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Cornell Deer Hunting 
 
Cornell Deer Hunting Program
 
       ***Breaking News***

Jay Boulanger, Campus Deer Hunting Program Coordinator, has left Cornell, and moved west for a new faculty position. While Cornell deer hunting will still be open to the public, there will be major changes to these programs.

Beginning in the 2014 season, there will no longer be a formal "Earn-a-Buck" hunting program. All site sign-ups and harvest reporting will be done online. The sign-in station off of Cherry Road and Deer Check Station on Stevenson Road are closed. Thus, we are no longer collecting deer weights, jaws, and photos. Also, any prior buck eligibility is eliminated because we cannot monitor deer harvest at the check station. 

Under the new hunting reservation system, a hunter may harvest any legal deer during an open season. However, we still strongly encourage harvesting antlerless deer first.  Any hunter who takes an antlerless deer in the previous year, will receive VIP status for the current year.  VIP status allows a hunter to reserve a site online 7 days prior to the hunting date, rather than the usual 3 days.  If a hunter kills a buck prior to harvesting an antlerless deer, then the hunter has 2 years to take an antlerless deer on Cornell lands.  If the hunter fails to do so, he or she will lose future Cornell hunting privileges for one or more years. 

The new campus-wide Deer Hunting Reservation System will be similar to that used by Cornell Plantations in the past. This program requires that each hunter must have a unique e-mail address to use the online system.  After reviewing the Cornell University hunting program regulations, all hunters must complete a brief online test.  When you pass the test, you will be directed to the hunter application form.  As in past years, Cornell University Police will conduct a background check on all hunter applicants. 

The online test and application for a hunting permit can be found at this link: https://cornell.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_3WOcDQhnDW4B9sx.  Paste this link into your browser, or click the hunter test and application tab in the box on the upper right of this page.

All hunters are required to reserve hunting sites online.  There are maps and descriptions for each site available within the reservation system. A hunting report must be completed for each hunting reservation, whether you hunt or not.  Otherwise, you will not be able to make future hunting reservations.  If your plans change, and you can't use an existing hunting reservation, please remove your name so another hunter may use that location.

Crossbows are legal and may be used in archery-only zones when appropriate. Click here for state restrictions.

Discharge distances from occupied dwellings have been reduced to 150 feet for archery equipment and 250 feet for crossbows. Our maps within the hunting reservation system will be updated to reflect these changes.

Small game hunting will continue to be legal at the Arnot Forest and on some campus lands.  Small game hunting is NOT permitted on lands managed by Cornell Plantations.  There is a Small Game Hunting permit for open Cornell lands (see Rules and Regulations at the upper right side of the page).

Carefully read the new links on the right side of this page.

Introduction

NY State is blessed with a healthy and productive deer herd. White-tailed deer are revered by sportsmen and non-hunters for a variety of reasons. Through the 1900’s, NY’s deer herd rebounded from perhaps 20,000 to over 1,000,000. This remarkable recovery is due to wise management and improved habitat conditions. The total statewide deer harvest has more than doubled over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, in some parts of the state, the deer population has created health and economic concerns. Visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website for more information: http://www.dec.ny.gov/.

DEC Bureau of Wildlife is responsible for maintaining deer population levels compatible with the carrying capacity of the habitat and human interests. Historically, management has been primarily focused on optimizing the reproductive capacity of the state’s deer herd through hunting regulations that restrict the harvest of does, while permitting more liberal harvest of bucks. Consequently, the sex ratio is skewed in favor of does and relatively few bucks live past 1.5 years of age.

Prime deer habitat in the Southern Tier, consisting of agriculture and forest/brush cover, supports population densities greater than 40 deer per square mile in some locations. Hunting, as under current regulations, may soon no longer be adequate to control deer populations as hunter numbers decrease and more land becomes inaccessible to hunting. In other northeastern states with similar histories, the explosive growth of the deer herd has resulted in unstable deer herds and significant damage to habitat and forest health.

