Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Act II: N.Y. youth deer hunt returning Oct. 12-14

Waverly, N.Y. — Connor Wright just missed taking part in last year’s first ever youth deer hunt in New York state.

“I was too young last year,” the now 14-year-old Brunswick (Rensselaer County) resident said. “My birthday wasn’t until Oct. 20 (the youth hunt, for 14- and 15-year-olds, was held over the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8).”

This year, however, Wright isn’t going to miss a chance to harvest his first whitetail. That could conceivably come during the archery season, which opened Oct. 1 in the Southern Zone.

“He has his bow tuned and is ready to go,” said his dad, Rich. “But truth be known, he is really waiting for the youth weekend so he can hang up his stick and string and get out his rifle. He’s the last of my four boys and is still waiting to fill that first buck tag.”

This year’s youth hunt is set for Oct. 12-14, since the Columbus Day weekend falls a bit later this year. Hunters ages 14 and 15 can take either a buck or antlerless deer.

“We’ve got a few good bucks on our trail cams, but I’ll take whatever comes out,” said Connor, a freshman at Tamarac High School in Troy. “I’ve never killed a deer; I had one at about 100 yards during the regular season last year but I didn’t take the shot. So I’d take a doe if I get a chance.”

Last year’s youth deer hunt was labeled a rousing success by DEC officials who had lobbied for the special season. Participation was estimated at 61 percent – 7,779 of the eligible 14- and 15-year-old license holders – and DEC’s harvest tally showed about 1,400 deer were taken, including 744 bucks.

Participation may have been hindered somewhat by conflicts over the holiday weekend, and also by the on-again, off-again nature of the proposed hunt, which lingered with its fate in the hands of state lawmakers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately paved the way for the youth hunt by delaying action on legislation tied to crossbow use. That bill carried with it a clause that would have prohibited the use of firearms during the regular archery season.

“I think it (the youth hunt) will be more popular this year,” said Steve Wright of Wright’s Sporting Goods in Waverly (Tioga County). “Things were kind of up in the air last year and a lot of people weren’t aware of it.”

The youth hunt fell within the archery deer season because of a season alteration that allowed for an Oct. 1 start to the Southern Zone archery season. Some bowhunters contended the youth hunt would create safety hazards in the field and would also knock deer out of their movement patterns. However, there were no safety issues during the youth hunt and the impact on bowhunting negligible. “Hunters largely indicated their hunting was unaffected by the ongoing youth activities,” DEC officials said.

DEC officials resumed their call to bowhunters to take time out of their stand to mentor a young hunter during the youth deer hunt.

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