Hunters harvested an estimated 202,973 deer during the 2015-16 hunting seasons, approximately 15% less than the prior year. In the Northern Zone 23,589 deer were taken compared to 29,075 in 2014; a roughly 19% decrease.
The 2015 deer take included an estimated 103,401 antlerless deer and 99,572 antlered bucks. Statewide, this represents a 20.5% decline in antlerless deer harvest and an 8.3% decline in buck harvest from 2014. Over half of the bucks harvested in 2015 were aged 2.5 years and older, continuing a shift towards older bucks in the harvest. In most of the state, hunters are making this happen by their own voluntary decisions to pass up young, small-antlered bucks in favor of older deer.
With the severe winter of 2014-15 and a reduction in the number of permits available for antlerless deer in most Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), a decline in deer harvest was anticipated. However, overall deer harvest was lower than expected, as hunting success was apparently also reduced by the unseasonably warm conditions and lack of snow during much of November and December. In fact, harvest reports were tracking on par with 2014 levels through early November, then started lagging behind 2014 once the regular firearms seasons began.
As usual, deer harvests and populations vary considerably across the state, and in approximately 25% of New York, the 2015 harvest suggests that deer populations were unchanged or increased from prior years. Additionally, harvest data indicate that deer populations in portions of central New York, the Finger Lakes and the Lake Plains of western New York remain above desired levels and further population reduction is necessary.
DEC’s 2015 Deer Harvest Summary report (PDF, 4.5MB) provides a suite of tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state.
Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters, and DEC staff’s examination of nearly 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 2015-16 deer harvest, as well as past deer and bear harvest summaries, is available at Deer and Bear Harvests.