A statewide deer hunter survey that will help determine future deer regulations is currently underway.
The survey is being conducted by the Human Dimensions Research Unit at Cornell University for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In mid-October, Cornell University staff mailed questionnaires to 7,000 big-game license holders, who were randomly chosen. Results of the survey will be used in 2014 when the DEC evaluates a variety of buck harvest strategies.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is currently sponsoring a statewide survey of deer hunters to help guide future management decisions.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The basic elements of this approach were discussed in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 hunting and trapping guides, and are discussed further at the "buck harvest management" page on the DEC website.
DEC staff will consider survey results along with deer population management needs across various regions of the state as a basis for possible regulation changes for fall 2015.
During the development of the 2012-2016 deer management plan for New York, some hunters expressed strong interest in modifying hunting regulations to allow more bucks to live to older ages and develop heavier bodies with larger antlers.
As a result of that input, one of the objectives in DEC's current deer management plan is to "encourage various strategies to reduce harvest of young (1.5-year-old) bucks in accordance with hunter desires."
In addition to hunters voluntarily deciding not to shoot young bucks, managers could enact a variety of regulations to reduce harvest of young bucks, all of which involve tradeoffs for hunters.
For example, depending on the action taken to reduce harvest of young bucks, hunters may have to give up some freedom to shoot a buck of any age or size, or give up some opportunity to hunt bucks.
DEC needs current information on hunters' views to understand how different buck harvest strategies may by viewed by those hunters.
DEC encourages all hunters who receive a questionnaire to complete and return it promptly. DEC requests to hear from every hunter in the sample, regardless of whether they went afield or took a deer last year.
To maintain scientific integrity and preserve the random sampling survey design, DEC will not accept requests to participate in the survey.
Second annual youth hunt
Thousands of young hunters took part in New York's second annual Youth Deer Hunt, held Columbus Day weekend, October 12-14, the DEC announced recently.
During the youth deer hunt, junior hunters, ages 14 and 15, with a big game hunting license were eligible to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult.
Approximately 18,000 junior hunters were eligible to participate in the 2013 youth deer hunt. To date, junior hunters have reported taking approximately 700 deer.
DEC anticipates the final harvest estimate for the youth deer hunt will be higher after all reports are in and the harvest is calculated. Last year, during the inaugural youth deer hunt, an estimated 60 percent of eligible junior hunters participated and DEC calculated that they took more than 1,400 deer.
To gauge participation rates during the youth hunt, monitor satisfaction of junior hunters and to identify potential barriers to participation, DEC has distributed a short survey to a random sample of eligible junior hunters. The survey is also an important component of how DEC calculates deer harvest during the youth hunt. All junior hunters that receive the survey are encouraged to complete and return it promptly.
DEC encourages parents to submit a picture to DEC's Big Game Hunting Photo Gallery to showcase the success of junior hunters.