Connecticut Deer Season 2012: Hunting Forecast

Connecticut's deer herd is in good shape, with most management zones reporting stable to slightly increasing deer numbers. Last winter only helped, with very mild temperatures and little snow. Does came into the spring in very good condition for fawning, despite a poor acorn crop last fall.

Deer Management Zones 1 and 2, in the northwest corner of the state, are the only zones reporting a slight decrease in deer populations. Statewide, the deer harvest has been stable at approximately 12,000 deer annually, for all weapons and all hunts.

At least, that's the view from the state's Bureau of Natural Resources/Wildlife Division. A number of people in Connecticut think the herd's not in such good shape--and needs to be reduced considerably.

Recently, three state groups released a report which argued that the Connecticut deer herd is out of control and more aggressive deer management policies are needed, and fast. Commissioned by the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance, the Connecticut Coalition to End Lyme Disease, and the Connecticut Audubon Society, the report concluded that an over-population of deer was costing towns in Fairfield County alone more than $170 million from health care costs associated with Lyme Disease, car repairs, and damage to homeowners' plants and landscaping.

Further, the report estimated that the towns of of Danbury, Fairfield, Greenwich, Newtown, Stamford, and Trumbull spend at least $10 million annually to fix deer damage.

All three groups favor suburban deer hunting as one of the prime management options. Not that this is a new idea. The problem is that nearly every time suburban archery hunts have been proposed in Connecticut, a small but extremely vocal animal rights contingent comes out in force.

But suburban hunting can and does work here. Case in point, the Greenwich Sportsman and Landowners Alliance, which since 1991 has been certifying and placing deer bowhunters in and around Greenwich, Connecticut. Much of the venison taken via this program is donated to local food banks.

In addition, the town of Redding recently launched a website to match up landowners with deer hunters.
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The Northeastern Regional Report**
_A very mild winter (which followed a generally mild winter in 2010-2011) and average-or-better amounts of spring and summer rain this year have the Northeast region looking good this fall. States like Vermont and Maine are expecting improved harvests, as the easy winters have allowed deer herds to rebound. Except for a small pocket of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, and a limited outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in west-central New Jersey, deer here have no real health issues.

While there are still many good-size deer in the Northeast, trophy antler production has eased away from here and moved into the Midwest region. The Boone and Crockett Club's "Trophy Whitetail Production, 2005 to 2010," for example, doesn't list a single Northeastern state in the top 10. Pennsylvania, at number 20 (with 26 entries), is the highest-ranked state from this region.

That said, Northern states still grow big-bodied deer. "During the 2011 season, we had 124 bucks registered that, on the hoof, would have tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds," says Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski._
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Top Trophy Zones****
NY: Monroe, Wayne, and Suffolk counties. Comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island, Suffolk County produces approximately half the state's Pope and Young records--including a 2006 buck that netted 196 2⁄8 non-typical.
NJ: Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Salem counties.
PA: Alleghany, Chester, Washington, and Beaver counties.
WV: McDowell and Wyoming counties.