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Late season deer hunting opportunities

There are still opportunities to get in some deer hunting, including the Holiday Deer Hunt, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Contributed photo

Even though the deer hunting season has ended in much of the northern zone, there are still many opportunities to fill your deer tags through special and extended seasons in the southern zone. These include:

•           The Holiday Deer Hunt, which is an extension of the late bow and muzzleloader season and runs from Dec. 26, through Jan. 1.

•           The bowhunting season for deer continues in Westchester County until Dec. 31.

•           The January Firearms Season in Suffolk County is open Jan. 1-31.

•           The special Deer Management Focus Area Season for antlerless deer in central Tompkins County is open Jan. 14-31, 2023.

Although for many motivation to continue hunting may be waning, the late season can provide excellent deer hunting opportunities.

Deer tend to be concentrated around late season food sources such as standing corn or soybeans or areas with abundant early successional or evergreen vegetation, making them more visible and predictable during shooting hours. Leaf cover is absent, making deer easier to see, especially when backdropped by a blanket of snow. Snow in itself opens up the opportunity to practice deer hunting tactics such as tracking or still hunting, which can be very effective.

Hunters who have already filled their freezers should also remember that there are numerous opportunities to donate venison to those in need or share it with friends and family. Every late season deer hunter has at least one tag for antlerless deer. Unfilled bow/muzzleloader and regular season tags as well as unfilled deer management permits can also be used for antlerless deer during the late bow/muzzleloader season and Holiday Hunt.

It’s also important to remember that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation manages deer populations through the harvest of antlerless deer. Harvesting antlerless deer during the late season is a great way to assist DEC in reaching its deer management goals while expanding your hunting skills and sharing the hunting tradition with others through the gift of generosity.

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