here is my letter regarding the DEC's proposed restructuring of the So. Zone deer seasons. i would appreciate any input you may have. it has been posted on a few forums and sent to several individuals/gropus so far.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter in response to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed changes to the Southern Zone Hunting Season dates & structure. I have some apprehensions about the proposed changes and some suggestions.
As a hunter (17 yrs.) with a Natural Resources degree, I realize the difficulties and complexities involved with managing the State’s deer herd and when you combine that with trying to appease the hunting community, landowners, and other stakeholders, the job becomes even more challenging. I feel there needs to be compromise by all parties (bowhunters, gun hunters, muzzleloaders, & DEC) to achieve a workable structure that all can “live” with. I think the ideas/alternative listed below may be a way to accomplish this.
1) Archery Season: Starting bow season early will give bow hunters more hunting days and could, therefore, potentially increase deer harvests. However, many bowhunters (myself included) are not overly excited with early bow, but would be happy with the extra time in the woods and take advantage of the opportunity.
2) Early ML Season: I know for a fact that almost all bowhunters (BH) will not be happy with a muzzleloader (ML) season interrupting the archery season. The major reason being the increased pressure in the woods by ML hunters disrupting the deer’s normal patterns, which BHs rely on heavily. As a ML hunter, I believe we need more hunting opportunities to hunt with MLs. However, I think there are better alternatives. One thought is to put the week of antlerless before the beginning of the bow season. This would not have as big of an effect on the deer patterns since the rut is farther away and the deer will have some time to resume their normal patterns before peak bowhunting occurs. My other suggestion for increased ML opportunities are detailed in #4.
3) Regular Gun Season: I know the Saturday opener is something that has been kicked around for quite some time and is something a majority of hunters would like. Being a “traditionalist”, I am not one of those hunters. Additionally, as a bowhunter, I will lose a prime weekend of bowhunting. With that said, I would not be opposed to a change to Saturday. I know it will increase hunter satisfaction. Additionally, to help with antlerless harvests, allow ML & bow hunters to use their respective tags in gun season. This not only could help control doe numbers, but it would give those that prefer those implements an additional opportunity to use them without sacrificing their regular tag(s).
4) Late ML & Archery Season: The late ML season is where I really think opportunities for ML hunters can be expanded and equity achieved. Late ML season could last for 3-4 weeks. This gives those hunters more chances to get out in the field and, thereby, increases their satisfaction and potential deer harvests. Conditions can be ideal at this time of year and even if conditions are not ideal, ML hunters will have the choice to hunt or not. Late archery could stay the same.
5) Additional Thoughts: I think the “Saturday Opener” concept is a good idea, but would not work under my proposal. My dates for the “ideal” scenario would be as follows:
Early Muzzlelaoder Season (and/or possibly Archery) – October 1st lasting 1 week (antlerless only)
Archery Season – October 8th through the day before regular season
Regular Season – Third Saturday in November running for 23 days (ML and bow tags can be used with those particular weapons)
Late Archery Season – Day after close of regular season running 7 days (any unused tags valid)
Late Muzzleloader – Day after close of regular season lasting 3-4 weeks (any unused tags valid; possibly some antlerless restrictions)
I am a very devoted deer hunter and have put a good deal of time and thought into these topics. I believe that these ideas are based in sound management, as well as, hunter satisfaction. I realize there will never be a way to satisfy everyone, but hopefully there is a way, with compromise, to get close. I think my ideas make an honest attempt do just that. Potentially, bowhunters would gain a week or two of hunting, while giving up a prime weekend of hunting. Muzzleloaders will gain several weeks of hunting, which they deserve, and the opportunity to use their tags in the regular gun season. However, they could be restricted to antlerless harvests for some portion(s) of those season(s). Gun hunters get a Saturday opener and 4 weekends of hunting. I think the DEC would get a structure that would appease a large majority of the hunting community and provide some additional opportunities for herd control.
I think the proposed restructuring is a good foundation for needed change. However, it could use some adjustments that would be beneficial to all parties involved. Like many, I enjoy hunting with bow, shotgun/rifle, and muzzleloader and like the separate seasons for using each of those implements. I look forward to the public meeting next month and am eager to give my input, as well as, hear other’s ideas. Thank you.