How good was your big-game hunting season?
Throughout the season, and even now, I am hearing the good, the bad and the ugly from many of you about your deer hunting experiences.
If you have followed the Buck Tales reports on this page, you know that there were some very impressive bucks taken from all parts of the state and with all types of firearms and bow and arrows.
Let’s take a look at the 2009 deer and bear harvest statistics released by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The total number of deer harvested in 2009 was 222,798, just 181 deer less than the 2008 harvest. The 2009 adult male harvest of 102,057 was 3,006 less than in 2008, but the antlerless was just the opposite with a take of 120,741 in 2009 and 117,232 in 2008.
Most of the complaints that I have heard have come from hunters in the Northern Zone, and looking at the numbers released by DEC they seem to be justified.
The North Country’s antlerless take (12,185) was down by almost eight percent, and the buck take (16,279) down 21 percent. One of the reasons offered for this decline was the warm weather in November and lack of snow.
In the Southern Zone the number of bucks harvested in 2009 (84,955) compared to 2008 was essentially unchanged. And the 106,622 antlerless harvest was up 4 percent.
To get a true picture of the total deer harvest, let’s look at each zone take, as well as the methods of harvesting.
In the Northern Zone, the total harvest was 28,464. This total included 11,719 with rifle/shotgun, 2.075 bowhunting, 4,553 Deer Management Permit (DMP), muzzleloader, 8,309 and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), 1,808. In the Southern Zone, 58,362 deer were taken with rifle/shotguns, 31,626 bowhunting, 83,220 DMP, 10,464 with muzzleloader and 7,885 DMAP.
In terms of the best deer hunting opportunities, based on deer-harvest densities (total deer per square mile) it should be no surprise that four of the top five are in western New York. These include Yates (13.2), Wyoming (11.2), Orange (10.5), Genesee (9.9) and Ontario (9.9) counties. It is important to note that the total harvest is greatly impacted by the number of DMPs available in an area and directly affects the harvest of antlerless deer.
In terms of buck harvest, the buck density per square mile is a different story. The top five were Wyoming, 4.6; Yates, 4.5; Allegany, 4.0; Orange, 3.9; and Cayuga, 3.7.
With regards to the young hunters, DEC reported that nearly 16,000 14- and 15-year olds-signed up for their junior big-game license. The Junior Mentor Hunting Program requires the youth be accompanied by a licensed parent, legal guardian or person who is 21 years or older, have three years of big game hunting experience and a completed and signed Mentor Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission form. For full details about this program go to www.dec.ny/outdoor/46245.html.
The 2009 bear harvest was the second-highest ever in New York, second only to the 1,864 harvest in 2003. Pete Grannis, DEC commissioner, said this year’s harvest was no surprise, with the state’s bear population growing.
The 2009 black bear harvest was 1,487, compared to 1,295 taken in 2008. This increase was primarily due to the 814 bears taken last year in the Adirondack region, which was a 40 percent increase over 2008. The most productive time for bear hunters in the Adirondack Region in 2009 was the early bear season, which began Sept. 19, and accounted for 50 percent of the bear taken there. The bears, due to a poor production of soft mast such as cherries and berries, were considerably more active searching for food.
The Adirondacks had four counties with significant harvest numbers — St. Lawrence 122, Lewis 119, Franklin 69 and Warren 69.
In the Southeastern (Catskill) region, the three top counties last year were: Ulster 128, Sullivan 106, Delaware 79.