A resolution for 2021: Know hunting and fishing regs

Yes, You Need A Duck Stamp When Good Hunting ... And More

If you are going to be a true hunter or angler, you need to know and understand the regulations for the waters you intend to fish or the woods, fields, and waters you intend to hunt. It cannot be any plainer than that. Hunting and fishing come with a certain amount of responsibility. As the stewards of our natural resources, we need to chart a course along the high road and lead by example.

While social media does have a time and place for many things, it also allows some people to take a short cut or pass along some of that responsibility on to others. The other day someone posted on a popular site:

“Do I need a duck stamp for goose hunting? It’s a duck stamp.”

It makes you wonder if they even attempted to read any of the waterfowl regulations for New York. And they did not even know about the Harvest Information Program (HIP) number that needed to be obtained before you can go waterfowl hunting!

Someone else wanted to hunt the Alabama Swamps (what people in Western New York refer to as the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, and well as the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas of the state. This is 20,000 acres of public land, but not all of it is open for waterfowl. The refuge has certain days you can hunt and is a bit more restrictive on where and when. The WMAs also have areas that are off-limits for hunting. On top of all that, there are boundaries that must be followed for geese for seasons and limits.

The Swamps is in the West Central Area for Canada goose, meaning the late season did not open until Dec. 21 and will close Jan. 3. The daily limit on birds is 2 per person per day. However, just a little to the west, the South Area has been open since Oct. 24 and will continue through Jan. 9. The daily limit is 5 birds per person per day. Quite a difference. The amazing thing is that not everyone had accurate information in responding to the original post.

One of the biggest points of confusion with deer hunting is when you can and cannot use a crossbow. During the late archery and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone, posts always come up wondering if a crossbow can be used in the mid-December season. Some people still do not realize that a muzzleloader privilege is required to use a crossbow, not an archery/bow privilege. And, yes, you can use a crossbow during the late hunt.

Another point of misinformation also involves the crossbow. The specifications for what qualify as a legal crossbow in New York is important to know, before you purchase one of these management tools. The minimum width is 17 inches, from the outer tips of the limbs (excluding wheels and cams, uncocked). The arrow (or bolt) must have a minimum length of 14 inches, not including the legal broadhead. It must have a draw weight of 100 to 200 pounds. You must be 14 years of age or older to be able to use a crossbow.

While the NY Crossbow Coalition is attempting to change the antiquated list of specs, for the time being we must live by them. Purchasing an illegal crossbow by New York standards has only the buyer to blame. You cannot say that the company sold it to you, and they should be responsible.

In the fishing arena, there are many regulations that are based on locations or a specific body of water. There are inland regulations, Finger Lakes regulations and Great Lakes regulations. Do your research before you go out on the water for a specific species of fish.

Let us look at inland trout in New York. The season runs from April 1 to Oct. 15 for the most part with a daily limit of 5 fish, any size. That April 1 open day is promoted by the state DEC, the folks at I Love NY and through many fishing contests across the state. However, April 1 is not the opening date for the Great Lakes tributaries off Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. And Oct. 15 is not the closing date. The Great Lakes tributaries are open all year to trout. The regulations vary from lake to lake.

For Lake Ontario tributaries, the minimum size is 15 inches for a brown trout but 25 inches for a rainbow/steelhead. You may now keep only one brown trout and only one rainbow/steelhead in your creel. The lake regulations are different than the streams for rainbow/steelhead. Only 2 rainbow/steelhead may be taken per person and minimum size is 21 inches. Up to three brown trout may be taken as part of your 3-fish creel (trout and salmon) in the lake. Are you starting to see why it is important to read the regulations?

On Lake Erie tributaries, the daily limit is three in combination for trout with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Last spring, there was a post on Facebook that talked about the great fishing he had with his kids in a harbor off Lake Ontario. In the post, there was 20-something rainbows (stockers, well under the 25-inch minimum size and well over the 1 fish per person limit) that had been stocked around the April 1 opening day – yearlings that were meant as a put-grow-take program for the lake. Do you think they read the regulations?

Yes, it is important to know the regulations. Environmental Conservation Officers cannot be everywhere. You can lend them a hand by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267) and report any violations you come across. You can remain anonymous. For a complete list of ECO’s in the state (by county), check out the fishing regulations guide or the hunting and trapping regulations guide. Yes, they print them up and can be found at license-issuing agents. They are also online at www.dec.ny.gov.

Oh, and yes, it is a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp!

Categories: Blog Content, Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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