New York Bowhunters, Inc. recognized the importance of forming an Urban Deer Committee (UDC) early on in the formation of the organization. The idea garnished in 1992 and began to pickup steam in 1993. Since inception, the Urban Deer Committee has been involved with local and state officials working hand in hand in areas where deer were plentiful but a firearms season was not allowed because of habitation by large numbers of people. Two such areas where NYB’s UDC has had a huge impact are in the town of Irondequoit, a suburb of Rochester, NY (Monroe County) and Erwin, NY, a suburb of Corning, NY. There had not been any hunting in Monroe County Parks for over 30 years, so when NYB Monroe County Rep. Don Plant took on the project there, he knew he was in for a long and turbulent ride. Through hard work, factual information, innovation and public relations Don was able to get a limited bowhunt started in the town in 1996. That first year there was only 8 qualifying bowhunters but they had an astonishing success rate of 50%, by harvesting 4 deer. The program has grown in hunter numbers and success ever since. In fact, the annual bait and shoot program which was utilized by the town of Irondequoit to keep the deer numbers down to a safe level has been totally replaced with NYB’s bowhunting program. See hunter success information for 1996 through 2003 found below.
Irondequoit Bowhunting Program – A Huge Success by Donald E. Plant
In 1996, after over 30 years of no hunting, the town of Irondequoit, New York, a suburb of Rochester, New York approved a very limited bowhunting program. The town’s deer population was exploding and the bait and shoot program which was implemented sometime earlier was becoming a very expensive management program. In this program, Sheriff Sharpshooters would shoot deer with high powered rifles in restricted areas of the town at night over piles of food left out for bait. This program although effective was very costly; therefore, a bowhunting program was adopted to determine it’s effectiveness in urban areas. New York Bowhunters Inc. (NYB) Monroe County Representative Donald Plant was instrumental in working with the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation), Irondequoit town officials and the local law enforcement in order to bring this program to fruition. After 8 years, the program has been greatly expanded and has been extremely successful.
Since it’s inception, the bowhunting program has grown from 8 hunters who took 4 deer, to 48 hunters who took 79 deer in 2003. Additionally, the number of sites have grown from 4 to 46 during the same time period. The sites include both town and private land. The best part of this success story is that the bowhunting program has been so successful that it has replaced the bait and shoot management program and is the only management tool currently being used to cull the deer herd within the town. Furthermore and most importantly, it has been done safely. None of the scenarios which were presented by non-hunting organizations or town members in the early days of discussion about the introduction of the bowhunt within the town have ever come close to being remotely true.
The town’s bowhunting program is in fact more restrictive than the current state law as it applies to bowhunting. The hunting is conducted Monday through Friday only, from sunrise to 11am. Furthermore, hunters are required to take an antlerless deer first before being allowed an opportunity at an antlered or buck deer. Because this program is designed to reduce the deer herd and manage its population within safe limits, it is of the utmost importance that antlerless deer are removed from the population. Therefore, hunters are encouraged to take as many antlerless deer as is legally possible. Currently, a hunter has a regular hunting license, plus a DMU permit (Deer Management Permit) for the 8C area (this permit allows a hunter to take more than 1 antlerless deer) and a DMAP permit (Deer Management Assistance Program) for two additional deer, as issued by the town. Some hunters have taken as many as 8 deer. The season starts October 15th and runs through the last day of the late season. There is only 1 break which is the first two days of gun season. Hunters also must pass a shooting proficiency test, have taken a deer with a bow and pay a $20 fee to participate in the hunt. The urban deer management program developed by NYB and local officials has been a huge success and if it can work in a major suburb of Rochester, New York it can work in other urban and metropolitan areas as well. Please see TABLE 1 for a breakdown of hunter results over the length of the Urban Deer Bowhunting Program in Irondequoit.
Irondequoit Bowhunting Program
Average success rate 149%
Deer taken per day 1.78
Deer taken per hunter 1.45
Erwin Bowhunting Program
In 1998 and 1999 then President Karl Lockwood worked with the town of Erwin, outside of Corning, NY to establish an urban bowhunting program based on the Irondequoit program set up a few years earlier. A controlled bow hunt in Erwin has taken place since 1999 and the program has helped to reduce the excessive deer population in the area around the Erwin Park Innovation Complex and Gang Mills. The hunt begins on the bow opener of Oct. 15th and runs until the end of the regular season in December. Each week during the fall deer season, 20 or so hunters are permitted to hunt on the 400 secured acres south of the Cohocton River. Rita McCarthy, town manager stated in a news release that in 2003 hunters harvested 30 deer representing a more than 29 percent success rate for the hunters. The success rate was more than double the average for bowhunters in NY she said.
The program helps the town’s efforts to restore balance between human needs and wildlife population, reduce property damage and protect the public from car-deer accidents, officials said.
Application packages are available at the Erwin Town Hall, 117 W. Water St. All hunters who successfully complete the registration process will be assigned a lottery number for a random drawing. Each hunter will be assigned a specific week to hunt in the order of the random drawing.
There are typically two lottery drawings; the first one in August and the other one in September. Results of the lottery are posted at the town hall and on the town’s Web site at: www.erwinny.org.
To qualify, bowhunters must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Submit a registration form and pay a $3 registration fee, with checks payable to the town of Erwin.
- Submit a release waiver and indemnify agreement.
- Pass a proficiency test given by a state Department of Environmental Conservation sportsman bowhunting education instructor. The hunter must provide a certificate with the registration form.
- Have a valid NY state big game license and bowhunting license by the time the hunt begins.