NY Youth hunt opens, but the future is unclear

Albany — New York’s first-ever youth deer hunt has arrived, set for this holiday weekend (Oct. 6-8) with designs on boosting interest in hunting among youngsters.

The three-day offering for 14- and 15-year-old hunters accompanied by a mentor is something DEC has long looked forward to.

The hunt, cleared after Gov. Andrew Cuomo delayed addressing legislation that would cancel it, also has its detractors – notably some bowhunters who contend it will create safety issues and knock deer out of their early-season patterns.

“I haven’t heard a lot of support for it from our customers,” said Don Barrett of Barrett’s Bowhunting in Elmira Heights (Chemung County). “The biggest complaint I’m hearing is that they’re allowing them to shoot a buck or doe.

If it was doe-only, I don’t think one word would be said.”

The opposition’s loudest voice – New York Bowhunters, Inc. – made one last push to halt the hunt, urging Cuomo to sign into law legislation that would extend crossbow use within the firearms season and also prohibit the use of firearms during the regular archery season. That would, in effect, cancel the youth hunt established by DEC.

“Make sure this unnecessary and intrusive hunt is one and done by contacting the governor’s office and ask that he sign (A10583),” the group said in an email to its members.

All indications, however, are that Cuomo will not address the legislation approved by state lawmakers in the final hours of their session until after the youth hunt takes place – and possibly not even then.

DEC assistant commissioner for natural resources Kathy Moser told members of the New York State Conservation Council last month the governor would not take action on the bill until, at least, after the youth hunt.

That paves the way for DEC to offer the youth hunt for at least this season, and it’s why the department announced the hunt via a press release at mid-month, calling it “a hallmark moment for New York hunters.”

Since that time, DEC officials have been scrambling to get the word out to eligible youths and their mentors, since the official word on the youth hunt was handed down less than a month before its offering.

Even though the archery season will coincide with the youth hunt – thanks to a move to an Oct. 1 opening date in the Southern Zone – DEC Commissioner Joe Martens encouraged bowhunters “to set your bow aside for the weekend and be a mentor for a youth’s first firearms deer hunt.” 

The relatively late announcement may hinder participation in the first year of the youth hunt.

And, there’s no guarantee there will be a second year. If Cuomo signs the pending legislation, it would trump DEC’s youth hunt by prohibiting firearms use during the archery season.

There will almost assuredly be more legislative action next year as both sides of the issue lobby to have lawmakers introduce legislation that will likely center around crossbow use.

If Cuomo doesn’t sign the legislation, it 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.

Categories: Hunting News, Hunting Top Story

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