Steuben County was deer hunter heaven in 2016.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released the 2016 deer harvest estimates this week, and no New York county had a higher number of deer taken than in Steuben.
Overall, hunters in New York State harvested an estimated 213,061 deer during the 2016-17 hunting seasons, an estimated five percent increase over 2015-16 levels.
“Deer hunting in New York is a proud and economically important tradition that is safely enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors each year,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Not only is deer hunting important for providing high quality local protein to families, it is an essential conservation tool that helps reduce negative ecological impacts of deer on forests, farms and communities throughout the state.”
Steuben County hunters harvested a state-high 9,729 deer, including 5,025 adult buck. The biggest hot spot was in rural Woodhull, with 616 deer harvested (306). Bath had the most buck taken, 327, and 554 total. Other towns with high harvest numbers included Troupsburg (208 adult buck-489 total take), Howard (275-489) and Canisteo (216-457).
Allegany County also ranked among the state's leaders for deer harvest, with a total take of 6,845 (3,833 buck). Andover had the highest overall take with 438 (169 buck). Other towns with high harvest numbers included Hume (190-431), Allen (231-330), Centerville (133-326) and Belfast (185-322).
The 2016 deer take included 106,055 antlerless deer and 107,006 antlered bucks. Statewide, this represents a 7.5-percent increase in buck harvest from 2015, reflecting modest population growth following the losses experienced during the harsh winter of 2014-15. Antlerless harvest was similar to 2015 (a 2.6-percent increase), as managers sought increased antlerless harvests in certain parts of the state and reduced harvests in others.
Regionally, hunters in the Northern Zone took 24,674 deer, including 16,495 adult bucks. In the Southern Zone, hunters took 188,387 deer, including 90,511 adult bucks.
Last year, DEC kicked off a campaign to encourage hunters to voluntarily pass up shots at young bucks in an effort to grow the population of larger bucks across the state. In areas where hunters had the freedom to choose what type of buck to take, nearly half of the adult bucks taken this past year were 2.5 years or older. Yearling bucks were plentiful, a result of strong survival rates through the 2015-16 winter, yet many hunters voluntarily chose restraint.
“It’s clear that DEC’s public education programs are yielding success, as more hunters are heeding our advice to ‘let young bucks go to watch them grow’ providing all hunters the opportunity to see and take larger, more mature bucks,” said Commissioner Seggos.
DEC also confirmed that bucks of all ages across the state were in good condition, with larger antlers, more mass, and fewer spike-antlered bucks.
· 54,099 - estimated number of bucks taken in 2016 that were 2.5 years old or older. Only 49 percent of bucks taken statewide were yearlings (54 percent in units without mandatory antler restrictions).
· 16.2 and 0.5 - number of deer taken per square mile in the unit with the highest (WMU 8N) and lowest (WMUs 5C and 5F) harvest density.
· 65 percent - proportion of eligible junior hunters that participated in the 2016 Youth Deer Hunt.
· 14,085 - number of hunter-harvested deer checked by DEC in 2016.
· 186,110 - number of hunting hours recorded by 3,805 bowhunters that participated in the annual Bowhunter Sighting Log. Participating bowhunters reported 120,067 deer sightings, for an average of 64.5 deer seen per 100 hours hunted. The Bowhunter Sighting Log provides useful data on regional sighting trends for deer, moose, turkey, and a variety of furbearer species.
· 2,447 - deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in 2016-17; none tested positive. DEC has tested more than 40,000 deer for CWD since 2002.
· 56.5 percent - proportion of successful deer hunters that ignored their responsibility to report their harvest as required by law. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) have increased enforcement of non-compliance with the mandatory reporting requirements.
Deer harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful hunters and DEC’s examination of more than 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.