New York deer harvest

Here are five things to think about when reviewing the New York deer harvest report for 2018.

When the New York deer hunting season finally rolls around, we here in the Empire State are just as excited as anyone across the United States to be a part of the annual harvest.

With the New York Department of Environmental Conservation whitetail deer report now viewable by the hunting public, deer management and wildlife management become one and the same thing.

Between antlerless harvest reporting and the count for antlered bucks in each wildlife management unit, the deer take across firearms season to muzzleloader season–including bowhunting–makes big game hunting in New York some of the best in the USA.

From the northern zone to the southern zone, hunters across the state did a great job of counting their “catch” and reported it thusly to the state DEC. Now that the numbers are in, here are a few thoughts as to what happened, and what it means for the future of the whitetail hunt in this awesome northeastern state.

1. Buck take increased from 2017

New York deer harvest

The buck harvest increased for hunters to the tune of 113,385 antlered bucks against the 107,804 taken in 2017, for an increase of 5,581. The report indicated that hunters in the northern zone took 14% more total deer this past season, and hunters in the southern zone took 11% more as well.

2. Antlerless deer hunting is great

New York deer harvest

The doe harvest was listed as 80,584, up almost 13,000 from 2017. With plenty of permits available in most Management Units, and some areas offering leftover tags, filling your freezer in New York gets more and more consistent every year.

3. NY hunters consistently take well over 200,000 deer every year

Not since the 2005 and the 2006 deer hunting seasons have hunters in NY taken less than 200,000 deer in the state. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1995 to see numbers below that mark. Between the 2000 and the 2003 seasons, almost 1.2 million deer were taken in the Empire State, with a high of 308,216 in 2003.

4. Late bow and muzzleloader seasons equal success

New York deer harvest

The DEC stated that, “Through the final weekend of the Southern Zone late bow and muzzleloader season, hunters reported 94,515 deer in 2018, compared to 85,288 and 75,073 through the same period in 2017 and 2016, respectively. Similarly, in the Northern Zone, hunters have reported 14,458 deer in 2018, compared to 12,687 in 2017, and 10,894 in 2016.”

Hunters would go on to take 18,131 deer after the season was “over” for most!

5. No new cases of CWD

Since 2005, when five captive deer were tested positive for CWD in New York–the first case recorded and confirmed in five whitetail deer from two captive breeding facilities in Oneida County–the state has not since seen the dreaded disease pop up again in its deer herd.

With more than 31,000 wild whitetail deer tested statewide from 2002 through 2010, the state has nonetheless continued to monitor the situation with impunity.

New York State has one of the most consistent and large deer populations in the northeast. Deer hunters last year, following NYSDEC guidelines, shot more antlerless deer and saw a big percent increase last season.

With Chronic Wasting Disease on its radar and the chance for older bucks getting better and better, things are pointed in a good direction. In fact, the 2018 license year saw even DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos score and report his harvest.

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