December 2, 2012

Big-game season wraps up in Northern Zone

What began in late October culminates today. This is the last day of the Northern Zone big-game season for deer and bear.

However, some of us who hunt the Adirondack foothills region Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) will have another week of muzzleloading hunting that runs from Dec. 3 to 9. But for those WMUs in the interior of the Adirondacks, things come to a halt today at sunset.

As the manager of an Adirondack themed deer hunting website (, I’m able to gauge the flow of the season. Seldom are two seasons alike and this one has been no exception. Thanks to an easy winter, there were plenty of deer around, but they still did not have it easy thanks to little or no mast crop production and dry summer conditions.

As the season got under way and progressed, it became obvious that food sources were scattered and therefore so were the deer. Our group’s findings, and those of other hunters I’ve collaborated with, were that ferns were a major food source. Mushrooms were also targeted by deer as were backyard bird feeders and gardens earlier in the season. This leaves hunters speculating about what effect a hard upcoming winter could have on the deer should that be the case.

This is not to say that hunters didn’t have some success out there. I have a friend who I consider an expert deer hunter and he always says that in years when you see fewer bucks the ones that you do see are usually good ones. I’ve heard stories and have seen and posted some photos on my website of some really fine Adirondack bucks, which we’ll discuss in a later column. In the end, I’m going to guess that the Northern Zone buck harvest will be down slightly from the previous two or three years.

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