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Hooks and Antlers: DEC believes larger antleress deer take needed

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New York State hunters took 243,567 deer in 2013, a 3 percent increase over the 2012 kill of 242,957 deer and a 6 percent increase over the five-year average (2008-2012) harvest of 229,439 deer.

The 2013 harvest was comprised of 114,716 adult bucks (1.5 years old or older) and 128,851 antlerless deer (fawns and adult does).

The adult buck kill represents a 3.6 percent drop from the 2012 take of 118,993 bucks, but a 5.5 percent increase over the five-year average harvest of 108,752 bucks.

The 2013 antlerless kill represents a 3.9 percent increase over the 2012 harvest of 123,964 antlerless deer and a 6.8 percent increase over the 5-year average take of 120,687 antlerless deer.

DEC ASSESSMENTS

In its press release for the 2013 estimated deer harvest, DEC made two assessments: more antlerless deer need to be taken and older bucks are becoming a larger portion of adult buck harvests.

In regards to the antlerless harvest, DEC said, “This year’s 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 that deer populations are too high — above levels recommended by local stakeholder groups who live, hunt, or manage land in those areas.

Even with very liberal opportunities for take of antlerless deer, not enough females are being taken to reduce populations to desired levels. In these areas, DEC and hunters “must begin considering new ways to increase the antlerless deer take to achieve deer populations that are compatible with ecosystem health and consistent with the public’s interest.”

Recording older bucks, DEC said, “Hunters took a record number of bucks (approximately 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 with 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. Although mandatory antler restrictions in 11 Wildlife Management Units in southeastern New York are a contributing factor, many New York hunters outside those areas are voluntarily choosing not to take young bucks, thereby letting those bucks get another year of two older before they are taken.”

Harvests by Permits, Seasons

DEC issued 650,472 Deer Management Permits (DMPs) for the 2013 season, and those permits resulted in the taking of 98,945 deer or 41 percent of the total number of deer harvested. I found it surprising that the success rate for hunters who had DMPs was only 15 percent.

Under the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), DEC issues permits to landowners and resource managers for site-specific deer management, and those permits can only be used during the hunting seasons. The DMAP take for 2013 was 12,285 deer or 5 percent of the total harvest.

The muzzleloader seasons saw a kill of 14,970 deer or 6 percent of the total take while the bow season resulted in 36,676 kills or 15 percent of the 2013 harvest.

Youth hunters took 1,275 deer during the special youth season, and that figure represents less than one percent of the total take. Hunters put their regular season tags on 79,416 deer or 33 percent of the overall harvest.

Spring Classic Fishing Derby

The Henderson Harbor Spring Classic Fishing Derby is slated for Thursday-Sunday, May 15-18, and the 2014 edition features divisions for brown trout, lake trout, walleye, northern pike, and pickerel. Anglers can register ($20) at Henchen Marina in Henderson Harbor, B&J Bait Shop in Dexter, Gander Mountain in Watertown, or All Seasons Sports in Pulaski.

Too, anglers can mail their registration to Henderson Harbor Performing Arts Association, PO Box 115, Henderson, N.Y., 13650.

For more information, contact Henchen Marina at 938-5313 or www.hencenmarina.com or contact the Performing Arts Association at 938-7333 or www.hhpaa.org.

Outdoor Calendar

May 10: St. Lawrence Waterfowlers Annual Art Auction and Dinner.

May 13: Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of SLC meet at Canton Boces at 7 p.m.

May 15-18: Henderson Harbor Spring Classic Derby (938-5313; www.henchenmarina.com).

May 17-23: National Safe Boating Week.

May 27: SLC Fisheries Advisory Board meets at Canton Boces at 7 p.m.

May 31: Wild Turkey Season closes in NYS.

June 28-29: Free Fishing Days in NYS.

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