I’m not so sure that type of analysis of the population is going to provide sufficient data to accurately base doe permit numbers on. I also doubt they could estimate the herd quickly enough in the spring to doll out the correct number of doe permits that fall.
Further, I know wildlife officials who would argue that deer numbers change very little from one year to the next — at least in the northern zone — even after doe harvest is allowed with primitive arms. So what exactly will be gained?
Plus, I think many northern zone hunters have the same concern as me in that very few permits would be issued here. That, to me, means less opportunities for the ever-dwindling number of folks who still hunt here. According to the state’s own numbers, deer hunting has dropped 40 percent since 1980 — can we really afford to drive anymore away?
I just don’t think the deer population, the number of hunters or the number of antlerless deer they take during bow and muzzleloader seasons fluctuates that much, and it certainly hasn’t decimated the herd.
At the same time, I would argue that the DEC routinely underestimates the number of people who harvest deer yet fail to report their take as required — but that’s a column for another day.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet — I’m not a fan of antler restrictions. I’m not a trophy hunter — never have been. Nice antlers are a bonus, but they’re really chewy no matter how thin you slice them. You want monster racks? Watch the outdoor channel.
I’m also skeptical that antler restrictions would make much of a difference in New York. Unless you’re talking about a heavily managed ranch somewhere, I’ve seen very little hard evidence that restrictions actually create more opportunity for larger racked deer, at least in the wild. In fact, I’ve read studies that say just the opposite — that removing the herd’s older deer with the best genetics can actually be detrimental to antler growth.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications, a guide and avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at email@example.com