Here is a summary of the 2019 Big Game season.
This includes ADKHunter.com’s in-season hunting reports,
whitetail harvest stats and bear harvest stats.
 

(12/12) Last Call – Part II – The final weekend of the regular season turned out to be a productive one for many Adirondack hunters. In some cases, large groups of does were seen as they begin to yard-up for the winter that lies ahead. But some bucks were taken too, including a few still on the tail of a doe. Now, another season is behind us, but for some, a final weekend of black powder hunting lies ahead. Unfortunately the weather may not cooperate. Another warm-up followed by some rain is in the forecast for much of Saturday and potentially Sunday as well. We’ll see what happens, but you know what they say about keeping your powder dry! I already know of one misfire this week. Good luck out there this final weekend.

(12/4) Last Call, Part I: Dang, it’s been a quick hunting season. That’s what happens when you’re busier than a jackrabbit leading up to it, and then dive in full bore once it’s here. That’s been me this fall, and now I hate to see it end despite the fact I was lucky enough to tag a buck recently. If that’s not enough to make you realize that the late season is the great season, take a look at some of latest buck photos, including several that were taken just since Thanksgiving. On top of that, reports are still coming in of hunters finding fresh rubs, including on top of yesterday’s freshly fallen dusting of snow.

For those hunters who chase their bucks in the interior of the Adirondacks, and/or do not hunt the late muzzleloading season, things will wrap up at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 8. For others, the late muzzleloading season kicks in for another week in the foothills surround the region. Overall, the weekend weather is looking good; a little snow in the southern Adirondacks on Friday followed by cool but seasonable temps the rest of the way. It’s not over until it’s over and you can’t kill a buck, or bear, if you are not out there. Hopefully we’ll see some more photos and hear some more stories following this weekend. Good luck!

(11/27) Happy Thanksgiving: As I write this the Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. If you’re like me and are from a hunting family, then the traditional Thanksgiving hunt is part of the holiday agenda. Our group has done well in recent years on the holiday, sneaking in a few morning deer drives before meeting with the family for dinner and some football.

This year could be very celebratory. The rut remains “on” and if you’ve been in the woods in recent days you’ll know what we’re talking about. Again, nearly every report you hear from a successful hunter is that of a buck almost entirely occupied with a doe. It’s been warm this week, but that’s about to change with a cold front coming through on Thursday with some more seasonal November weather to follow with a snowstorm capping off the weekend. This could be a good one, so I hope you have hunting plans. I do!

(11/20) The Heart of Deer Season: You can tell things are happening in the deer woods right now simply by the amount of success stories you hear. That’s typical for mid-November and by all accounts the game of the rut is on. I spent most of last week in the woods where fresh rubs and scrapes were found both before and after Tuesday’s snow. Nearly every hunter I’ve talked to who took a buck in the past week said it was with a doe. My brother Bill, who is visiting from Arizona, killed a fine six-pointer on Saturday that had a doe pinned on a ledge and would not let her off. Bill was finishing a deer drive and snuck in on the pair for a shot, about 150 yards from where I was on watch (and it was MY birthday!).

For us Adirondack hunters there are four weekends down and three to go. The weather is looking pretty good from now through Thanksgiving. A little rain/snow here and there and mostly seasonal temperatures the rest of the way. We’ll see what happens, but if the forecast hold it could be some classic deer hunting weather. If you have some hunting time this week, all the power to you. Get out there and get it done while the getting is good.

(11/13) Snow-kidding:It looks like the snowstorm that went down earlier this week was not as bad as predicted. In fact, for some of us, it may have been just about right. Ahead of the storm, Nov. 10, was a perfect hunting day and the demise of a number of bucks. Rubs and especially scrapes are becoming more prevalent, as is expected in mid-November and heart of hunting season. After Wednesday’s cold we’re looking at some pretty good hunting weather throughout the weekend and into early next week. This should result in more bucks on the meat-pole. The battle for many becomes wether to head “south” of the Southern Zone opener or stay up north and work on those bucks we’ve been chasing these past few weeks. This hunter is choosing the latter. Good luck, and hunt hard. This is the THE best time of the year for a deer hunter.

(11/5) Mother Nature Strikes Again: Last year it was a big snowstorm (that could happen again), but this year it was the Halloween storm that brought high winds and destructive floodwaters to many parts of the Adirondack region. There’s a good chance if you hunt anywhere remotely, you’ve been impacted in some way, or will be. This storm certainly altered a lot of hunting plans, but it also left people without power and caused some serious property damage.