Deer Management Focus Area

Hunters that wish to participate in the Deer Management Focus Area Program (DMFA) on Cornell Deer Management Program properties within the DMFA zone must also possess a Cornell Deer Management Program PERMIT.  Note that a DEC-issued DMFA Permit is NOT a Cornell-issued PERMIT. Hunters without a Cornell issued permit will be prosecuted. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the continuation of the Deer Management Focus Area (DMFA) for 60,000 acres surrounding Ithaca.  This program was established in central Tompkins County to intensify use of hunting to assist communities with the burden of overabundant deer populations. The DMFA program is established to reduce total deer populations within the focus area by providing more time and more tags to hunters who can gain access to huntable land. Hunters who register to participate in the focus area program may legally harvest two antlerless deer per day during the regular season and during a special January 10 through January 31, 2015 DMFA season. Click here to REGISTER for the Deer Management Focus Area.

Situation on Cornell lands

Campus: Increasing interactions between deer and various properties on and around Cornell University lands have resulted in the need to implement and evaluate a deer research and management program to reduce negative impacts. A critical component of this research is implementation of a deer hunting system that will reduce the overall deer population while maintaining these opportunities for future generations of hunters. Hunting has been, and continues to be, compatible with the philosophy of multiple-use management on Cornell lands. For this project, Cornell lands have been divided into two zones: a core campus area and outlying areas adjacent to the core campus. The primary objective for the core campus zone (1,103 acres) is to reduce deer damage to unique plant collections or research plots, and minimize safety risks associated with deer. We plan to monitor complaints about deer damage to plants, reported deer-vehicle accidents, and deer abundance. The goal is to reduce deer associated complaints using fertility control research. The outlying areas comprise a zone of almost 4,000 acres that contains agricultural fields, woodlots, and natural areas. Limited hunting has been allowed on most of these properties for decades. The primary objective for these areas is to reduce deer damage to agricultural fields and natural areas through the use of controlled hunting on areas with safe shooting zones that meet state discharge regulations. The focus will be to increase the harvest of female deer and lower the reproductive potential and herd size near campus in areas that can be safely hunted. Close to campus, archery hunting will be the primary approach. Where practical, shotgun and muzzleloader hunting will be permitted based on input from the Cornell University Police and land managers. Temporary electric and other fencing designs will also be used to protect research plots during the growing season.

Arnot Forest: The Arnot Forest (4,075 acres) is owned by Cornell University and managed by Cornell’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Click here for a general link to learn more about the Arnot Forest. As part of NY’s Land Grant Education Institution, DNR is responsible for fulfilling the mission of conducting research, teaching, and delivering extension programs on issues of importance to the citizens of NYS. Forest management is a significant issue as nearly two-thirds of NY’s land is covered by forests. The DNR uses the Arnot Forest as a research base and demonstration forest from which to develop innovative programs for the citizens of the state. One of the primary management goals at the Arnot is the production and harvest of high-quality, high-value sawtimber. Unfortunately, similar to the situation across much of NY’s Southern Tier, the deer population at the Arnot has been too high to allow sufficient natural regeneration despite proper sawtimber management. In an effort to resolve this problem and gain valuable experience that may be applied elsewhere in the state, we have recently initiated studies designed to assess the impact deer are having on tree regeneration at the Forest. A critical component of this research is implementation of a deer hunting system that will reduce the overall deer population. As in most areas of the state, sport hunting is still the most effective manner by which to control deer populations. Sport hunting has been, and continues to be, totally compatible with the philosophy of multiple-use management at the Forest.

The Arnot Forest is mostly woodlands off Schuyler County Route 13 in the Towns of Van Etten (Schuyler County) and Newfield (Tompkins County).  Shotguns, muzzleloaders, and archery implements (no rifles) can be used in this area during the appropriate Southern Zone deer seasons.  Access is only provided through the south gate (see map below). There is a maximum of 99 hunting slots open during any legal time at this site. Contact Don Schaufler (dps4@cornell.edu, 607-589-6076) to obtain DMAP doe tags for use on this property.

Maps

Campus Lands maps: Maps and parking areas for specific hunting sites will be available within the Deer Hunting Reservation System for both Cornell Plantations properties, and former Earn-a-Buck sites close to the campus.  For the general hunting area locations within Tompkins County, click on the Tompkins County Hunting Map link under Important Information at the upper right of this page.

For a more detailed map of hunting area locations closer to campus, click on the Campus Lands Hunting Map link under Important Information at the upper right of this page.

Arnot Forest map information (here): On Arnot Forest lands east of Schuyler County Route 13, hunters may park along Decker Hill Rd. There is no parking allowed along County Route 13.