The 2011 regular deer and bear hunting seasons open at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 19 in New York's Southern Zone, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The two big game seasons close at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 11.
"Hunters provide a valuable public service by keeping deer and bear populations in check. Regulated hunting is the most effective and efficient tool to maintain wildlife populations at levels that are compatible with our communities and natural resources," Commissioner Martens said. "We expect deer harvests to be up slightly from last year, and with expanded bear hunting opportunities in the Southern Zone, big game hunters should have an exciting season."
The Southern Zone regular deer season is New York's most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York's 560,000 licensed deer hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest. The remainder occurs in the Northern Zone, on Long Island, and during special seasons when only archery or muzzleloading firearms may be used.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will open at sunrise on Monday, Dec. 12 and close at sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 22 and will close at sunset on Dec. 4. This zone generally includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, 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. 5 to Dec. 11.
Hunters should be aware of several important programs and recent changes as they prepare for the 2011 regular Southern Zone hunting season.
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. Hunters are encouraged to review hunting safety  tips and pay careful attention to basic firearm safety rules that can prevent hunting related shooting incidents:
Hunters interested in getting the most up-to-date information about deer and bear management in New York are invited to join our e-mail list, New York Big Game  at: http://lists.dec.state.ny.us/mailman/listinfo/nybiggame . You may also catch the latest updates on New York's fish and wildlife by subscribing to Field Notes , another free online e-mail list provided by DEC.
For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2011-12 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide  at DEC's website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide.