He said it is very difficult for biologists to have “scale control” when hunters are allowed to take does with both bow and muzzleloader tags every year.
“In some cases, that’s not what’s best for deer management,” Hurst said.
Instead, biologists would like to be able to issue doe permits based on the health of the herd each year — giving out more where needed and less where the herd is struggling from factors like winter kill.
That would keep the number of deer more level from one year to the next based on what an area can support, Hurst said.
The flip side to that, Hurst acknowledged, is that not as many deer management permits would be issued in areas with low deer densities, like the Adirondacks.
“The reality is, in low population densities, we can’t afford much antlerless harvest,” he said. “If we had a year where we saw a big swing in deer or hunter numbers, the impact on the herd could be scary. It would take many years to rebound.”
At the same time, it would open an opportunity for rifle hunters to take a doe anywhere in the state with a deer management permit for that area.
Another area that is sure to spark some conversation in hunting camp is with regard to antler restrictions. The state proposes increasing the hunting area where antler restrictions are in place. Restrictions were put in place in 2006 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3C, 3H, 3J, and 3K. In these units, bucks taken have to have at least one antler with three or more points which are at least 1 inch long, including brow tines.
The goal is to increase the opportunity to harvest 2-plus-year-old bucks with greater antler growth.
The proposal on the table is to increase those restrictions to include WMUs 3A, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W, in counties like Schoharie, Greene, Delaware and Ulster, around and south of Albany.