2018 New York State Deer Hunting Season Forecast September, 2018

New York Deer Population, Management News and Information Archive

Deer Hunting Season Forecasts

2018 New York State Forecast, DEC 

With deer hunting seasons that span four months, vastly different habitat types, and nearly 4 million acres of public land to be explored, New York State offers unique opportunities for hunters to pursue white-tailed deer.

Deer hunting is changing in New York as many hunters are choosing to voluntarily Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow. The results are clear - older bucks are making up an increasing portion of our deer harvest. In fact, in 2017 over 53% of the adult bucks taken across the state were 2.5 years old or older. That's great news for New York hunters and their families, because the average 2-year-old buck generally yields 25-30% more meat and carries antlers twice as large as the average yearling. Hunters can continue to push the harvest ratio solidly toward older bucks by cooperating with your neighbors and hunting partners to let young bucks go.

2018-2019 Deer Hunting Season

For the 2018-19 deer hunting season, we expect the statewide buck harvest to be similar to 2017 and the antlerless harvest to increase slightly. Statewide, we increased the allocation of Deer Management Permits (DMPs; antlerless tags) by roughly 8% from what was issued in 2017, with most of the increased DMP availability occurring in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in central and western New York where deer populations are either above desired levels or increasing toward desired levels.

Though the 2017-18 winter stretched into April in many parts of the state and some areas had snow on the opening day of Spring Turkey season, the index for winter severity wasn't excessive. We had a few reports of some fawn mortality after the March snowstorms, but these were very localized. So overall, we are expecting another good season for NY deer hunters. 

For greater detail on what is happening with the deer population in your area, check out the Unit-by-Unit Forecasts assembled by our regional big game biologists.

Changes Coming to Deer Population Objectives

This past spring, we began phasing in a survey-based process for gathering information on citizens' preferences on deer population levels. We mailed the survey to a random selection of citizens in about one third of the state this year and will survey the rest of the state in 2019. The survey asks respondents about their deer-related interests and concerns, how they would like to see the deer population in their area change over the next several years, and how important deer management issues are to them. We intend to use the survey results, in combination with data on deer impacts on forest regeneration, to guide whether deer populations should increase, decrease, or stay the same in each Wildlife Management Unit Aggregate. If this work proceeds as expected, we should have new population targets in place before the 2019 hunting seasons.

Because deer can have profound and long-lasting negative impacts on forest ecosystems and personal property, keeping these impacts at a sustainable level is a top priority of our deer program.

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