WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- They love acorns, clover, maple leaves, pumpkins, sunflower seeds and road salt. Deer also love high-priced suburban landscaping, especially arborvitae, rose bushes and tulip bulbs. And they are on "the run,'' literally, between Halloween and Thanksgiving.
This is their mating time of the year. And the region's deer population is at record levels, with more than 1 million deer inhabiting New York state.
So November is when Dean Renzi, a 42-year-old bow hunter from Yonkers, gets to hone his lifelong hobby -- hunting for his family's food supply while helping private property owners control wayward deer. "I do it because I enjoy venison and I enjoy the outdoors,'' says Renzi, who began bow hunting with his father in the Catskills at the age of 13. "I would never shoot anything I don't eat."
"Venison is as organic as you can get,'' Renzi said, noting it's high in protein and has less cholesterol than chicken or turkey. He said he munches on "venison jerky instead of chips. It's a healthy snack and it tastes delicious."
So homeowners from Katonah, Somers, Yorktown and Nyack have hired Renzi to hunt on their properties to ward off property damage from deer. Bow hunting runs from Oct. 1 until Dec. 31.
Some Westchester towns, such as Greenburgh, have local laws against "discharging a projectile,'' therefore banning bow hunting. (Hunting with shotguns is prohibited in Westchester County, but allowed in Putnam County.)
Renzi said a hard winter and mild spring resulted in a strong acorn crop this fall. Deer prefer acorns from white oak trees, which are less acidic than from red oaks.
Renzi and his father average two or three deer during the hunting season. He takes them to Amato's Meat Processing in Somers, where it is butchered for $90. (If customers donate the meat to Feed the Hungry, there's no charge and Amato's will give them 20 percent of the deer for free and donate the rest.)
While hunting in Westchester, Renzi also has spotted plenty of coyotes and saw a bobcat in Bedford last November.
Renzi invited private landowners to contact him about hunting their properties by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Renzi said he doesn't charge anything in exchange for being allowed to hunt the property.
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