ESPN Outdoors 2005-2006 Whitetail Forecast

Season dates:

  • Archery: Northern Zone: Sept. 27-Oct. 21; Southern Zone: Oct. 15-Nov.18 and Dec. 12-20; Westchester Co: Oct. 15-Dec. 31; Suffolk Co: Oct. 1-Dec. 31.

  • Muzzleloader: Northern Zone: Oct. 15-21 and Dec. 5-11; Southern Zone: Dec.12-20.

  • Youth/disabled: N/A.

  • Firearm: Northern Zone: Oct. 22-Dec. 4; Southern Zone: Nov. 19-Dec. 11.

  • Special antlerless: N/A.

Resident license fees: Small and big game - $19; Bowhunting - $16; Muzzleloading- $16.

Nonresident license fees: Big Game - $110; Bowhunting - $110; Muzzleloading - $110.

Bag limit: Generally varies from one to five (or even more) depending on weapon, tags, permits, and area.

Hunter education/bowhunter education required? Yes, both are required.

Population for 2005: 850,000 deer.

Season forecast: As Charles Dickens wrote in "A Tale of Two Cities," it might be the best of times and the worst of times for deer hunters in the Empire State.

The best of times? Well, that's because the state of New York has one of the higher deer populations in the entire country with 850,000 deer roaming around.

And that's not to mention the fact that the state is an often-overlooked trophy buck hotspot, a fact evidenced by a state record typical of 198 2/8 inches and a state non-typical record of 244 2/8 inches.

The worst of times? Well, that might be an overstatement.

Even so, New York Department of Environmental Conservation Bureau of Wildlife biologist Kelly Stang reports that the Empire State's deer population, big as it is, is still down slightly in many areas of New York.

As a result, Stang reports that the number of Deer Management Permits (antlerless) being issued this fall will be far less than in 2004.

Perhaps the worst news of all for New York deer hunters according to Stang is the fact that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has also been confirmed in the wild deer population since last season.

Even so, there is still ample reason for New York deer hunters to smile and look forward to a relatively good year of hunting this fall: a sizable deer herd inhabits the state, the state is home to some genuine big buck genetics, and the annual harvest in New York is as much as many state's overall deer population is.

The bottom line is this: if you're a New Yorker, then it's just about time to go deer hunting!

2004 harvest: 208,406 deer.

Bow harvest: 29,775 deer.

Muzzleloader harvest: 13,458 deer.

Firearm harvest: N/A.

Number of licensed deer hunters: Approximately 850,000.

Deer hunter success rates: About 24 percent.

Number of bowhunters: Approximately 198,000.

Bowhunter success rates: About 15 percent.

Number of muzzleloader hunters: Approximately 185,000.

Muzzleloader success rates: About seven percent.

Number of firearm hunters: Approximately 592,000.

Firearm success rates: About 14 percent.

Top counties/regions: Steuben, Cattaraugus, Allegany, St. Lawrence and Chautauqua Counties according to Stang.

Top public-hunting spots: While this question was not answered in this year's survey, previous ESPNOutdoors.com Deer Forecasts have listed the public lands along the New York/Pennsylvania border, in the Catskill Mountains, and in the Adirondack Mountains as top public hunting spots.

Testing conducted for chronic wasting disease? Yes.

Units/areas that tested positive for chronic wasting disease: Oneida County.

State record typical: 198 2/8 inches.

State record non-typical: 244 2/8 inches.

State record archery typical: 180 1/8 inches.

State record archery non-typical: 205 1/8 inches.

More information: Call the New York DEC's Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 402-8919 or visit the agency's Web site. To report a poacher, call (518) 402-8829.

Did you know? Many of the Empire State's existing deer hunting laws and regulations have been in place for nearly a century … The current New York state record typical whitetail buck (198 2/8 inches) was taken in Allegany County in 1939 by Roosevelt Luckey … Amazingly enough, the NY state record non-typical (244 2/8 inches) was also taken in Allegany County in 1939. The big non-typical fell to hunter Homer Boylan … The Bureau of Wildlife had its origin in the Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission according to the agency's Web site. The Bureau was established by an act of the legislature on April 25, 1895, a time when New York wildlife populations were at one of their lowest points in recorded history … The Bureau's Web site indicates that more than 200,000 acres of land have been purchased by the State of New York and are designated as "Wildlife Management Areas" … The agency's Web site indicates that opening day of the Southern Zone regular deer season has been changed from Monday to Saturday while the season will close on a Sunday. This change allows young hunters and others who are unable to take time off from work or school to hunt on opening day … The Bureau's Web site reports that a pilot program to expand the age structure of the buck population will be implemented in two Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) located primarily in Ulster County. The new harvest strategy will require that bucks taken in WMUs 3C and 3J have at least three antler points on a side to be legal. Young hunters, under the age of 17, would be exempt from the three point requirement … According to the Bureau, big game hunting is still available on Long Island with an abundant population of white-tailed deer in much of eastern Suffolk County … The agency indicates that public hunting is a needed management tool as serious deer depredation problems occur annually in Long Island's agricultural fields, nurseries, and to many gardens and ornamental plants. Some areas also have problems with car-and-deer collisions … Present Long Island deer hunting opportunities exist in the form of an archery season from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and by way of a three week shotgun and muzzleloader season in January.