But deer season goes on and we’re getting into the heart of it. Adirondack bucks continue to be taken, including some good ones. Buck sign is steadily increasing, although the wind-blown leaves may have covered up some scrapes. Another storm could drop some snow on the region Thursday, which is to be followed by a cold snap. So, it should be some good deer hunting weather. If you’re not hunting in mid-November, you’re note hunting. Good luck, and be safe on the roads and in the woods. Most of all, let us know how you do! 

(10/28) Wet Start: Hopefully it’s not déjà vu all over again when comparing this deer season to last. The first three weekends last year saw lots of wet weather. And then, of course, we got dumped on by a huge snowstorm that impacted the second half of the season. After a pleasant opening day we had another downpour on Sunday in the Adirondacks. The good news is that it knocked a lot of leaves off the trees helping to increase visibility in the woods. It’s early yet, as we tend to hear from hunters later in the week, but our initial reports are of plenty of buck sign. Meanwhile some photos did roll in from the early black powder season. Congrats to everyone, including my cousin Floyd Ladd who got fine 4-pointer on opening day. Health issues don’t make things to easy for Floyd and he’s grateful just to be out in the woods, and especially to be able to tag a nice Adirondack buck.

(10/22) Just Getting Started: The first big hunting weekend of the season has passed, and somewhat quietly. Then again, we seemed to hear plenty of shooting, or of plenty of shooting, but few stories to go with those shots. The assumption is that hunters are missing or simply killing does in these areas. It was a fantastic weekend weatherize with some chilly mornings for sure, before things warmed up. Looks to be little more mild this weekend for the rifle opener with some showers in the mix. The big question is what’s out there for buck sign. We’re hearing of a good number of scrapes but very few rubs. Food seems to be plentiful so deer can be hard to come by. Good luck this opening weekend and please check in with some reports.

(10/16) Smokepole Time: It’s the “first” opening day of the Northern Zone big game season. Of course we’re talking about the start of muzzleloading season, which begins Saturday, Oct. 19. Since the advent of the Super Sportsman’s license and the second buck/doe tag (a third doe only tag if you’re a bowhunter) a number of years ago the participation in muzzleloading hunting has skyrocketed in the North Country. So, they’ll be a lot of hunters in the woods.

Leaf cover is quite present but this week’s heavy rains should take care of the leaves in the tops of trees. The underbrush is a different story. The interior of the Adirondacks is further ahead in the foliage department than the outer areas and foothills. Buck sign continues to increase with many hunters reporting the finding of scrapes; more-so than rubs. But, it’s obviously early. Food, and now water, are plentiful.

Be careful this weekend. Keep the visibility factor in mind as well as the fact that in some western Adirondack WMU’s are antlered deer only. Finally, congratulations to all the successful youth hunters out there. We’d like to see more photos come our way. Good luck!

(10/8) Kid Stuff: The Northern Zone archery season is ten days old and as much as that first weekend was full of excitement, it seemed to have settled down a bit despite a cold, crisp weekend of hunting weather that had deer on the move. Social media reports are coming in of plenty of Southern Zone bucks, but no so much in the north. Too bad, because we know they are out there. The hunters that are in the woods are reporting some early scraping activity. Acorns are aplenty in the foothills of the Adirondacks and some hunters in the interior are finding beechnuts. Thanks to the way the calendar falls we have a long early archery (and turkey) season this year, as muzzleloading does not open until the first Saturday after Columbus Day, which is Oct. 19.

And speaking of the holiday weekend, it belongs to the kids and all across New York it will be the youth big game hunt this weekend. Junior hunters ages 14 & 15 had the opportunity to take any deer – buck or doe – as well as a black bear. If your out there with a kid this weekend we’d love to hear about your results. Same for any of you Adirondack hunters pounding the hills with the bow. To learn more about the Youth Hunt, click here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html

(9/30) A Good Start: For the most part it was a warm weekend but opening day of Northern Zone archery season turned out to be a good one. Things are about to change, however, in terms of the weather with some rain and a cool-down in the forecast to start October. Even the slightest temperature change is enough to get the deer moving. We’ve got a long early season this year thanks to the way the dates on the calendar fall. That means another weekend of archery action before the youth season takes place an eventually muzzleloading and the regular big game season(s). Good luck in these early days of deer season.

(9/25) It’s Deer Season: And just like that, summer is over and deer season is here. Friday, Sept. 27 is the traditional opening day of the Northern Zone archery season for deer. While bowhunting in the Adirondacks is not as popular as it is in the Southern Zone, there is legion of bowhunters out there who won’t pass up the early season. It’s a great time to key in a whitetails that are still in their summer habits and simply enjoy the early fall woods.

