(WSYR-TV) — The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people interested in deer hunting, as more people want to spend their time outdoors during the pandemic.

There will be more people in the woods this fall for all types of reasons.

Basil Seggos, New York State’s DEC Commissioner, said. “We expect this to be a very significant and popular hunting year.”

Since the pandemic started, New York has seen an almost unprecedented increase in the number of licensed hunters.

With an online option to take your hunters certification, New York saw a 105% increase in people completing the course compared to the traditional in-person courses offered in 2019.

“40% of the people who took the course are women, which is a fantastic thing,” Seggos said. “We have spent an enormous amount of time at DEC to broaden the sport and attract new hunters.”

More licenses also means more revenue for New York State, which is desperately needed. 

In the first two weeks alone, more than $6.2 million worth of licenses were sold. In comparison, only around $3.5 million worth of licenses were sold for the first two weeks in 2019.

“All of these numbers are really good. They’re good for the economy, they’re good for the community, but we really want safety to be the number one thought on everyone’s mind when they go out into the woods this year. It’s our top priority,” Seggos said.

Regular deer season has already begun in the northern part of New York. Gun season for deer in the southern zone starts on November 21.