Deer season arrives

Photo contributedKenny Davey, 14, of Austerlitz, with a nice 8 point buck; his first, taken on the Youth Season opener.

With gun season for deer and bear opening in the Southern Zone at sunrise on Saturday November 16, it’s a good time to briefly review the early season deer and bear take to date.

Early reports indicate the deer take in the Northern Zone is down about 4 percent, with the Southern Zone up approximately 18 percent when compared to the same period last year.

As for this year’s early season bear take, its down dramatically in the Northern Zone with over a 60 percent decrease from that of last year. The Southern Zone bear take is also down, but only slightly; about 4 percent less than in 2018.

Factors to consider when assessing potential explanations for the drastic reduction in the North Country bear harvest would have to take into account this year’s abundant crop of both hard and soft mass.

With lots of natural forage including berries, apples, and pears, coupled with heavy crops of beechnuts, acorns and other hard mast, black bear need not travel far to feed, making them harder to intercept.

The low bear take so far this year is consistent with past annual fluctuations due to food availability. In the Southern Zone, the reduction in take this year was much less dramatic. One potential reason for this moderation can be attributed to a lot of early bear hunting taking place in or near agricultural edges in the Southern Zone.

The 18 percent increase in reported deer take in early Southern Zone hunting may well be a reflection of last year’s relatively mild winter that generally lacked a sustained, deep snowpack.

The mild winter combined with this past spring’s early green-up and abundant forage do much to lessen the winter kill, even for the most vulnerable fawns who lack the body mass needed to survive harsh winters.

That brings us to this year’s big game hunting forecast. DEC expects the 2019-2020 deer hunting season statewide buck harvest to be similar to that of 2018. DEC increased Deer Management Permit (DMP) issuance by 13 percent this year and even issued permits in some cases where the applicant was original denied due to undersubscription.

With more deer on the landscape due to the combination of a mild winter last year, abundance of food, and more DMPs issued, DEC expects the deer take should be strong this year.

DEC also issued a press-release reminding hunters to hunt safely and provided the following safety tips:

Firearms Safety:

Point your gun in a safe direction;

Treat every gun as if it were loaded;

Be sure of your target and beyond; and

Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or pink to make themselves more visible to other hunters. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

Tree Stand Safety

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded firearm.

Have a Safe and Enjoyable Opening Week and Happy Hunting, Fishing, & Trapping until next time.

Venison Donation Program Cutters:

Greene County

Berkshire View Farm Custom Meats


838 Alcove Road


Rich’s Custom Meat Shop


303 Maple Avenue, Greenville

*Columbia County

Gary Peters


George Road, Ghent

Randy Plass


156 Footbridge Road Extension


*The Columbia County Sportstmen’s Federation is once again sponsoring its Venison Donation Program $400.00 Giveaway.

To participate:

Donate one COMPLETE deer to a participating butcher/cutter for the local food pantry

Sign your name on the form and be entered into $400.00 raffle for a gun or a bow of your choice

Limit of one entry per hunter

For further information about the raffle, contact:

Jim Bashford at 518-265-2789 or Jim Van Deusen at 518-929-3108

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

You can share any comments with our sports desk at

*If you have a fishing or hunting report, photo, or event you would like to be considered for publication, you can send it to:

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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