Things will quickly change regarding whitetail activity once hunting pressure kicks in, but in these early days of hunting the deer should still be keying in on food sources, even during daylight hours. Acorns and beechnuts are out there in spots, some more than others, so there should be some action. Although a tad warm, the weather is also looking good with some cool mornings in the forecast for the weekend. There is some wet weather in next week’s forecast which looks like it will be followed by a serious cool-down. 

Good luck out there this weekend and most of all, be safe. Remember, tree stand accidents remain the most dangerous aspect of deer hunting. We’d love to hear from you not only if you have some luck, but also some of your observations particularly in relation to food sources and an early season buck sign in the Adirondacks. The same goes for bear hunters, and even small game hunter out there enjoying grouse season and youth waterfowl and pheasant hunts this weekend before small game seasons (including Northern Zone turkey season) kick in on Tuesday, Oct. 1. ’Tis the season, enjoy! 

(9/12) Bearly Speaking: Black bear season in the Adirondacks opened quietly this past weekend, Sept. 14. With so much food in the woods it has to be tough for bear hunters to locate their quarry. I you are having some luck, we’d love to hear about it, including a photo. Meanwhile, the grouse opener in the Northern Zone is Friday Sept. 20. Then, of course, Sept. 27 is a regional holiday as the archery opener for deer takes place. There’s also some youth waterfowl and pheasant hunts coming up. Hopefully you’re out there getting stands and blinds ready, doing some scouting, checking or placing trail cameras and shooting your guns and bows. The days are getting shorter and things are happening. It’s the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year! Enjoy.


2019 Deer Harvest Stats

Hunters in New York harvested an estimated 224,190 deer during the 2019-20 hunting seasons, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced. The 2019 estimated deer take includes 103,787 antlerless deer and 120,403 antlered bucks. Statewide, this represents a nine percent decrease in antlerless harvest and a six percent increase in buck harvest from the last season. Regionally, hunters took 30,236 deer in the Northern Zone and 193,954 deer in the Southern Zone. The Northern Zone take is up  from 28,642 in 2018. So is the buck take of 21,459  compared to 19,041 in 2018. 

Across the state, hunters continued to voluntarily pass up young bucks. The portion of yearlings (1.5 years old) in the adult buck harvest dropped to 37 percent, the lowest level ever, and for the first time, harvest of 2.5-year-old bucks (41 percent) exceeded that of yearling bucks, demonstrating that New York hunters are adhering to the DEC campaign, Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow.

In addition, the 2019 season proved favorable for bowhunters, as take during the bowhunting season increased 18 percent from 2018. Deer take during the regular and muzzleloader seasons both dropped about six percent. 

DEC’s 2019 Deer Harvest Summary report provides tables, charts, and maps detailing the deer harvest around the state can be found on DEC’s website.Past harvest summaries are also available on DEC’s website.

2019 Deer Harvest Summary & Comparison

 

2019 Total

2018 Total

Change
(2018 to 2019)

Previous 5-Year Average (2014-2018)

Total Take

224,190

227,787

-1.6%

217,184

Adult Male

120,403

113,385

6.2%

107,274

Adult Female

82,176

80,584

2.0%

78,410

Antlerless

103,787

114,402

-9.3%

109,910

Deer Management Permits Issued

624,612

618,186

1.0%

624,525

Deer Management Permit Take

81,134

89,639

-9.5%

84,575

Deer Management Assistance Program Take

8,257

9,004

-8.3%

10,115

Muzzleloader *

16,944

18,131

-6.5%

15,086

Bowhunting *

51,618

43,832

17.8%

41,472

Crossbow

10,569

10,829

-2.4%

NA

Youth Hunt

1,148

1,025

12.0%

1,105

Harvest Reporting Rate

52.3%

51.4%

 

46.3%

% Older Bucks (≥2.5 years) in Harvest

62.6%

58.8%

 

53.5%

* Values for Muzzleloader and Bow Season Take include deer taken on Bow/Muzz tags and DMPs. 

 

Notable Numbers 

  • 14.4 and 0.6 — number of deer taken per square mile in the units with the highest (WMU 8R) and lowest (WMU 5F) harvest density.
  • 62.6 percent — portion of the adult buck harvest that was 2.5 years or older, the greatest in New York history and up from 40 percent a decade ago, and 30 percent in the 1990s.
  • 65 percent — portion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2019 Youth Deer Hunt.
  • 15,574 — number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC staff in 2019 to determine hunter reporting rate and collect biological data (e.g., age, sex, antler data).
  • 2,658 — deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2019-20; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 54,000 deer for CWD since 2002.

