600 less bucks taken. Total deer take in the southern zone will rise from 198,500 in 2010 to 218,350 in 2011. Deer harvest data is gathered from two main sources, harvest reports called in by successful hunters, and DEC staff’s examination of harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Biologists are well aware that even though it is required, still only about 45 percent of successful hunters report their take, and this is taken into consideration in the final tally. Considering all variables, the DEC maintains its statewide harvest numbers are statistically accurate to within ±2 percent. Final numbers on the 2011 deer tally will not be made available to the public until February, Reed said. Reed attributed the lackluster deer take in the northern zone to a handful of factors, including milder than average fall temperatures combined with ample feed, keeping deer movement to a minimum. He also said the region has experienced larger than normal snow totals in four of the last five winters, inhibiting deer travel and making it difficult for them to reach food sources, increasing winter mortality. “Fawns are the first to go, because of their size and lack of fat reserve compared to adult deer,” Reed said. “We haven’t witnessed any really large die-offs, but a few deer here and there starts to add up in the northern zone.” The 2010 and previous year’s deer harvest by county, town, and wildlife management unit are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html on the DEC website.


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