Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Deer Hunting Season Forecasts

With deer hunting seasons that span four months, vastly different habitat types, and nearly 4 million acres of public land to be explored, New York State offers unique opportunities for hunters to pursue white-tailed deer.

harvested buck with compound bow

2022-23 Deer Hunting Season

For the 2022-23 deer hunting season, we expect another very productive year for deer hunters. Statewide, deer populations benefited from a relatively mild winter and favorable weather conditions during fawning season and early summer. The deer food supply across the state is generally in good condition, though some portions of New York have been dry and gypsy moth caterpillars have taken a toll on forests in portions of the eastern Adirondacks and Finger Lakes, which will impact mast production in those areas.

Statewide, we anticipate the antlered buck harvest this fall will be similar to 2021. Of course, regional variations will occur as deer populations are managed separately within each Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). Yet within WMUs, we anticipate only minor fluctuations in buck harvest from last year, probably unnoticeable to hunters. The exception will be in portions of the Hudson Valley and eastern shore of Lake Ontario most heavily impacted by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease last year. In those areas, buck harvest will likely be reduced, and we also will be issuing fewer Deer Management Permits (DMPs; antlerless tags) which will reduce the doe harvest. Elsewhere, the availability of DMPs varies by location and hunters should consult our table of DMP targets and chances of selection before purchasing their license. We set DMP quotas by reviewing past harvest patterns and population trends relative to desired population trajectories (see Understanding DMPs).

New Hunting Opportunities Continue

2021 was a year of many changes for big game hunting in New York. Harvest data and feedback from hunters revealed the benefits for deer management and hunters, and deer hunters may continue to enjoy these new opportunities in the 2022-23 seasons.

  1. 12- and 13-year old hunters may hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow in counties that passed a local law to participate in the opportunity. See Junior Big Game Hunting for a map of participating counties.
  2. Antlerless-only deer season in mid-September (9/10 - 9/18/2022) using firearms, crossbows, and vertical bows in WMUs 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F, and using only vertical bows in WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C. DMPs and DMAP tags only.
  3. Daily hunting hours for deer and bear extended to 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
  4. Hunters must wear a fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat or vest when hunting deer or bear with a firearm.
  5. Antlerless harvest allowed again during the early muzzleloader season in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6F, 6J.
  6. Holiday Deer Hunt is an extension of the late bow and muzzleloader season from December 26 - January 1 in the Southern Zone. Hunters and other recreationists are encouraged to Share the Snow.
Deer Population Objectives

Because deer can have profound and long-lasting negative impacts on forests and personal property, keeping these impacts at a sustainable level is a top priority of our deer program. DEC determines desired deer population changes using data on public preferences and deer impacts to forests. The process is outlined in detail in Appendix 2 of our Management Plan for White-tailed deer in New York State: 2021-2030 (PDF).

Hunters Enjoying More Older Bucks

let young bucks go and watch them grow
The voluntary choice of hunters to
Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow
is shifting our buck harvest toward older, larger animals.

​Though a mandatory antler point restriction continues in a few WMUs, in the rest of the state where hunters can choose what type of buck they want to harvest, most are choosing older bucks. Based on voluntary choice of hunters, buck harvest has shifted from more than 60% yearlings to about 60% 2.5-year old and older bucks in recent years. Even more pronounced, in several WMUs in southeastern New York without mandatory restrictions, 70-75% of the bucks taken by hunters are now more than or equal to 2.5 years old.

Hunters are Crucial to Protect our Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease

Hunters should take the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) very seriously! CWD is always fatal to deer. If introduced, CWD could spread rapidly and be practically impossible to eliminate once established, threatening the future of New York's deer population, hunting tradition, and many of the other benefits associated with deer. The most effective disease management strategy is to prevent CWD from entering New York. Hunters can help protect New York's deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

  • If you hunt any type of deer, elk, moose, or caribou outside of New York, debone your animal before bringing it back, and follow the law about importing carcass parts from outside of New York. See CWD Regulations for Hunters. DEC will confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts.
  • Avoid natural deer urine products. Prions (abnormal proteins) are shed in the bodily fluids (saliva, feces, urine) of infected deer before they appear sick. Prions bind to soil and plants where they remain infectious for years. There is no way to ensure that urine products are free of prions. Choose synthetic alternatives.
  • Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.
  • Report any deer that appears sick or acting abnormally.

Help Make Deer Management Successful

Report your harvest. It's important for deer management and it's the law. Hunters are the only source of two critical pieces of harvest information - when and where deer are taken. These data are used, together with reporting rates, to estimate the number of deer harvested in each Wildlife Management Unit throughout the State. In 2021, 49% of successful deer hunters reported their harvest. New York hunters can improve the quality of data that DEC deer managers use by following through on all of their harvest responsibility to Take It · Tag It · Report It.

Make the most of your hunting by helping DEC track deer and other wildlife populations. If you are a bowhunter, we welcome your participation in the Bowhunter Sighting Log. Keep a diary of your bowhunting activity and the number of animals you see for your records and ours. You can also become an AVID (leaves DEC website) volunteer by collecting information about how deer are impacting the woodlands in which you hunt. These data will help our biologists ensure deer populations are being managed at levels that encourage healthy and sustainable forests.

Use Non-Lead Ammunition - It's Better for Wildlife and Better for You

When lead and lead-core bullets strike a deer, hundreds of tiny lead particles scatter throughout the tissue-up to 18 inches from the wound. Some of these fragments are too small to be seen, felt, tasted, or removed. These lead particles can ruin the quality and yield of game meat and pose a risk to human consumers and scavenging animals. DEC encourages deer hunters to use alternative non-lead ammunition (see Ammunition: Non-lead or Lead?).

Find a Place to Hunt

Hunters seeking solitude and freedom to cover lots of ground will enjoy the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York and the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York, which offer thousands of square miles of wilderness hunting. Hunters who want to maximize their success should explore the western Finger Lakes Region or seek access to hunt public or private lands in and surrounding various suburban areas throughout the state. For hunters seeking the greatest prospects for large-antlered bucks, the Lake Ontario Plains of western New York is a good option. Finally, for hunters seeking to extend their time afield, deer hunting runs through the end of December in Westchester County (bowhunting only) and through January in Suffolk County.

Additionally, you may find the following links helpful for your planning:

Good luck hunting this fall and enjoy your time afield in the Empire State.