The Two Most Important Things New York Hunters Can Do to Improve Deer Management

DEC often receives and responds to recommendations from hunters on how to improve deer management and hunting opportunities in New York. However, data collected and tracked by DEC indicates that hunters often overlook or do not participate in the two simplest and most important ways that they can directly improve deer management:

  1. harvesting antlerless deer;
  2. and reporting all the deer they harvest.

In 2022, only 12% of deer hunters harvested one antlerless deer, and only 4% of hunters harvested 2 or more antlerless deer. Whether by choice or circumstance, 84% of hunters didn’t harvest any antlerless deer, despite antlerless deer being the most abundant and commonly observed portion of the deer population. Further, in 2022, only 46% of hunters reported the deer that they harvested, the second lowest reporting rate DEC has documented over the previous 5 years.

Ensuring sufficient harvest of antlerless deer and deer harvest reporting are the backbone of DEC’s deer management program. DEC adjusts the number of Deer Management Permits (i.e., antlerless deer tags) available to hunters in each wildlife management unit to ensure deer populations remain in balance with available habitat and do not exceed levels of public acceptance that can lead to increased crop damage, deer-vehicle collisions, and other deer-related impacts. Harvest reporting by hunters allows DEC to accurately estimate the number of deer harvested as well as track the age and sex distribution of the deer harvest each season. This information greatly informs DEC’s deer management planning and decisions the following year. It’s a virtuous cycle that relies heavily on hunters’ willingness to participate and meet their moral and legal obligations as stewards of New York’s shared white-tailed deer resource.

DEC recently published an educational video that provides an overview of how DEC uses hunter harvest reports to estimate the annual deer and bear harvests. Watch the video on DEC's YouTube Channel.

By harvesting antlerless deer and reporting every deer harvested you play a critical role in deer management and help inform DEC’s future deer management decisions. Take at least one antlerless deer this season if given the opportunity and report all of your deer harvests through DEC’s website, the HuntFish NY mobile app., or by calling 1-866-426-3778.

Submitted by Yorktown, NY

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