NEW YORK

Deer Forecast 2004 -- EAST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The Empire State's 2003 deer take of 253,088 was down about 18 percent from 2002's record 308,216. This is due to harvest increases and winter mortality in 2002-03 in certain areas.

As a result of the lower population-estimated at just shy of one million-the Department of Environmental Conservation plans to issue approximately 100,000 fewer antlerless permits than in 2003. Barring horrible weather or a mast failure, however, the agency anticipates hunting will be on a par with, or even better than, last year's.

"We expect to see an increase in the bucks taken this year and a slight increase in total harvest," says Dick Henry, DEC deer team leader.

As far as overall numbers, Steuben, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Chautauqua counties should once again lead the harvest. If you're looking for a monster buck, the counties near Rochester are good bets.