Thousands of local hunters will take to the woods and fields of Chautauqua County in an effort to bag a Whitetail Deer. Officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation say deer hunting has changed in New York over the years and a slightlyhigher harvest is expected. Officials say the impact of harsh winters in 2013 and 2014 is now being felt. The expect a slightly larger harvest in a few years because the last two winters were relatively mild.
“Deer hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks. As a result, hunters are now taking more older bucks than ever before. That’s good news for New York hunters and their families, because the average 2-year old buck generally yields 25-30% more meat and carries antlers twice as large as the average yearling,” state DEC officials said.
DEC officials are urging hunters to avoid shooting yearlings in an effort to strengthen and improve the herd.
Hunters are required by law to report their kills so DEC biologists can record where and when the deer were harvested. Officials said only about 45 percent of all hunters record and report their harvests.
Also, to improve the hunt, DEC officials encourage older, more experienced hunters to introduce hunting to the next generation of woodsman.
“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,” officials said.
“New York has some of the best hunting opportunities in the nation, and our ongoing conservation efforts and hunter safety programs are providing ample opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy all New York has to offer,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Deer and bear hunting is also an important tool for New Yorkers to assist our wildlife management efforts and critical for controlling populations especially in areas and habitats where deer overabundance are causing ecological damage. The opening of the Southern Zone regular season is a cherished tradition for many families, drawing friends and relatives together for a weekend afield. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”
The 2017 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise Saturday and run through Sunday, Dec. 10. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season; approximately 85 percent of New York’s 575,000 licensed hunters participate. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and between 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.
Hunter safety is the most successful part of the outing, Seggos explained.
“While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable,” Seggos said.
He noted that the mandatory hunter safety course teaches hunters to always point their gun in a safe direction, treat all guns as if they are loaded, have all shooters be sure of their target and beyond and to keep their finger off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.
DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot. When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.