It's been a good whitetail hunting season so far in New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation's in-season statistics.
The estimated take so far in both the Northern and Southern zones. The season started slowly here in the Northern Zone with October's warm weather, but really picked up in early November as the rut got going, and continued into the Southern Zone season.
Northern Zone bear season has been much more quiet, which is likely the result of a bumper mast crop that has allowed bears to stay in the woods to eat.
Below is a DEC news release that was issued Wednesday.
-- Don Lehman
HUNTERS REPORT MORE DEER IN 2017 THAN 2016
Deer and Bear Hunting Opportunities Continue with Late Bow and Muzzleloader Seasons
New York State hunters have been more successful in 2017 than last year through the first several weeks of big game seasons, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.
Early reports from New York hunters through Dec. 3, show that hunters reported taking approximately 18 percent more deer in the Northern Zone and 14 percent more deer in the Southern Zone compared to the same period in 2016.
“While numbers and reports are still being calculated, early indications show the deer harvest in New York is up and hunters are having greater success than last year,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Even though it is too early to say if this reflects an increase in hunter compliance with mandatory reporting rules, an increase in harvest, or both, it is clear that our efforts to foster harvest reporting through our Take It • Tag It • Report It campaign are working. I applaud all hunters for complying with our harvest reporting requirements, which provide invaluable data for DEC’s conservation staff to improve wildlife management in the state."
A final tally of the seasons’ deer and bear harvests will be compiled and released early in 2018.
Through the third weekend of the Southern Zone regular big game season, hunters reported 69,550 deer in 2017, compared to 61,184 through the same period in 2016. Similarly for the Northern Zone, hunters have reported11,349 deer in 2017, compared to 9,417 deer in 2016.
For bears, hunters have reported taking 814 bears so far in the Southern Zone, compared to 775 taken at this point in 2016, but harvest is lagging in the Northern Zone with only 291 bears reported in 2017, compared to 450 bears at this point in 2016.
DEC also observed a slight increase in reporting via the web and wildlife app in 2017 compared to 2016.
In addition, with deer populations above the target levels in much of Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Lake Plains of Western New York, Commissioner Seggos continues to encourage hunters to “take an antlerless deer or two and Let Young Bucks Go to Watch Them Grow.”
While hunters in the Southern Zone still have several more days of the regular firearms season remaining, the late bow and muzzleloading season for deer started in portions of the Northern Zone (Wildlife Management Units 5A, 5G, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6G, and 6H) on Dec. 4, and will continue through Dec. 10. The late bow and muzzleloading season for deer and bear in the Southern Zone runs from Dec. 11 to Dec. 19. Also, deer hunting opportunities continue in Westchester County until Dec. 31, in Suffolk County until Jan. 31, and in the special Deer Management Focus Area in central Tompkins County from Jan. 13 to 31.
DEC wants all hunters to be safe and enjoy themselves while afield and urges hunters to follow DEC's Hunting Safety Rules:
• Assume every gun is loaded.
• Control the muzzle. Point your gun in a safe direction.
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
• Be sure of your target and beyond.
• Do not hunt deer and bear in the dark; Big game hunting ends at sunset (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL53f0WUmmc)
• DEC encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in your direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.
• When hunting in tree stands use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle. See our new Tree Stand Safety Video for more tips on avoiding accidents (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPcVgVT7jeQ&t=4s).
• Always be prepared for winter conditions when venturing in the woods, inform a friend or relative of your whereabouts, and pack emergency supplies.
For more information on these and other important hunting safety tips, please visit DEC's website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9186.html