Legislation leaves some clear losers
New York sportsmen got at least some answers with the passage of legislation that essentially extends crossbow use for another two years, albeit only in the regular firearms and late muzzleloader deer seasons.
It wasn't what crossbow proponents wanted to hear, but you could make the argument that crossbow users weren't the big losers in the final hours of the legislative session when all this came down. In fact, they didn't actually lose anything; they just didn't get the expanded crossbow use into the regular archery seasons they were looking for.
Still, you don't have to look far to find some losers in all this.
For starters, youth hunters, who were poised to see the state's first ever youth deer hunt over the Columbus Day weekend, saw those possibilities quashed by a clause within the legislation that prohibits a firearms offering of that kind within the regular archery season. And since the state's deer plan proposes an Oct. 1 archery opener in the Southern Zone and the Northern Zone bow season is already in session at that time, youth hunters are left out of the special deer hunt equation.
Too, DEC's fish and wildlife division also took a hit on this, since the legislation essentially trumps the department's season-setting authority by restricting the youth deer hunt within the regular archery season. It remains to be seen – and it will likely be seen this week – if DEC's final version of the deer plan includes that youth deer hunt, but if it doesn't it's simply a move designed to put a good face on this whole mess. Make no mistake, this was a youth offering DEC wanted and was looking forward to kicking off.
What's doubly disappointing to DEC fish and wildlife officials is that the bill was offered up by the chairman of the Assembly's environmental conservation committee, Assemblyman Robert Sweeney of Suffolk County. It's a disturbing trend, this "we know best" attitude of state lawmakers when it comes to managing our fish and wildlife, and this has to be another blow to the morale of the fish and wildlife folks who worked so hard on the deer management plan, only to see a slice of it struck down by state lawmakers.
It's not the first time; we saw it last year when antler restrictions were implemented in a single WMU with the stroke of a legislative pen, after publication of the hunting regs guide. Lawmakers also meddled in crossbow legislation last year, with a bill prohibiting their use even during the regular deer season in Cortland County.
Sadly, we'll probably see more of this kind of legislative trumping of DEC management efforts in the future.
And when that happens, we all lose.