Factors such as quality of habitat, winter severity, predation by bears and coyotes, and car-deer collisions, impact deer populations. Hunting, though, is far and away the primary influence on deer numbers across the north country.
DEC utilizes a variety of hunting seasons and permits to control deer numbers so those numbers meet the carrying capacity of a given area and that the number of deer also falls in line with the social expectations of farmers, landowners, motorists, hunters, business people, tourism folks, town leaders, and others.
2011 Deer Take
Last seasons deer take reflects the various seasons and permits that play a role in managing deer numbers across the Northern Zone where the total 2011 kill was 26,814 deer of which 60 percent were adult bucks and 40 percent were antlerless deer. The regular big game season accounted for 12,208 deer or 45.5 percent of the total Northern Zone take; muzzleloaders shot 7,621 deer or 28.4 percent of the total; Deer Management Permits (DMPs) accounted for 3,697 or 13.8 percent of last seasons kill; Deer Management Assistant Permit (DMAP) hunters shot 1,894 or 7.1 percent of the total; and bow hunters arrowed 1,395 deer or 5.2 percent of the 2011 take.
2011 Antlerless Take
Removing adult does from the population plays a critical role in controlling deer numbers and in maintaining a balanced sex-ratio between bucks and does. Hunters can shoot an adult doe when properly licensed and when in possession of an antlerless tag or permit. While antlerless tags and permits are designed as tools for taking adult does, such tags and permits do result in the shooting of buck fawns and female fawns. Of the 2011 total antlerless take in the Northern Zone, 71 percent were adult does while 29 percent were fawns.
Muzzleloaders, DMP holders, DMAP holders, and archers played a role in the last seasons antlerless take. Muzzleloaders accounted for 4,665 antlerless deer or 42.7 percent of the total; DMP holders shot 3,697 antlerless deer of 33.9 percent of the total; DMAP holders harvested 1,815 antlerless deer or 17 percent of the total; and bow hunters arrowed 710 antlerless deer or 6.4 percent of the total.
Northern Zone DMPs
While DMP opportunities abound across the Southern Zone, Northern Zone DMPs are limited to Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6C, 6G, 6H, and 6K. Preference points are required for obtaining a DMP in WMU 6C, and even preference points are no guarantee of being selected for the 1,400 available permits. I had two preference points when I applied for a permit on Friday, but I received a third preference point and no permit.
Odds of receiving a DMP in WMU 6G are high because 9,000 DMPs are being issued there. Applicants in WMU 6H have medium odds of receiving one of the 700 DMPs for that area while applicants in WMU 6K have low odds of being selected for one of the 3,700 permits being issued there.
No WMU 6A DMPs
Two years ago, DEC convened a Citizens Task Force Committee comprised of various stakeholders, and that committee was charged with making a recommendation to increase, to decrease, or to maintain the status quo regarding the deer population in WMU 6A. The task force recommended that DEC increase the WMU 6A deer population by 10 percent. Because hunters take so many antlerless deer in WMU 6A, and to follow through on the task force recommendation to increase deer numbers, no DMPs are being issued in WMU 6A for the 2012 hunting seasons.
Wildlife Management Areas
Restricted portions of three area Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will be open to the public through Aug. 30, and those WMAs are Perch River, Upper and Lower Lakes, and Wilson Hill. This marks the 17th year the areas have been open to the public to afford them the opportunity to visit a variety of natural habitats and view a variety of wildlife. Water fowlers might want to take advantage of the opening to familiarize themselves with hunting areas for the upcoming seasons. All visitors can expect to encounter low-water conditions at each of the WMAs.
Monday: Lisbon Sportsmens Club hosts trap and skeet shooting at Pray Rd. property at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Seaway Valley Chapter QDMA banquet at Casablanca Restaurant, Gouverneur (287-4968).
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday: Hunter Education Course at Adams Center Sportsmans Club (Register at 232-2942 from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.).
Thursday-Saturday: Hunter Education Course at Fort Drum (Register at 772-0053).
Sunday: Bowhunter Education Course at Watertown Sportsmans Club (Register at 785-2533).
Sept. 1: Chippewa Bay F&G Clubs annual corn roast.
Sept. 1: Squirrel season opens in NYS.
Sept. 1-25: Early Canada Goose Season in Northeast Goose Hunting Area.
Sept. 5-6: Bowhunter Education Course at SLV Sportsmens Club (Register at 394-0912).
Sept. 6-8: Hunter Education Course at Fort Drum (Register at 772-0053).
Sept. 7-8: Hunter Education Course at Gouverneur R&G Club (Register at 287-0022).
Sept. 8: Bowhunter Education Course at Massena R&G Club (Register at 769-3205).
Sept. 9-14: Hunter Education Course at New Hope Baptist Church, Watertown (Register at 785-2533)
Sept. 12-13: Hunter Education at Norwood Boces (Register in person at Potsdam Town Offices).
Sept. 12-13: Hunter Education Course at Norwood Boces (Register in person at Potsdam Town Offices).