Deer Hunting Season Forecasts
NYS Deer Forecast - 2012
2012 should be another good year for deer hunters in New York. With an exceptionally mild winter throughout the state and a slight increase in Deer Management Permits (DMPs, "doe tags"), hunters should have good prospects to see and hopefully take a few more deer this year.
Richard B. Smith Jr., age 15,
1st deer, Delaware
County, with his dad Richard Smith.
New York hunters took roughly 230,000 deer in 2010 and 2011, and we anticipate the total deer harvest will increase slightly in 2012. With deer populations above objective levels in much of central and western New York, we want to maintain substantial harvest pressure on antlerless deer in these areas. In other regions, such as portions of southwestern New York, the Catskill mountains, and eastern New York, deer populations are slightly below or near target levels. We are seeing signs of population growth in many of these areas and have adjusted our DMP allocations accordingly, managing for continued modest growth in some areas or population stability in others.
DEC issues DMPs to control antlerless harvest and move the population closer toward objective levels in each Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). The target DMP allocation for 2012 varies by unit depending on the management objective, but overall we intend to issue about 10-12% more DMPs than in 2011. In addition to the Adirondack and Tug Hill units where DMPs are not authorized, WMUs 3A, 4L, 4U, 4Z and 6A will not have DMPs in 2012. See Understanding DMPs for a description of how DMP targets are set and permits are issued, and DMP Availability and Probability of Selection for a chart listing the chances of being selected for a DMP in each WMU.
New York has a great diversity of options for deer hunters, with vastly different habitat types, an array of public hunting lands, and deer hunting opportunities that span four months. For hunters seeking solitude and freedom to cover lots of ground, the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York and Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York offer thousands of square miles of wilderness hunting. For hunters seeking to maximize their success, the highest harvest densities routinely occur throughout western New York, but great opportunities also exist in many suburban areas. For hunters seeking the greatest prospects for large antlered deer, the lake plains portion of western New York is a good option. For hunters seeking to extend their time afield, deer hunting runs through the end of December in Westchester County (bowhunting only), and Suffolk County's special firearms season continues on weekdays through January.
As you prepare for the 2012-13 hunting seasons...
- Be aware of several changes:
- The Southern Zone bowhunting season and the regular season in Westchester County (bowhunting only) begin on October 1. See Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons.
- A late bowhunting season will run concurrent with the late muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone.
- The Northern Zone regular season will now begin on the 2nd Saturday after Columbus Day each year (October 20, 2012 this season).
- DMPs may now be used in all seasons in the Northern Zone. DMPs are only issued for a few Northern Zone WMUs, and they may only be used in the WMU for which they are issued.
- Mandatory antler restrictions (3 points on one side minimum) are now in effect in WMUs 3A, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W during all seasons for all hunters 17 years and older. Mandatory antler restrictions also remain in effect in WMUs 3C, 3H, 3J, and 3K. See Antler Restrictions in New York for details.
- All of Suffolk County will be open for the special January firearms season, subject to local discharge ordinances.
- A Deer Management Focus Area in central Tompkins County will intensify use of hunting to assist communities in the Ithaca area with the burden of overabundant deer populations.
- Bear hunting seasons will run concurrently with the newly adjusted deer seasons. See Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons.
- New legislation now allows use of rifles for big game hunting in Cayuga County. See Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas for other areas where rifles can be used during the regular deer and bear seasons.
- Consider being a mentor for a young hunter. Shared experience with family and friends is one of the most cherished aspects of hunting. We encourage you to share that heritage with a young person in your life. With a mentor, junior hunters (ages 12-15) can hunt for big game with a bow and 14-15 year olds can hunt big game with a firearm. Additionally, unlicensed persons of any age can accompany you while you hunt, as long as they don't participate in the hunt. More details are available in the 2012-2013 NYS Hunting and Trapping Guide and at the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program page.
- Consider voluntary protection of young bucks. With such a mild winter this past year, we expect over-winter fawn survival was exceptionally strong and anticipate that hunters may see a few more yearling (1.5 year old) bucks afield this fall. Through most of New York, hunters can take a buck of any age, but an increasing number of hunters are voluntarily choosing not to take young, small-antlered bucks. We encourage hunters who are interested in seeing and taking older, larger bucks to consider working with local hunting clubs and neighboring landowners to cooperatively and voluntarily reduce their harvest of young bucks. See Voluntary Antler Restrictions - An Option to Consider for more information.
- Bowhunters may like to participate in the Bowhunter Sighting Log by keeping a diary of your bowhunting activity and number of animals you see. These data help DEC track deer and other wildlife populations. We could use more bowhunter participation in many northern, eastern, and southeastern counties and in Westchester and Suffolk counties. To participate, please e-mail us and provide your name, address, hunter ID (back tag number), a list of the counties where you hunt, and whether or not you have participated in New York's bowhunter log in any previous year.
- Remember, Hunger Has A Cure ... The Venison Donation Program (link leaves DEC website) is a great way to help those less fortunate while also assisting with deer management in New York. With 120 cooperating venison processors in 50 counties, there are many outlets for you to donate a harvested deer. You can also donate a dollar or more anywhere licenses are sold - just tell the clerk you want to support Venison Donation. To locate cooperating processors or for more information on the Venison Donation Program, pick up a brochure when you purchase your license.
Have a safe, successful and enjoyable hunt in the Empire State.
Big Game Biologist
To help you choose your hunting locations, each Regional Deer Biologist has prepared a summary for their respective WMUs. Select the report from the list below for your desired portion of the state, and you will be able to view a unit-by-unit forecast for the upcoming season. You may also be interested in deer hunting seasons, deer hunting regulations, rifle and shotgun areas for the regular season, past deer harvest reports, and DEC's Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, 2012-2016.
Long Island, Hudson Valley and Southern Catskills - DEC Regions 1 and 3 (PDF, 666 kB)
Capital Region and Northern Catskills - DEC Region 4 (PDF, 744 kB)
Eastern Adirondacks - DEC Region 5 (PDF, 588 kB)
Western Adirondacks - DEC Region 6 (PDF, 593 kB)
Central New York - DEC Region 7 (PDF, 594 kB)
Western Finger Lakes - DEC Region 8 (PDF, 965 kB)
Western New York - DEC Region 9 (PDF, 737 kB)