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DEC Announces 2017 Deer Harvest Results

Hunters in New York State enjoyed another successful year, harvesting an estimated 203,427 deer during the 2017-18 hunting seasons Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

“Deer hunting in New York is a cherished and economically important tradition safely enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors each year,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Through the careful work of our conservation experts, hunting is a sound wildlife management tool that benefits all New Yorkers by reducing negative impacts of deer on forests, communities, and crops while providing millions of pounds of high quality local meat to families throughout the state. I commend our staff for once again making this a safe and successful season.”

The 2017 estimated deer take included 95,623 antlerless deer and 107,804 antlered bucks, an estimated five percent fewer deer than the previous year. Statewide, this represents a 10-percent decline in antlerless harvest and a buck harvest nearly identical to 2016. Hunters in the Northern Zone took 25,351 deer, including 18,074 adult bucks. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 178,076 deer, including 89,730 adult bucks.

The decline in antlerless harvest occurred despite DEC issuing more antlerless permits last season. DEC wildlife biologists have noted two important and encouraging items that emerged from the 2017 deer harvest. First, with 53.3 percent of the adult buck harvest averaging 2.5 years or older, hunters took an estimated 57,494 older bucks, setting a record in total number and greatest percentage of older bucks in the harvest.

“This is great news for New York hunters,” Seggos said. “Many hunters are choosing to voluntarily Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow, and all hunters are now having greater opportunity to see and take older, larger bucks.”

Second, the portion of successful hunters who reported their harvest as required by state law increased from 44 percent in recent years to 50 percent in 2017. Along with our Take It · Tag It · Report It campaign, DEC has made the process of harvest reporting substantially easier for hunters, providing phone, internet, and mobile app options. Harvest reports are critically important for accurate monitoring of deer harvests, and DEC encourages hunters to continue to contribute to the management process by complying with the reporting requirements.

DEC’s 2017 Deer Harvest Summary report (http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/2017deerrpt.pdf PDF, 6.31 MB) provides a suite of tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state. Past deer harvest summaries are available on DEC’s website.

Notable Numbers

14.5 and 0.5 — number of deer taken per square mile in the unit with the highest (WMU 8N) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.
46.7 percent — portion of the adult buck harvest that were yearlings (1.5 years old), the lowest in New York history and down from 62 percent a decade ago and 70 percent in the 1990s. Excluding units with mandatory antler restrictions, 50.9 percent of the adult buck harvest were yearlings, still the lowest percentage on record.
65 percent — portion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2016 Youth Deer Hunt.
14,372 — number of hunter harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2017.
2,402 — deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2017-18; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 50,000 deer for CWD since 2002.

Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC’s examination of more than 14,000 harvested deer at check stations and meat processors. Statewide harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and calculating the total harvest from the reporting rate for each zone and tag type. A full report of the 2017-18 deer harvest, as well as past deer and bear harvest summaries, is available at Deer and Bear Harvests.