At the end of my Nov. 27, article, I wrote about the feedback I was receiving from deer hunters. I discussed the talk from folks interested in a shorter deer season and other problematic issues, as well. Below, you'll find some interesting feedback from readers who emailed me their opinions.
The overwhelming response centered on how our Northern Zone deer season is far too long and how the state should begin treating our whitetail population as a resource instead of a nuisance.
With proper (state) management, New York could easily have quality deer that would rival that of states and provinces like Kansas, Wisconsin, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Here's a sampling of responses:
W.B. - "Regarding a shorter season — it is only one of the problems, the number one problem being the DEC. They are issuing doe permits and nuisance permits by the thousands. The season definitely is too long! My 50 years of experience tell me that archery, black powder and regular season should be combined as "one" for the month of November ONLY! No early bear, no early archery, no early black powder, and no late black powder."
I.P. - "Should the hunting season be shorter? My emphatic answer is NO! Some of us have to work 6 days a week. Sunday morning is reserved for church. This only leaves Sunday afternoons to hunt. If it is shorter, some of us will have to stop buying a license. The longer season may put pressure on a herd, but the numbers of deer do not reflect that pressure is harmful. The hunter has to get a little smarter. Get off the edge of the field, stop driving out to the same old stand on your four wheeler, and start hunting."
B.R. - "I was delighted to learn that others share the same concern I have with the length of our deer season. I currently manage an intense QDM program on my family's 1500 acres. This is our sixth year in the program and we have sure had our share of bumps along the way, but we work through them and find ways around them and it has been a great success. One of the biggest problems we are encountering still though is the length of the gun season. With heavy hunting pressure on neighboring land it just seems like it's only a matter before the majority of those young adolescent bucks make that fatal mistake and step across the line. It's more than likely a common problem other QDM managers face especially here in the north country. We try to play the game of odds, letting as many yearlings and 2-year-olds go, hoping that at least a small percentage will make it to at least 3.5 years. It sometimes seems we're fighting an uphill battle with a season spanning nearly 2.5 months. As N.Y. takes its inevitable turn toward some type of QDM, they really need to consider changing our season. Take some tips from some of the great whitetail states of the Midwest — a two-week gun season is all you get in most of them. New York has the potential to be a great whitetail state, we have been on the verge for some years now, but we will continue to be only on the verge unless some initiatives are taken."
T.N. - "Stop this crying for a shorter hunting season. Most hunters work all week and only hunt on the weekends so this means that our season is only 15 to 20 days long and that's only if you have all of the weekends free. Also remember that the older hunters don't hunt every day and the number of hunters has dropped."
F.H. - "As for our season, I feel it is way too long. I feel our hunting season could be cut to 2 or 3 weeks in November. As a deer hunter, there is too much pressure put on our herd. Also the deer numbers are still way down from the permits that were given out over the last 4 to 5 years."
D.B. - "It's unfortunate that most hunters are looking for deer with big racks. There is a large overpopulation of doe in the Cape Vincent area. They cause a lot of damage including car accidents."
J.M. - "I am in total agreement that our deer season is too long. A large number of young bucks are removed before the active rut every starts, thus compounding the somewhat skewed buck/doe ratio. Another problem is this early muzzleloader season where "brown is down." A large percentage of these antlerless deer taken are button bucks. It also amazes me at the number of so called "seasoned" hunters who cannot tell the difference between an adult, yearling or fawn. Many do not even care. I can recall the days when just seeing a deer track in the valley was front page news. This outright slaughter must top now. Our state deer "mis" managers now have a golden opportunity at their fingertips, which of course, I am sure they will let slip by, to have a deer hunting opportunity to rival anywhere in the country. My plan would be: antler restrictions, shorter regular season, and elimination of the early muzzleloader season. Rebuild the herd to optimum levels with a more balanced ratio. Issue DMP's when needed, not every year. As far as I am concerned, the only numbers DEC wants come with dollar signs in front of them. I have much more to say, but I am sure you have already heard it all before. Topics include: Amish problem, destroy permits, DMAP abuse, late after-hours shooting, tagging with Uncle Bubba's and Grandma's tags, new licensing structure where everyone has a fistful of tags (I know of many who took the bowhunting course for the sole purpose of getting an extra tag for muzzleloader season)."
K.Z. - "In response to the length of deer season, it is too long. I am an avid deer hunter. Seems in our area the last week is when a lot of deer get killed. Sad part is most get killed on bait piles. I know this is illegal, but seems the DEC turns the other way. I know since I have complained personally. Also how can we get rid of this last week of muzzle season? It is stupid. Most hunters I see are the ones that have already killed 5 or 6 deer. New York State complains about selling fewer licenses, if they don't stop the farmer's permits I think we all should quit buying them. How sad: I won 300 acres of woods surrounded by farm land, and because of permits, my herd is wiped out."
G.S. Jr. - "As an avid hunter, hunting exclusively in the Town of Parishville, I feel the season is excessively long. I've talked with many legitimate, law-abiding hunters who would prefer a shorter season — say something like the month of November for the regular season, with no late muzzleloader season. The nonresident hunters will probably disagree, as will the guy who is driving around all season filling every tag (out the truck window). The DEC has fully exploited the deer resource with such a long season. I'm surprised any survive to the next season at all. Knocking a couple of weeks off the season would also help our local conservation officers who are stretched thin and restricted by budget concerns by the Department. (During hunting season, anyway). There is a great deal of support for quality deer management (QDM) around the county. I would like to see the DEC impose an antler restriction in a couple of units for a few years and see what happens. I was told by a DEC official in Watertown last year that this "may" happen in four or five years. Why four or five years? Changing the muzzleloader season from does only to either sex in unit 6C happened with the stroke of a pen, as did adding the late muzzleloading season. It seems that anything goes — as long as it is geared to further decreasing the deer population."
D.N. - "I would like to see New York have some State Land with either strict QDM or bow only. Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin and several other top whitetail states have these areas and even go as far as planting food plots for the wildlife in these areas. One of the things I believe has affected the declining number of deer is the very long gun season. Our long gun season is a fall-over from the old Adirondack days when the deer population was very low and hunters were few in number. If you combine muzzleloading (no longer a primitive weapon) season and the regular gun season, that makes for a total of 58 days afield. I did a recent search of all 50 states and their length of gun and muzzleloading seasons. We have the third longest gun season, with only Texas and Alabama (longer by) a few more days. Does our deer herd in Unit 6A compare to these states? Not even close. Couple the long season with many of this area's hunters' (if it's brown, it's down) theory makes for not only too large a harvest quota but dangerous, as well. It is time the NYS DEC starts viewing the whitetail deer as a resource, not a nuisance."