N.Y. (WETM) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking hunters to help keep the deer population in check by harvesting does and reporting their harvests.

According to the DEC, antlerless deer (does) are the most abundant and most often seen population of deer, but in 2022, only 16% of hunters in New York State harvested them. Additionally, less than half of deer hunters reported their harvests last year despite state law requiring reports within seven days of harvest.

The DEC says that the most important ways that hunters can help improve deer management are by harvesting does and reporting all deer they harvest. Harvesting does instead of just bucks helps keep the deer population in balance and prevents the issues deer overpopulation can bring. If there are too many deer in an area, there can be an increase in car and deer collisions and crop damage. Reporting all deer harvests helps the DEC determine the deer population in the region and make deer management decisions for the following year.

In addition to asking hunters to harvest antlerless deer and report all of their harvests, the DEC would like hunters to voluntarily pass on opportunities to harvest young bucks. Letting young bucks go will allow them to grow larger and provide more meat and larger antlers if they are harvested when full-grown.

The DEC says that half of the bucks harvested in New York are yearlings, and the state has a smaller large-antlered buck population because so many bucks are taken as yearlings. Waiting to harvest bucks until they are at least 2.5 years old (have more than 4 points and larger antlers) will allow the large-antlered population to grow and allow more hunters to harvest bucks with large antlers in the future.

Hunters can report their harvests by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778), using the DEC’s HuntFishNY app, or by going to the DEC’s website.