Under Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that the 2013 regular deer and bear hunting seasons open at sunrise on Saturday, November 16, in New York’s Southern Zone. These big game seasons close at sunset on Sunday, December 8.
“New York’s deer and bear populations are great resources for the state, and hunting is an important part of New York’s outdoor heritage,” said Commissioner Martens. “I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”
The Southern Zone Regular Season is New York’s most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and 30-60 percent of the statewide bear harvest. With the October 1 start to the bow season in the Southern Zone and a special Youth Firearms Deer Hunt over Columbus Day Weekend, many big game hunters have already enjoyed fruitful hunts.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will open at sunrise on December 9 and close at sunset on December 17. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened October 26 and will close at sunset on December 8. This zone generally includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain and the Champlain and St. Lawrence Valleys. A late archery and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from December 9 to December 15.
Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.
Hunters should be aware of several important programs and recent changes when they go afield for the 2013 regular hunting season.
- Rifles authorized for Ontario and Wayne counties: New legislation allows the use of rifles for big game hunting in Ontario and Wayne counties, until October 1, 2015. See “Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas” at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/35010.html for other areas where rifles can be used.
- Crossbows: Crossbows are no longer a legal implement for big game hunting in New York.
- Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD): To keep potentially infectious material out of New York, hunters are prohibited from bringing whole deer carcasses and some carcass parts into New York from any state or province with CWD, now including Pennsylvania. Find the details for CWD Regulations for Hunters (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8325.html) and read more about how to prevent the spread of CWD at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7507.html.
- Deer Management Focus Area in Tompkins County: This program will continue to assist communities in the Ithaca area with the burden of overabundant deer populations. See “Deer Management Focus Areas” at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/82382.html for information and registration.
- Reducing Harvest of Young Bucks: Mandatory antler restrictions (bucks must have at least 3 points on one side) are in effect in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W during all seasons for all hunters 17 years and older. Many hunters in other areas are voluntarily choosing not to take young, small-antlered bucks, thereby allowing most of these bucks to live another year, get a bit bigger and grow slightly larger antlers. Through the personal choice of thousands of hunters, we’ve seen a shift in the annual buck harvest to include an increasing number and percentage of older bucks. For more information see “Voluntary Antler Restrictions” at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27663.html#Voluntary.
- Junior Hunters: Junior Hunters (14 and 15 years old) can hunt deer and bear with a firearm when appropriately accompanied by an experienced adult. See the “Junior Hunter Mentoring” webpage at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html for program requirements and to download the Mentored Youth Hunter Permission Form.
- Harvest Reporting: All successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within 7 days. Failure to report harvested deer or bear is a violation of NYS Environmental Conservation Law. Hunters may report via DEC’s online reporting system at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).
- Black Bear Tooth Collection: Successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth of their bear so DEC can age the bear and monitor bear population dynamics. See Bear Tooth Collection at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/45598.html for instructions.
- Venison Donation: Hunters are encouraged to participate in the Venison Donation program (http://www.venisondonation.com/). By obtaining permits and donating ones deer, hunters help accomplish the needed deer management and can feed less fortunate families.
Although safety-conscious hunters have significantly reduced the number of firearms-related injuries, studies show that individuals wearing hunter orange clothing are seven times less likely to be injured than hunters who do not wear the bright fluorescent color. Hunters are encouraged to review hunting safety tips available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9186.html and pay careful attention to basic firearm safety rules that can prevent hunting related shooting incidents including:
- Point your gun in a safe direction.
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
- Be sure of your target and beyond.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Remember to wear Hunter Orange.
For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37136.html. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide.
Logo courtesy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation