Junior Big Game Hunting Weekend Set Again for Columbus Holiday

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
In 2012, New York’s first Youth Firearms Deer Hunt was held on Columbus Day weekend. This has since become an annual event, thanks in part to legislation that passed in 2008 to expand big game hunting for junior hunters, those who are 14-15 years old.  The annual event is set to take place  on Columbus Day weekend again this year, October 12-14, and is organized by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

This is a fantastic program. It expands big game hunting for our youth, helps keep deer population in check, and gives families an opportunity to hunt safely together. There are guidelines, of course, that hunters need to follow. For example, during the youth deer hunt, mentors may not carry a firearm or bow to pursue deer.

Also, all must wear blaze orange.

I was a sponsor of the legislation that helped the make these weekends possible. Priorto this change, New York families were taking their kids out of state because bordering states allowed youth big game hunting.

Thankfully, youth big gaming is now allowed in New York. It’s a great opportunity to give youths the chance to learn from an experienced, licensed hunter.

In 2012, the Youth Hunt resulted in 1,411 deer taken. No injuries were reported and 61% of all eligible hunters participated. This event also helps keep the deer population in check.

There were a few other changes regarding sporting licenses that passed in the budget this year.

Mainly, these changes were an attempt to simplify the licensing structure for anglers, hunters and trappers and expand some small game opportunities. These changes are scheduled to take place in February 2014, when the state makes a new e-license system available.

Here are a few of those changes:

* License year for hunting will begin earlier, from Sept. 1-Aug. 31. This will reduce confusion and foster hunting opportunities for the squirrel and goose seasons statewide as well as the beginning of the bow season and early bear season in the Northern zone, all of which start in September. Previously, the license was valid Oct. 1 – Sept. 30.

* Fishing licenses will be valid for one full year from the date of purchase. Previously, fishing licenses were valid for the licensing year of Oct. 1-Sept.30. This means that if a licensed is purchased on June 1, it will not expire until the following year on May 31. (Currently, a license purchased on June 1 becomes invalid on Sept. 30.)

* The state reduced the number of license types, but maintained sporting privileges for residents. In short, residents will find their system slightly easier to navigate.

Not surprisingly, these changes this year came on the heels of the SAFE Act, in an attempt to pacify the outrage from responsible gun owners and the entire sporting community. Nevertheless, despite their onset, these measures are sensible.

The Governor’s office estimates that fishing and hunting have an approximately $8.1 billion impact for the state.

Broadening this sport will increase those numbers, which has a direct impact on our local economy.

In a regulatory change, the DEC recently expanded the September Canada goose season to allow for a resident goose population reduction.

When the previous regulations were established, New York’s resident Canada goose population was estimated to be around 130,000 birds. Today, according to the DEC, those numbers are well over 200,000. They hope to reduce the population to about 85,000 to alleviate the variety of problems they create in urban, suburban and rural areas.

To learn more about the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by email at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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