The new license year began Saturday, Oct. 1, and that was also the final day to apply for a Deer Management Permit if you were hoping to get one. According to information I received last week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation had already issued about 70 percent of the available tags, about on target with previous years at this time.
The agency insists tags are given at random, so your chances of getting one are supposedly as good the first day as the last day. Somehow I doubt that, especially for areas where demand may be heavy and limited tags are available.
What clinched that doubt for me was the experience I had last year. I'm one of those hunters who like to apply for my tags early, usually within the first few days they're available, right around Aug. 15. I have a Lifetime License so it's easy for me to just go up and apply.
Last year I applied for my tag and had one preference point, so I thought my chances of getting a tag were at least fairly good. Nonetheless, I was turned down and instead earned another preference point. However, a gent next to me at the sporting goods counter also applied for the same area but had no preference points.
You guessed it! He got his deer management permit but I was turned down. No big deal really, but that raises the question of just how "random" the permit issuance process is.
I received my second preference point last year and was turned down again this year, so that means I now have three preferences, placing me in the second highest tier for next year's application, but I think I'll wait until September to apply for mine next year. Maybe it'll make a difference.
I just want some venison for the freezer so an antlerless deer is okay with me. Those preference points are just an "insurance policy."
THE LAST CHANCE
In any event, if you were turned down for a permit this season you still have a chance for one, albeit a small one.
Around Nov. 1, DEC tallies up the total number of permits it has issued in each wildlife management unit and then doles out any unissued permits, again by random draw, to hunters turned down during the regular application period.
If you're selected for a permit during this late draw you're in luck because you can keep any preference points you may have already earned from earlier refusals. That may give you better odds of being selected next year, too.
ORDER OF PREFERENCE
In the event you've ever wondered, here's the order of preference the DEC allegedly uses in selecting who will get a Deer Management Permit:
1. Landowners and Disabled Veterans;
2. NYS residents and non-residents with three or more preference points.
3. NYS residents with two preference points.
4. NYS residents with one preference point.
5. NYS residents with no preference points.
6. Non-residents with two preference points.
7. Non-residents with one preference point.
8. Non-residents with no preference points.
Here's a brief reminder that our waterfowl seasons are upon us. Some have already begun but others are rapidly approaching.
In the northeast zone the duck season runs from Oct. 1-10 and then again from Oct. 22 through Dec. 10. The snow goose season runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 and again from Feb. 25 through April 15, 2012.
In the southeast zone, the duck season runs from Oct. 8-16 and then again from Oct. 29 through Dec. 22. The snow goose season runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 5 and then again from March 1 through April 15, 2012.
The first portion of the Canada goose season in the northeast zone is already over, but it reopens Oct. 22 and runs through Dec. 5. In the east-central zone the Canada goose season runs from Oct. 22 through Nov. 18 and then from Dec. 17 through Jan. 2, 2012.
GET YOUR HIP
Don't forget you'll need a Harvest Information Program number before venturing out on any migratory bird hunts, including waterfowl and woodcock. It's mandatory but free and takes only about five minutes to get one. You have to re-register annually.
HIP registrations run from July 1 through June 30, so get yours soon if you haven't already done so. There are a couple of ways you can do that, so use whichever method works best for you.
You can dial, toll-free, 1-888-247-5447 or you can go to www.ny-hip.com on the web. When you finish the five-minute registration process record the HIP number you're given on a slip of paper, along with the date you got it, and store it with your hunting license.
Also, don't forget to get a new migratory waterfowl stamp before hunting ducks or geese.