Sitka Mountain Gear
Tug Hill Deer
New York
Contributors to this thread:
Jdawg 31-Mar-12
Pat Lefemine 02-Apr-12
pogo 04-Apr-12
Bernie P. 06-Apr-12
Pat Lefemine 08-Apr-12
CurveBow 09-Apr-12
NorthCountry 10-Apr-12
From: Jdawg
Got a question or questions for those Tug Hill guys that lurk here. I drove up through Barnes Corners on 177 over to West Lowville taking the wife to that "new" winery over there on Yancey Rd in West Lowville. I've also gone up through 177 at various times with a neighbor who has taken me partridge hunting up there. His brother has a camp east of Barnes Corners.

My question is basically do the deer that inhabit the Tug migrate off most winters or do some of them stay up there and guts it out during the average winter? The reason I ask is that the general cover, swamps, thick spruce and pine all seem like pretty good deer habitat. In some areas there's winter wheat or rye...but not much corn mostly it seems and no beans. They do what I would call "fair" on the deer hunting at that camp some years. A few nice bucks over the years but the snow usually comes early , gets deep quick of course and stays. hell, there was fresh skiff up there today when we went through around 11:30 AM/

So, what't the scoop as far as wintering deer on the Tug? if they do walk off, are there any areas of the Tug where this (movement or migration off) is prevalent?

From: Pat Lefemine
My land is in Boonville which is on the southern edge of the Tug Hill. The deer in my area yard up and migrate in harsh winters. So I assume the deer up there in Lewis do too.

Not the last two winters - however.

BTW - the deer herd should be in great shape this year. Our deer never left our property.

From: pogo
I used to live in Camden and hunted the Camden - Osceola - Ava - Florence area for years.

Winter can be real hard on the deer there but I don't think they migrate a lot.

They tend to yard up in the hemlock swamps and any creek bottoms especially if they are near any apple trees.

You can drive in these areas during the early spring when the snow is still deep in the woods and the fields on the hills are showing bare spots and see hundreds of deer feeding to gain some weight back.

This past winter was unusually warmer and drier than what is the rule so as Pat said, the herd should be in great shape.

The locals up there will shoot any buck they see during the rifle season so unless you own a big block of land, post it AND patrol it, you will have a problem consistently seeing big bucks. But I have seen some monsters taken.

From: Bernie P.
Hey Pat I hang out in Boonville quite a bit.I'm just a few miles out of town on Moose River Rd.Maybe we can have a brew down at the Pub some day.I can hardly believe how little snow there was.Only used the snow thrower once and that was only at my folks place because they don't have 4 wheel drive.

From: Pat Lefemine
Sure Bernie. Would like that. We go to the Buffalo head all the time.

From: CurveBow
Contact DEC in Utica. Steve Herkins is the wildlife biologist. Many years ago, I accompanied DEC on a deer yard search. We walk in a line & holler to each other when a dead one is found. They check the bone marrow to see if it was winter killed (starved), or other mortality. Some are predated (predator fed). In some cases, the deer died and wasn't from starving, but was fed on heavily so the cause of death could not be precisely determined (car hit in some cases, dead from old gun/arrow wound, predator take down, etc). I remember seeing fawns sitting on a hill of snow (snow around them melted down but their bodies insulated a "pillar"), that were all curled up just as if they were sleeping.

I thought that the deer there would migrate a distance South to better areas, but that does not seem to be the case. I hunt in the Arietta area and our deer migrate about 10 - 15 miles to yarding areas. In these yards, DEC has tagged animals and found some that have come from as far as 35 miles away!

While not knowing for sure, my impression is that the Tug Hill deer stick it out. Not the best idea in many winters!


From: NorthCountry
North of Constableville (Southern Tug Hill) deer do move off the hill in the winter when the snow gets too deep to dig up food and move to the lower area farms and herd up where food is easier to get to. But they seem to always return to the same areas in the Spring to give birth.

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