New York Junior Hunting Season Opens Nov 15th

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A major change to expand big-game hunting to 14- and 15-year-olds highlights the upcoming opening of the 2008 Southern Zone regular deer and the Catskill and Allegany bear seasons, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced.

Earlier this year, Governor David A. Paterson signed into law a bill that created a special "junior hunter" mentoring program which will allow persons aged 14 and 15 to hunt big game with a firearm while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter http://www.ny.gov/governor/press/press_0724082.html. Prior to that, New York was the only state in the nation where 14-year-olds could not hunt big game with a firearm. For program requirements and to download the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form please visit the DEC's website.

"Through Governor Paterson's leadership, this long-sought measure has become a reality," Commissioner Grannis said. "Historically, responsible hunting has been valuable in instilling youth with an appreciation of the state's abundant natural resources and a responsibility to act as environmental stewards. This bill will increase opportunities for young people to get out of the house and experience the outdoors."

Among other changes for the upcoming season, rifles have been approved for use in Madison County and bear hunting areas have been expanded. (Details below)

The 2008 regular deer hunting season opens at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 15 in the Southern Zone, as does regular bear hunting season in the Catskill Bear Hunting. Opening day in the Allegany Bear Hunting area of central and western New York is Nov. 22. These big game hunting seasons close at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 7. More details are available in the 2008-09 New York Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, including a map illustrating the specific boundaries and season dates for the Catskill and Allegany Bear Hunting areas.

The "Late Archery" and muzzleloading seasons for deer and bear in the Southern Zone open at sunrise on Dec. 8 and close at sunset on Dec. 16. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges. During the late special seasons, hunters may use either of their bowhunting and muzzleloading tags, and they may also take a deer of either sex with an unused regular season deer tag. Unused Deer Management Permits (DMPs) may also be used in the late seasons for antlerless deer in the unit for which they were issued.

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 18; both will close Dec. 7. This zone includes the Adirondacks, the Tug Hill Plateau, the Eastern Lake Ontario Plain and the Champlain and St. Lawrence Valleys. A late muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 8 to Dec. 14.

Besides the expansion of the junior hunters' license, hunters are reminded that several changes have occurred for the 2008 hunting seasons:

  • --New areas are open for black bear hunting. DEC has adopted new regulations that expand bear hunting to 13 additional Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in central and western New York. The regulations are in effect immediately and will allow hunters to pursue bears in these areas during the bowhunting, regular, and muzzleloading bear hunting seasons in the Southern Zone. The expansion is a continuation of efforts to manage bear population growth and range expansion. For a map of the areas opening to bear hunting please visit the DEC's website.
  • --Rifles are approved for big-game hunting in Madison County. This law was approved by the State Legislature for just one year and will expire in 2009.
  • --Rifles are approved for big-game hunting in Chemung, Steuben, and Yates Counties. This law was set to expire in 2008 but was extended till 2011.
  • --DEC now offers Online Game Harvest Reporting. Successful hunters are required to report their take of deer, bear, and turkey. Hunters may report via the Department's new online reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

DEC will continue implementation of the statewide Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance program, testing deer tissue for the presence of the disease in New York. More than 24,000 wild deer, including more than 5,500 from the CWD Containment Area, were tested for CWD in New York since the discovery of CWD in several wild and captive deer in April 2005.

No additional animals have tested positive for the disease. Within the "CWD Containment Area" of Oneida and Madison counties, special restrictions remain in place governing how harvested deer and specific deer parts may be possessed, transported, and disposed. Mandatory testing of all deer taken in the CWD Containment Area will be occurring again this fall, as well as random testing in other counties throughout the state. Successful hunters in the Containment Area will have the option to bring the deer head only or the entire carcass to the Oneida Deer Check Station. Hunters bringing deer, elk or moose carcasses into New York from most other states and Canadian provinces and territories (some eastern states and provinces excepted), must process them to remove tissues of concern prior to import. Specific guidelines regarding CWD can be found in the 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or on the DEC website.

Commissioner Grannis reminds hunters to follow basic firearm safety rules that can prevent hunting related shooting incidents:

  • * Point your gun in a safe direction.
  • * Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  • * Be sure of your target and beyond.
  • * Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  • * Remember to wear Hunter Orange.

Although safety-conscious hunters have significantly reduced the number of firearms-related injuries, studies show that individuals wearing hunter orange clothing are seven times less likely to be injured than hunters who do not wear the bright fluorescent color. During big game hunting season, people who wear hunter orange are 16 times less likely to be the victim of a visibility-related mishap, and 23 times less likely to be killed in such an incident. For more hunting tips, please visit the DEC webpage "Hunting Safety."

DEC also invites hunters to join New York Big Game, DEC's e-mail outlet for information on black bear and white-tailed deer in the state. Subscribers to this e-mail list will periodically receive information from DEC about bear and deer biology, management, research, regulations and hunting. To subscribe to New York Big Game, visit DEC's website.