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DEC announces 2022 deer harvest estimates


Tue, May 2nd 2023 04:35 pm

New York hunters harvested more than 231,000 deer

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Press Release

Hunters in New York harvested an estimated 231,961 deer during the 2022 hunting seasons, a 10% increase from last year, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced.

“DEC established several new deer hunting opportunities in 2021, and hunters took greater advantage of these opportunities during the 2022 season, including another safe, successful youth hunt,” Seggos said. “Increased hunter success, combined with recovering deer populations, contributed to an overall increase in total deer harvest.”

The 2022-23 estimated deer take included 116,425 antlered bucks and 115,536 antlerless deer. Statewide, this represents a 5% increase in antlered buck harvest and a 15% increase in antlerless deer harvest from last season. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) affected areas of the Hudson Valley and eastern shores of Lake Ontario in 2020 and 2021, resulting in reduced deer hunting success in these areas. Increases in buck harvest, which DEC tracks as an index of deer population abundance, during the 2022-23 seasons indicate that deer populations in affected areas are recovering.

Hunters also took greater advantage of several new deer hunting opportunities established in 2021. More than 2,000 antlerless deer were taken during the mid-September antlerless-only season. This is a 9% increase from 2021. This season was established to increase harvest of antlerless deer in wildlife management units (WMUs) where deer populations need to be reduced based on DEC’s deer population objectives.

Nearly 2,300 deer, a 38% increase from 2021, were harvested by youth hunters during the youth hunt weekend. The increase was due in part to increased success of 12- and 13-year-old hunters participating in the second year of a pilot program established by the State Legislature that allows hunters aged 12-13 to hunt deer with a firearm. A summary report of deer hunting by 12- and 13-year-old hunters in 2022 is available on DEC’s website.

Lastly, Southern Zone hunters expanded their participation in the holiday deer hunt, a second portion of the late bow and muzzleloader season that spans from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, designed to provide additional hunting opportunity when students are on school break and families are gathered for the holidays. Nearly 4,000 deer, representing an 11% increase from 2021, were harvested during the 2021-22 holiday hunt. Young hunters also reported taking more deer during the holiday deer hunt than during the traditional portion of the late bow and muzzleloader season.

Across the state, hunters continued to voluntarily pass up young bucks, and about 64% of the antlered bucks harvested were 2.5 years old or older. DEC’s “Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow” educational campaign promotes individual choice and voluntary restraint to shift the age composition of bucks harvested in New York state toward older age classes, while still providing hunters the freedom to harvest any buck they desire. Since the campaign’s implementation, DEC has documented a steady increase in the proportion of bucks harvested by hunters that are 2.5 years old or older.

Notable Numbers

√ 16.6 and 0.6 – number of deer taken per square mile in the units with the highest (WMU 8R) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.

√ 64% – portion of the adult buck harvest that was 2.5 years or older statewide, up from 45% a decade ago, and 30% in the 1990s.

√ 46.4% – portion of successful deer hunters who reported harvest as required by law. This is below the five-year average of 49.3%.

√ 13,568 – number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2022 to determine hunter reporting rate and collect biological data (e.g., age, sex, antler characteristics).

√ 2,727 – deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in 2022-23; none tested positive. DEC has tested 63,012 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 harvested deer at meat processors and check stations across the state. 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. DEC’s 2022 deer harvest summary report provides tables, charts and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state and can be found on DEC’s website. Past harvest summaries are also available on DEC’s website.

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