DEC: Firearms season for bear, deer hunting started this weekend

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone began Saturday, Nov. 19.

Hunters can continue to enjoy the longer hours, youth hunts, and other changes enacted last year, including requirements for blaze orange and pink to help maintain New York’s record of safe hunting.

“The regular firearms season for deer and bear in New York’s Southern Zone is the state’s most popular big game hunting season, drawing hundreds of thousands of hunters afield each year,” Seggos said. “As a cherished annual tradition in New York state, these hunting seasons are managed to maximize conservation value and balance deer and bear populations, while providing more than 11 million pounds of quality, locally grown organic meat to families statewide. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”

The 2022-23 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begins Nov. 19, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 11, and includes participation from approximately 85% of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60% of the total statewide deer harvest and a substantial part of the statewide bear harvest.

Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 12 through Dec. 20, and again from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 22, and will close on Dec. 4. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 5 through Dec. 11.

For a breakdown of New York’s hunting seasons visit DEC’s website at dec.ny.gov.

YOUTH HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES

Again this year, 12- and 13-year-old hunters may hunt deer with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed, experienced adult. This pilot program, established by the New York State Legislature through 2023, applies to counties that choose to participate. The program does not apply to Westchester or Suffolk counties. Of the eligible upstate counties, only Erie and Rockland counties have not opted into the program.

Hunters are reminded that the daily hunting hours for deer and bear now include the full daylight period, beginning 30 minutes before sunrise and continuing until 30 minutes after sunset. Hunters should check the sunrise and sunset times before hunting each day.

Hunters should also remember that anytime they are pursuing deer or bear with a firearm, they must now wear fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink clothing-either a hat, vest or jacket visible in all directions. New York hunters have an excellent safety record, but this change will make hunters even safer.

Hunters are also reminded to follow the basic rules of firearm safety:

  • 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.

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded firearm.

YOUNG BUCKS

Hunters are proving that voluntary choice works to yield more older bucks. By choosing to “Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow,” New York hunters are now seeing and taking more older bucks than ever before. Older deer yield more meat and have larger antlers.

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