Bowhunters, muzzleloaders offer proposal

Canandaigua, N.Y. – New York’s major bowhunting and
muzzleloading organizations have teamed to develop a Southern Zone
deer regulations proposal that includes a youth hunt, primitive
muzzleloader hunt and earlier archery opener.

Officials from New York Bowhunters, Inc., and the New York State
Muzzleloader Association said the proposal comes after months of
effort and has been forwarded to DEC for consideration.

It comes as DEC is holding a series of statewide meetings to
gather public input on the state’s deer management.

“The DEC desires to increase the harvest of antlerless deer in
its effort to effectively manage the whitetail herd, as well as
allow for a weekend of early hunting opportunity for junior big
game firearms hunters,” the organizations said in a joint statement
issued last month. “The NYSMLA wishes to have an early ‘primitive’
muzzleloading season and NYB seeks to restore lost hunting
opportunity that occurred with the implementation of the 2005
big-game restructuring regulations. Therefore, both organizations
reached out to one another to work on a sensible proposal that
would be acceptable to firearms hunters, muzzleloader hunters,
bowhunters, the DEC and to the general public.”

The proposal put forth by the two groups calls for:

€ a 23-day regular firearms season for the Southern Zone,
opening on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

€ an Oct. 1 start date for the Southern Zone archery season,
which would run through the Friday before the regular firearms deer
opener.

€ a youth deer hunt for junior hunters ages 14-15 on the weekend
before the regular firearms deer opener.

€ a 5-day antlerless-only “primitive” muzzleloading season on
the Monday prior to the beginning of the regular firearms season,
ending on the Friday prior to the beginning of the regular firearms
season.

“The DEC follows a progression of weaponry in the Northern Zone,
starting with archery season, muzzleloader season and then
progressing into the regular firearms season,”_New York Bowhunters
President Gary Socola said. “This proposal follows the precedent
already set by the DEC.”

Socola says that over the past two years bowhunters have sent
over 8,000 letters and signatures on petitions to DEC Commissioner
Pete Grannis asking that the DEC open the Southern Zone archery
season on Oct. 1.

“I’ve heard people complain that bowhunters are greedy and that
they kill all of the bucks prior to the firearms season,”_Socola
said. “Statistically, bowhunters take a very small percentage of
bucks when compared to the regular firearms season take. If we want
to harvest more antlerless deer and expose new hunters to the
outdoors, why are we taking early season bowhunting time away from
archers and at the same time increasing their license and permit
fees?”

Socola said New York’s Southern Zone archery opener is the
latest opening date in the Northeast.

“Let’s get our youth, seniors, persons of disability and all
hunters out earlier in the season so that they can enjoy our
natural resources in better weather while helping the DEC control
our expanding deer herd,” Socola said.

The proposal doesn’t address the use of crossbows, which are
currently illegal in New York. Some sportsmen in New York contend
crossbows should be allowed at least for persons with physical
disabilities.

NYSMLA President Bill Brookover is excited about the
possibilities the proposal offers.

“The NYSMLA has tried for over 10 years to get a primitive
muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone. This proposal will allow
us to do that and also allows provisions for the youth and for
bowhunters,” he said. “Bowhunters and muzzleloader hunters are not
at odds with one another in New York state. This is not a hunter
issue but a season issue created by the DEC’s current season
structuring. By working together, our organizations are showing
sportsmen throughout New York state that we can put aside any
differences and work together toward our common goals.”

Brookover said Pennsylvania has had an early muzzleloader season
since 2000 and also offers special firearms deer seasons for both
junior and senior hunters.

“The straightforward proposal will allow increased hours a field
during warmer weather with a sunset later in the day and provide a
regular firearms season pre-Thanksgiving weekend opener. Many
hunters are off the following Thursday and Friday and can take off
the whole week, using only three additional vacation days,”
Brookover added.

New York Bowhunters, Inc., can be contacted by phone at (585)
905-0961 or by email at nyboffice@newyorkbowhunters.com
or online at the Web site www.newyorkbowhunters.com.

For information on the New York State Muzzleloaders Association,
contact them at NYSMLA Inc., 200 Clifford Drive, Vestal, NY 13850,
by email at bpb@frontiernet.net, by phone at
(315) 524-3457 or online at www.nysmla.org/.

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