Deer Management Focus Areas
The Deer Management Focus Area in central Tompkins County is intended to help communities in the Ithaca area manage the burden of overabundant deer populations by intensifying deer hunting opportunities. The Deer Management Focus Area Program (PDF) provides more time and more tags to hunters who can gain access to huntable land. DEC has been evaluating this approach for several years and, depending on the results, may consider designating other locations as deer management focus areas.
Within the DMFA, registered big game hunters will be authorized to:
- take up to 2 antlerless deer per day using DMFA carcass tags during the general hunting seasons (regular season, and bow and muzzleloader seasons with appropriate special season privileges); and
- hunt antlerless deer only (limit 2 per day) during a DMFA season from the second Saturday in January through January 31 (January 13-31, 2024). During the DMFA season, a hunter may use any hunting implement that is lawful during any other deer season in that area.
Rifles may be used for big game hunting in Tompkins County. However, only bows or crossbows may be used in Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls State Parks.
How it Works
- Any person currently licensed to hunt deer may register with the DMFA program and obtain a free DMFA Permit and Carcass Tags (see details below). An additional permit must be obtained from the park to hunt in either of the State Parks.
- During the special January DMFA season, you may only hunt deer within the DMFA boundary.
- Both the DMFA permit and carcass tags must be carried while deer hunting in the DMFA. The permit and carcass tags are valid only within the DMFA.
- Only DMFA carcass tags are valid during the January DMFA season. DO NOT use other leftover tags from the regular hunting seasons (bow/muzzleloader tags, DMPs, regular big game tags).
- All DMFA registered hunters must submit a hunting activity log with reports of all deer harvested in the DMFA no later than seven days following the close of the DMFA season. The hunting activity log form will be provided with the DMFA permit.
DMFA Location and Available Hunting Lands
Available hunting lands (links leave DEC website):
- Buttermilk Falls State Park (separate permit required, select areas only; bowhunting and crossbow hunting only)
- Robert H. Treman State Park (separate permit required, select areas only; bowhunting and crossbow hunting only)
- Hunters with legal access to private lands in the DMFA may also participate in the DMFA program.
- There are no state forests or wildlife management areas within the DMFA.
Special requirement for hunting Cornell Lands: Hunting on Cornell-managed lands requires a Cornell Hunting Permit. For their enrollment period and hunting rules, check the Cornell Deer Hunting website (leaves DEC website). If you did not register with the Cornell Hunting Programs you may not hunt on Cornell lands. Trespassers will be prosecuted.
Several municipalities (e.g., the City of Ithaca and the Villages of Cayuga Heights and Lansing) prohibit the use of bows and firearms. You MUST obey those restrictions. This means that you are not allowed to hunt deer in these locations, even though they are within the DMFA boundary area. You are responsible for following ALL legal requirements and violators will be prosecuted.
To participate in the DMFA program during the 2023-2024 season, you must obtain a DMFA registration number and write the number on your DMFA Permit, DMFA Carcass Tags, and DMFA Hunting Activity Log/Harvest Report Form. Please review the DMFA Permit conditions before registering.
- Download and print the DMFA Permit, Hunting Log/Harvest Report and Carcass Tags. Please print full-size to facilitate data scanning. These documents require a DMFA registration number to be valid. You will need to carry the permit and carcass tags with you while hunting in the focus area. All registrants must complete and mail the Hunting Log/Harvest Report to DEC at the end of the DMFA season.
- Register to participate in the Tompkins County DMFA (leaves DEC website).
Need additional tags? Do you hunt more sites or days than will fit on the principal log form? Download and print additional DMFA Carcass Tags, and supplemental Hunting Log/Harvest Report sheets as needed. Please print full-size to facilitate data scanning.
Note: You do not need to register with the DMFA program if you only hunt during the general hunting seasons using your regular deer carcass tags (regular or special season, DMP or DMAP tags).