New York Youth hunt gets green light
Albany — DEC is moving forward with its youth deer hunt over the Columbus Day weekend after legislation that would have halted the hunt has yet to get signed into law.
The department issued a press release announcing the Oct. 6-8 firearms deer hunt for 14- and 15-year-olds accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens called the youth hunt, established as part of DEC's five-year deer management plan, "a hallmark moment for New York hunters."
The youth hunt had been threatened by legislation governing crossbow use. A bill that would extend crossbow use in the regular firearms and late muzzleloading seasons included a provision that would prohibit firearms use during archery season.
DEC's press release did note, however, the pending legislation approved by the Senate and Assembly but not yet signed into law. "Until it has been acted on, DEC’s regulations remain in effect," the release said.
It wasn't clear if there was any chance that legislation could be signed before the scheduled youth hunt.
It also wasn't clear whether the legislation, if left unsigned by Gov, Andrew Cuomo, could leave crossbow hunters without an opportunity to use those implements during the regular firearms and late muzzleloader seasons. The current crossbow regulations are set to expire at the end of the year.
DEC officials said the youth deer hunt will be held in both the Northern Zone and Southern Zone, but not on Long Island, where regulations limit firearms use. Participating youths will be able to take a buck or antlerless deer using their regular-season tag, or a Deer Management Permit or Deer Management Assistance Program tag to harvest an antlerless deer.
In areas restricted to bowhunting only (Westchester County and parts of Albany and Monroe counties), junior hunters may only use bowhunting equipment to take deer during the youth hunt weekend. “Bowhunting seasons remain open during the youth hunt, but I encourage bowhunters to set your bow aside for the weekend and be a mentor for a youth’s first firearms deer hunt,” Martens stated.
More details of the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt and rules for junior hunters and their mentors are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html.
Check for updated news on the New York Outdoor News website and in the Oct. 5 edition of NYON.