New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that bowhunting seasons for deer and bear will begin in the Northern Zone on Sept. 27 and in the Southern Zone on Oct. 1.

“New York is home to some of the best bowhunting opportunities in the nation. With mild weather, longer days, and deer in early season feeding patterns, the early bow season is a great time to be in the woods and a perfect opportunity to introduce new hunters to deer hunting,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Last year, more than 235,000 hunters obtained bowhunting privileges in New York State.”

Youth Big Game Hunt

New York’s annual Youth Big Game Hunt on Columbus Day weekend has expanded to include bear and deer. On Oct. 6-8, licensed 14- and 15-year-olds may use a firearm to hunt big game while accompanied by an experienced, licensed adult hunter. All eligible junior hunters may take one deer (either sex) and one bear. During the youth hunt, antlerless deer taken with a firearm may be tagged with a regular season tag, Deer Management Permit, or Deer Management Assistance Program tags. Antlered deer may only be tagged with the regular season tag. Though junior hunters may have multiple deer tags, they may only take one deer with a firearm during the Youth Big Game Hunt.

This special hunting opportunity takes place throughout the state, except in Suffolk County and in bowhunting-only areas. The Youth Big Game Hunt is a great way for experienced, adult hunters to help young people have an enjoyable and successful hunt. Additional rules that apply to junior hunters and their adult mentors can be found on pages 36 and 37 of the Hunting & Trapping Guide or through the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program.

Deer Management Permit Deadline is Oct. 1

The deadline to apply for deer management permits (DMPs) is fast approaching, and hunters must apply for DMPs by Oct. 1. Hunters should review their chances of selection before applying. The application fee for DMPs is $10. The fee is waived for junior hunters and Lifetime License holders who purchased a Lifetime (Sportsman) License prior to October 1, 2009.
DMPs are DEC’s most effective wildlife management tool and recreational deer hunting provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy a day afield and provide sustainably harvested food for New York families. Hunters that have purchased a hunting license are eligible to apply for up to two DMPs that may be used to harvest antlerless deer from a specified Wildlife Management Unit. Antlerless deer harvest is crucial in helping to balance the deer herd with available habitat.

Sporting licenses and permits for the 2018-19 license year can be obtained at any one of DEC’s 1,300 license issuing outlets, by phone at 866-933-2257, or online through our DECALS website.

DEC encourages hunters to use the new e-license and game harvest reporting tool called HuntFishNY. Through this mobile app, hunters, anglers and trappers can access an electronic version of their licenses and privileges, and report the harvest of deer, bear and turkey immediately while afield on their mobile device. Hunters can download this new feature from the DEC’s official mobile app, NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife by Pocket Ranger, which is available from either the Apple App or Google Play stores.

Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow

Commissioner Seggos reminds hunters to consider letting young bucks grow into older, larger bucks in future hunting seasons.

“I encourage bowhunters across the state to pass up shots on young bucks, and in areas where deer populations are larger than desired, to focus their hunting on antlerless deer,” Seggos said.

Take It, Tag It, Report It!

DEC would also like to remind hunters of the importance of reporting their harvest. Harvest reporting is critical to wildlife management, and by regulation, hunters must report their harvest of deer, bear, and turkey within seven days of taking the animal. DEC encourages hunters to, “Take it, tag it, and then report it.” In addition, DEC encourages hunters to use the online and mobile systems to report their harvest. Hunters may still use the phone report system, but may find the online and mobile systems faster and more convenient.

Venison Donation Program

Big game hunters are reminded that they can help feed the hungry by making a monetary contribution to the Venison Donation Program at any license-issuing outlet. License buyers should inform the sales agent if they are interested in donating $1 or more to support the program. Since 1999, these funds have been used by the Venison Donation Coalition to process more than 330 tons of highly nutritious venison, the equivalent of 2.8 million meals served. Learn more about the Venison Donation Coalition program.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety

While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos is encouraging hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunter Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

  1. Point your gun in a safe direction.
  2. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  3. Be sure of your target and beyond.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

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 rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.

For more information on these and other important hunting safety tips, please learn more about Hunter Safety Basics and watch videos about hunter safety (leaves DEC website) and tree stand safety (leaves DEC website) for more tips on avoiding accidents.