This year was by far the worst hunting season I could remember. I believe the state has to do something to change the hunting regulations. This is a copy of the letter I sent to the DEC. I would like all feedback both good & bad about the letter. I want to get an idea what most hunters are willing to change in the regulations so I can go to these supposed public meetings & speak out. I am going to be posting this on many other websites to get as many feedbacks as I can. Please give me some input. Here it is:
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Ken Otten & I own 220 acres of land in Otsego County. I also have control over another 215 acres that border me. In total there are 5 people that hunt on 435 acres. I am an avid hunter & would like to see a healthy deer herd with opportunities for everyone to enjoy. I am a big fan of the way Pennsylvania has restructured their hunting opportunities. I believe NYS can be a leader in this way also, but now is the time to start. But before I begin, I would like to commend you on your re-thinking of the hunting opportunities for the state of New York. I like some of the new ideas & would like to input some of my own. I know the DEC is getting a lot of input from all over the state between hunters, biologists, task forces, farmers & from anyone else that has an opinion. This writing is of my story & my suggestions. Some of my ideas may be good & some bad, but you can take from it what you will. I’ve been trying to implement a management system on my land to grow bigger bucks & have a healthier herd. I've shot some nice bucks over the years, but since doing some spare time taxidermy work, I have seen what the potential could be for the deer in my area. Three years ago I stopped shooting young bucks in favor of Does. Last year I initiated food plots on my property along with those shooting practices & this is what the result was. Three years ago, we had about 35 to 40 deer on the land. This was a combination of bucks & Does that we saw in the fields during the summer & winter months. After the food plots were in, we had the same number of deer but only 2 bucks. They were a year and a half 5-pointer and a year and a half 6-pionter. They were there in the summer & stayed during the hunting season. Unfortunately, they were both shot by neighboring farms during the gun season. A two and a half 8-pointer came in and bred the does. We passed on shooting him to let him get bigger & he was there and alive until well after the season was over. Last year, we took 7 Does off the property. When the summer came, we still counted about the same number of deer (between 30 to 35) in the food plots. Of these there were 5 yearling bucks. One 6-pointer, three 4-pointers, & a spike. Throughout bow season we saw these bucks on a regular basis. Then what we believe was the 8-pointer we left last year returned & was breeding the Does. We saw him on a daily basis for about 2 weeks just prior to the gun season, then he left. As the gun season came in, the yearlings were still there but the 6-pointer had broken off both antlers and was barely legal as a buck & one of the 4-pointers had broken off one side. The broken horn 6-pointer stayed for the 1st week and then within a 24 hr timeframe left our property & was shot about 2 miles away. The other yearlings were also shot by neighboring farms. This past week we saw the spike breeding the Does. So far as of this writing, we shot 3 Does. One was a year and half Doe with 2 fawns. My problem with this scenario is that the state has procedures in place to control the Does but nothing to control the buck population. Each year, the new crop of bucks are being harvested & there is no carry over to let them get to an older age. It’s not a healthy herd when the year and a half spikes are doing the breeding. Unfortunately, I cannot control this. But the State can. I don’t have data to go on, but here’s what I think:
1. I think there should be antler restrictions of 3 or preferably 4 points to a side during the gun & muzzleloader seasons and possibly the archery season. This will let the little ones get a little older & force meat hunters to shoot Does to put meat in the freezer. This will increase the antler size & quantity of bucks while decreasing the herd for damage control. With an influx of larger bucks, the State can get more revenue out of the out of state license sales. Out of state residents would be more likely to come here if they thought they could get a trophy buck like in Illinois.
2. I’m not in favor of an Earn a buck program for NYS residents because I believe it would reduce the herd too much. I think it would work if you used the Earn a buck program for out of state residents. They would benefit by being able to take 2 deer with the one license while letting NYS residents get first chance at the bucks. This would bring in more out of state hunters while reducing the herd. The way the state has it now with the DMP permits can better control the Doe population.
3. Lower the big game hunting age to 13. At this age they are more inclined to take up the sport without being sidetracked by other social behaviors. I don’t believe there should be a special season for them, but they should be allowed to shoot any 1 deer of their choice without any restrictions. This should be done every year, as long as they have a junior license. This will get them hooked at an earlier age & keep them interested as long as they shoot something.
4. I don’t believe there should be an early muzzleloader season, even if it’s antler less only. I believe the early season shooting will spook the deer prior to the regular gun season. Also, from what I’ve been hearing around, a lot of people are talking that if there is an early muzzleloader season & they see a nice buck, they will shoot it & never report it. I think having people going into the woods with a firearm in the early season, is asking for trouble. What I would suggest is to reduce the regular gun season to 2 weeks with 3 weekends. Then implement a muzzleloader only season on the following week with all the regular season regulations & benefits carried over. You don’t have to have the regular season that long. Most of the deer are shot within the first week anyway. This would give the muzzleloaders their own week plus they could still use their unused DMP permits from the regular season. Also on this week the secondary rut would be on and their chances would be good to tag out on a good buck. By decreasing the cost of a muzzleloader license to $10, I believe you would get more state income by the increased number of sales. Hunters wouldn’t mind spending the extra money to extend their season.
5. I like the idea of opening the gun season on a Saturday & the bow season 2 weeks earlier. The only thing is that the period of the bow season between Oct. 1 & the 15th should be for antler less deer only. In this way the herd can be reduced & the bucks wouldn’t have bred them already. This period, as well as the rest of the early bow season, could be used to qualify for the Earn a buck program. This would give out of state residents a chance to fulfill their requirements early on. It would also increase the number of bow hunting sales.
This is how the season would work out in 2005:
Oct 1 – Oct 14 Early Archery (Antler less Deer only)
All Archery license holders can take 1 Deer (Antler less only)
Non-Resident hunters can use for the Earn a buck program
Oct 15 – Nov 18 Early Archery (Either Sex) – with or without Antler restrictions?
All Archery license holders can take 1 Deer (Either Sex) – with or without restrictions?
Non Resident hunters can use for the Earn a buck program on Antler less Deer
Youth & Disabled Archery license holders can take 1 Deer (Either Sex) without restrictions
Nov 19 – Dec 4 Regular Season (Antler Restrictions)
All resident Big Game license holders can take 1 buck with 3 or 4 points to a side
All resident Big Game license holders can take 1 Antler less deer with a DMP license
Non-Resident Big Game license holders can take 1 Antler less & 1 Buck with 3 or 4 points to a side (after the Earn a buck rules are fulfilled) – If the Antler less rule is fulfilled during Early Archery season, then only 1 Buck can be taken & no Doe
Youth & Disabled Big Game license holders can take 1 Deer (Either Sex) without restrictions
Dec 5 – Dec 11 Muzzleloader Season (Antler Restrictions)
All resident Muzzleloader license holders can take 1 buck with 3 or 4 points to a side
All resident Muzzleloader license holders can take 1 Antler less deer with a DMP license if it is not used during the Regular Season
All Non-Resident Muzzleloader license holders can take 1 buck with 3 or 4 points to a side
Youth & Disabled Muzzleloader license holders can take 1 Deer (Either Sex) without restrictions
Dec 12 – Dec 18 Muzzleloader Season (continued) and Late Archery Season
All leftover tags are valid (Same rules apply from earlier seasons)
I hope some of this can be used to have a healthier Deer herd & to give the hunter’s of this state the opportunities and satisfaction they deserve. From what I have always been told is that the Deer belong to the State of New York & it falls upon you only to make these decisions. The buck herd needs to increase and there needs to be an age structure within it. Future generations along with my 2 sons are counting on you. Please do the right thing.
All opinions are welcome & no holding back.