The 2011-2012 Southern Zone bowhunting season and Northern Zone muzzleloader season for deer and bear begin at sunrise on Saturday, October 15.  The Southern Zone includes most of upstate New York outside of the Northern Zone, except for Westchester County. The Northern Zone, generally includes the Adirondacks, the Tug Hill Plateau, the eastern Lake Ontario plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys.

“The early seasons are a great time to be in the woods,” said Commissioner Joe Martens.  “With recent legislation now allowing 12-13 year olds to purchase a Junior Bowhunting license, we encourage adult hunters to share their passion, experience, and time with a junior hunter this year.”

Hunters are reminded of several other changes for the upcoming hunting seasons:

  • Mandatory antler restrictions are in effect during bow and gun hunting seasons this year in a portion of Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 3A in the Catskills (part of Delaware, Sullivan and Ulster counties).  The new law, established by the New York State Legislature, covers the portion of WMU 3A that lies south and west of State Route 28 and requires that bucks taken in this part of WMU 3A have at least one antler with 3 or more points that are at least 1 inch long.  The law applies to all public and private lands and all hunting seasons in the affected portion of WMU 3A.  Only hunters under the age of 17 are exempt and they may take any antlered deer with at least one antler measuring three or more inches in length.  See www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27663.html for more information about antler restrictions in New York.
  • Bear hunting has been expanded in eastern New York, from Westchester to Washington County, and is open during the same time periods as deer hunting.  For specific bear hunting areas and season dates, visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28605.html#Black.
  • Crossbows may NOT be used during the early bowhunting or early muzzleloading seasons, but crossbows may be used during the regular firearms and late muzzleloader seasons.  See Crossbow Hunting at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/68802.html for more information and the Certificate of Qualification.

DEC encourages bowhunters to participate in the Bowhunter Sighting Log www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7193.html.  The Bowhunter Sighting Log involves keeping a diary of your bowhunting activity and the number of animals seen.  These data help DEC track deer and other wildlife populations.  To participate, e-mail DEC at fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (specify Bowhunter Sighting Log in the subject line) and provide name, address, hunter ID (back tag number), a list of the counties where you hunt, and whether or not you have participated in New York’s bowhunter log in any previous year.

Additional information that may be of interest for hunters includes:

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