Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

DEC-backed youth hunting bill offered

Albany – Another mentored hunt bill – this one supported by the
DEC and its commissioner – has been introduced in the state

The bill (A11033) has 17 sponsors from the Assembly and differs
slightly from a similar proposal (S1284) already passed by the
state Senate earlier this year.

It parallels the proposal of the DEC to allow 14- and
15-year-olds to hunt deer and bear if they’re accompanied by an
adult hunter.

The DEC-backed bill is now a two-House bill; A11033’s companion
bill in the Senate is S8228. The Assembly’s Environmental
Conservation Committee was scheduled to address the bill earlier
this month.

“I’m very hopeful for this year,” said Wally John, who handles
special projects for the DEC and has seen similar youth hunting
bills die legislative deaths in the past – usually in the
Democratic-led Assembly.

“I expect a fairly tight vote in the Assembly (environmental
conservation) committee, then it’s got a long wait to the floor.
But it should make it by the end of the session. And I expect to
see the Volker bill amended or a new bill introduced in the Senate
and passed.”

Sportsmen and women gained renewed hope this year that the
state’s minimum big-game hunting age, at 16 the highest in the
nation, would be lowered through passage of legislation that would
put more young hunters in the field. That hope came when DEC
Commissioner Pete Grannis, a former longtime Assembly member,
indicated he supported the measure and made it a priority of the

Volker’s Senate bill mandates that each youth must be
accompanied by an adult hunter at least 21 years of age. It also
limited the mentor and the youth to just one gun, which would be
handled by the mentor when the pair were moving.

While Volker’s version didn’t require either the youth or mentor
to wear blaze orange (which isn’t required in New York state), the
Assembly bill requires a blaze orange hat, cap or vest be worn by
both as an additional safety measure.

“Both (the mentor and youth hunter) would be allowed to have a
gun under the Assembly bill,” John noted. “And tree stands would
not be allowed in the departmental bill; the Volker bill was silent
on that issue.”

The Assembly bill essentially allows 14- and 15-year-olds to
hunt deer and bear with a firearm; they are already allowed to hunt
small game in New York beginning at age 12. The legislation would
also create a trapper mentoring program.

“Allowing interested youths to hunt deer and bear with a firearm
can foster lifelong participation in this outdoor sport and help
increase recruitment of hunters,” said a statement in support of
the legislation. “Requiring strict supervision by experienced
sportsmen and sportswomen enhances opportunities to develop a
strong safety ethic in young hunters.”

The statement also notes that New York youths at the age of 12
have been allowed to hunt small game with a firearm since 1991.
“This specific group of young hunters has demonstrated the best
safety record of any age group in the state,” the statement

Lawmakers sponsoring the bill also noted that the influx of new,
young hunters into the sport could help the state manage its deer
herd; would enable many veteran hunts to head afield with their
children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews; and could eventually
provide a boost to the state’s cash-strapped Conservation Fund. If
the legislation passes the Assembly and Senate this session, it
could conceivably become law for the fall hunting season.

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