NEW YORK (WENY) – The ‘Holiday Deer Hunt’ is an extension of New York State’s late bow and muzzle loader season, which has been on pause since Dec. 21. The hunt will run the week of Dec. 26 up until New Year’s Day (Jan. 1).
“As part of our ongoing efforts to capitalize on the growing interest in hunting, we’re excited to announce that beginning this December, the Holiday Deer Hunt will provide new opportunities for New Yorkers and visiting hunters to venture afield during a time when families and friends are gathered together for the holidays and students are home on school break,” said Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Despite the extra week now added to the hunting season, the NYSDEC is not expecting a substantial deer harvest during this period. The late bow and muzzle loader season only accounts for 8 percent of the total deer harvest numbers each year.
“We’re talking about hunters using archery equipment: crossbows and muzzle loaders,” said Jeremy Hurst, a big game biologist for NYSDEC. “So there’s fewer hunters that participate this way. Fewer hunters participate generally in the late seasons then they do in the earlier seasons.”
This expanded season is not available in New York’s northern zone as heavy and earlier snow in the north force deer to migrate sooner to their winter grounds, places where deer would be caught off guard by Christmas season hunters.
“We didn’t want to make the season available in those areas where deer would be really vulnerable,” Hurst said.
Early snow and lackadaisical deer are not an issue in the southern hunting zone. Deer across the region are holding a steady and manageable population, so no management efforts had to be taken, such as the management season that takes place around portions of Tompkins County starting Jan. 8.
“If we were looking to make it a management hunt, we would’ve been focused on antler less deer only. That’s not what we’ve done. We’ve made it available for deer of either sex,” Hurst said.
Hunters cannot register for new tags during this week, but hunters can fill any tags that they have leftover from the regular bow and muzzle loader seasons.
Despite the short break deer have received from being hunted, the NYSDEC expects deer will not be easier to find and pursue.
“In areas where hunters have been active, deer are going to have been used to that hunting pressure and they’ve been modifying their own behavior to try to evade hunters. That’s what they do. They don’t want to encounter hunters, as much as we want to encounter them,” said Hurst.
Hunters may have more success on their private lands where deer are not hunted as frequently as deer are on publicly owned hunting grounds.
While the NYSDEC does not expect any major population decreases from this extra week of hunting, their scientists will be monitoring the situation should any major population shifts occur.