Officials with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced an early season youth firearm hunt set to take place the first weekend of October. Many hunters support the decision, but various groups, most notably NY Bowhunters Inc. (NYB), have worked for months to stop the regulation from taking effect.
NYB has proposed to move up the first day of bowhunting season to October 1. An earlier bow season was implemented as part of New York’s newly-adopted five-year deer management plan and the change was announced on July 12.
This means that the youth firearm hunt and the opening bow season overlap on the first weekend of hunting.
NYB has opposed the youth hunt for some time. In November of 2011, the group issued the following statement in a press release.
NYB is opposed to conducting any type of firearms season during the bow-only seasons. There is no need to have a special youth weekend firearms big game hunt as there are plenty of opportunities to take a kid hunting over the duration of all the existing seasons. Bowhunters gave up the last weekend of their bow season in the southern zone in 2005 so that kids could participate on the opening day of the regular season. If this youth hunt is truly desired, it should be held on the 1st weekend of the regular firearms season, as has been proposed by the DEC for Suffolk County. However, the DEC is opposed to such an action upstate, as they do not want to upset those of us that gun hunt during the regular season. Obviously the DEC has little concern for the disruption that any firearms season would create during the archery-only seasons.
According to Outdoor Life’s Craig Dougherty, those opposed to the proposed dates for the hunt managed to formulate legislation cancelling the weekend hunt, but the bill has yet to be signed by New York’s governor. Unless it will be acted on before the opening of the hunt, it will not affect the youth hunt as scheduled.
Original press release issued by the New York DEC on September 14, 2012:
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has confirmed that junior hunters ages 14-15 will be able to hunt deer during a special youth firearms deer season over Columbus Day Weekend this year, October 6 through October 8, 2012.
“Implementation of this youth deer hunt is a hallmark moment for New York hunters and represents continued efforts of DEC to engage more young people in nature and outdoor recreation,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.
The youth deer hunt will take place Columbus Day weekend in both the Northern Zone and Southern Zone; a youth hunt was not established on Long Island due to restrictions in the Environmental Conservation Law. Junior hunters (ages 14-15) with a big game hunting license will be eligible to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult. Junior hunters may use a Deer Management Permit or Deer Management Assistance Program tag for an antlerless deer or, during the youth firearms season only, they may use their regular season tag to take a deer of either sex.
In areas restricted to bowhunting only (Westchester County and parts of Albany and Monroe counties), junior hunters may only use bowhunting equipment to take deer during the youth hunt weekend. “Bowhunting seasons remain open during the youth hunt, but I encourage bowhunters to set your bow aside for the weekend and be a mentor for a youth’s first firearms deer hunt,” Commissioner Martens stated.
While there is pending legislation that may impact future youth hunts, until it has been acted on, DEC’s regulations remain in effect. More details of the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt and Junior Hunter Mentoring Program for junior hunters and their mentors are available on DEC’s website.
DEC also offers special opportunities for junior hunters (ages 12-15) for waterfowl, wild turkey, and pheasants. See DEC’s website for information about these other programs.