2019 Black Bear Harvest Stats

New York State bear hunters took 1,505 black bears during the 2019 hunting seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

The 2019 bear harvest played out differently across the state. Hunters took a record 1,179 bears in the Southern Zone, while hunters in the Northern Zone took only 326 bears, the fewest since 2011. In part, the great success hunters enjoyed in the Southern Zone was a consequence of below average harvest in 2018 due to early snowfall and early denning by bears that year. Hunters were able to capitalize on the availability of more bears in 2019.

Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season if natural foods are lacking and strong harvests during the regular season if natural foods are abundant. In 2019, soft mast (cherries, berries, and apples) and hard mast (acorns and beech nuts) crops were abundant and hunters were most successful during the regular season, taking 213 bears. Only 64 bears were taken during the early season. Additionally, the overall bear harvest in the Northern Zone generally follows a high-low pattern from year to year, and the 2019 harvest fit that pattern as a low year.

  2019 Total 2018 Total Recent 5-Year Average (2014-2018)
Northern Zone 326 491 498
Southern Zone 1,179 804 1,022
Statewide 1,505 1,295 1,519

Notable Numbers

  • 9: the number of bears harvested per 10 square miles in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 3K, which includes southern Sullivan County and a portion of Orange County. WMU 3K had the greatest bear harvest density of any unit, but the town of Tusten in Sullivan County yielded 4.0 bears for every 10 square miles.
  • 157:the greatest number of bears reported taken on any one day. It happened on November 16 – the opening day of the regular firearms season in the Southern Zone.
  • 643 pounds:the heaviest dressed-weight bear reported to DEC in 2019, taken in the town of Thompson, Sullivan County. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 30 percent of bears taken in 2019.
  • 17:the number of tagged bears reported in the 2019 harvest. These included six bears originally tagged in Pennsylvania, one from Massachusetts, and one from New Jersey. The remainder were originally tagged in New York for a variety of reasons, including research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears.
  • 855:the number of hunter-killed bears from which DEC collected teeth for age analysis in 2019. Hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth for age analysis will receive a 2019 Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch. Results of the age analysis is expected to be available by September 2020.
  • 13 percent:the proportion of bears taken by non-resident hunters. Successful non-resident bear hunters hailed from 19 states.

DEC’s harvest estimates rely on successful hunters reporting their harvest. For more information on game harvest reporting, visit DEC’s website.

A complete summary of the 2019 bear harvest with results and maps by county, town, and WMU is available on DEC’s website.


2019 Hunter Safety Stats

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced  that the 2019 hunting seasons in New York were the safest on record. DEC documented seven tree stand incidents and one fatality in 2019.

Of the 12 Hunting Related Shooting Incidents (HRSIs) that occurred last year, seven were two-party firearm incidents, five were self-inflicted, and one resulted in a fatality. All of these incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed. The one fatal incident was caused by a failure to positively identify the target.

Further examination of the seven two-party firearm incidents reveals that four of the victims involved were not wearing hunter orange, reinforcing the importance of identifying the target and beyond, and wearing hunter orange or pink when afield, two of the major principles of DEC’s hunter safety courses. For more information on hunter safety basics, visit DEC’s website.

New York State has recorded HRSI rates since the 1960s. In 1966, 166 incidents were recorded, 13 of which were fatal. In 2019, 12 incidents were recorded, one of which was fatal. While the number of hunters is declining overall, the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling even faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters in New York has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has declined almost 80 percent. The current five-year average is 1.8 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 hunters in the 1960s.

DEC-trained and certified volunteer instructors teach safe, responsible, and ethical hunting and trapping practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in wildlife conservation. Through more than 60 years of dedicated efforts from Volunteer Hunter Education Program Instructors, an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters and trappers has been developed. All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must successfully complete a hunter or trapper safety course and pass the final exam before being eligible to purchase a hunting or trapping license. All courses are offered free of charge.

In 2017, DEC Commissioner Seggos directed the agency’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) to begin tracking and investigating tree stand injuries for the first time. Tree stand injuries are under-reported and DEC is not always notified when tree stand falls occur. In 2019, seven tree-stand incidents were reported and investigated, none were fatal. All seven incidents involved a hunter who was not wearing a body harness or the harness was not attached to the tree.

Tree stand safety has been integrated as a part of the hunter education course required of first-time hunters in New York. Tree stand incidents are becoming a major cause of hunting-related injuries. The proper use of tree-stands and tree stand safety equipment will help to prevent these injuries and fatalities. Used correctly, a harness keeps the hunter connected from the time they leave the ground to the moment they get back down.