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Buck Hunting in NY

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

Your choices affect your experience!

Buck hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks.

Invest Now For a Bigger Return Later

When you and your hunting companions choose to pass up shots on young bucks, there is a great chance those bucks will be available the following year, providing substantially more meat and larger antlers. Older bucks also create more rubs, scrapes and vocalizations during the rut and can enhance your hunting experience.

Focus on the Whole Herd and the Habitat

Doe harvest is important statewide and is particularly critical in areas where deer populations are above the target levels, such as in northern portions of central and western New York. In these areas, and wherever antlerless permits are available, choosing to take a doe instead of a young buck will help bring deer densities into better balance with both the habitat and public desires. Additionally, creating young forest on lands you own or manage will enhance the natural forage and cover for deer, which in turn, will increase deer body and antler size and boost deer productivity and survival.

Make it a Community Affair

Cooperating with your neighbors and hunting partners to reduce harvest of young bucks, meet your antlerless harvest goals, and improve habitat conditions can magnify your impact and increase the rate at which you see changes in the woods and in the deer you take. Deer hunting cooperatives have been growing in New York, and they start with a conversation about deer among friends and neighbors.

Have Realistic Expectations

While many hunters want the opportunity to take a bigger bucks, the bucks frequently shown in magazines, on TV shows, and plastered on hunting-related products are rare in the wild. To help hunters better understand what buck populations look like in New York and have realistic expectations of what they might encounter afield, in 2015 and 2016 we collected additional antler measurements from 2,176 bucks across the state. As we gather more data, we’ll be able to provide these summaries at geographic scales that more closely reflect local populations. But the picture is already clear; when hunters choose to let yearling bucks go, they do grow – with antlers nearly doubling in size from 1.5 to 2.5 years of age.

Average New York Adult Buck

Buck Age

Total Points

Inside Spread (inches)

Main Beam Length (inches)

Gross B & C Score (estimate)

1.5

4

8.5

9.8

47

2.5

7

13.5

15.4

90

≥3.5

8

15.5

18.1

110

Learn the Differences between Young and Older Bucks

These bucks from Washington County, NY demonstrate typical body size and antler differences between yearlings and 2.5 and 3.5 year old bucks. Looking at the number of antler points often isn’t enough to tell you the age of a buck; 5-10% of yearling bucks (1.5 years old) have 8-point racks. Taking the time to get a good look at the whole body will help greatly in evaluating age. Photos courtesy of QDMA.

Yearling Buck
(1.5 years old)

Older Buck

Body Size similar to adult doe larger than adult doe
Legs appear long and skinny appear more stocky due to deeper chest
Muscles often not clearly defined well defined in shoulders and thighs
Body Shape slender, belly tucks up belly flat or even sagging
Antlers thin, spread narrower than ear tips Thicker, spread almost as wide as ear tips on 2.5-year-old buck; wider if older