Youth Big Game Weekend Instills Hunting Values, Traditions and Responsibility

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Here in Upstate New York, we have some of the best areas in the nation to hunt, trap and fish.

Each year, sportsmen have an opportunity to enjoy the thousands of waterways and millions of acres of forest and open space that are rich in wildlife.

These activities not only provide sportsmen with food and entertainment, but they also keep animal populations in check and help conserve our areas’ natural resources.

In New York State, there are almost two million men and women who hunt, trap and fish, ranking us third in the nation for the number of sportsmen obtaining licenses and permits.

In the rural areas of our state, outdoor recreation is a generational tradition and a way of life.

Locally, Oswego, Onondaga and Jefferson counties are among the top 10 counties in the state for total hunting and fishing license sales.

Sportsmen also generate significant revenue for our state.

In 2011, the last year sportsmen statistics for New York were made available, consumer spending on outdoor sports in New York State totaled more than $5 billion.

Almost $1.9 billion of that was spent on trip-related purchases including transportation, food and lodging.

In addition to consumer spending, the sales from fishing and hunting license and permits helps support various wildlife programs across the state including fish stocking programs, fish hatcheries and protection of endangered species.

As a result, these sports and family traditions can continue to have a positive impact on conservation and outdoor recreation.

When beginning to hunt, it’s important that people learn gun safety along with other outdoor safety lessons.

To this end, the DEC began a statewide Youth Firearms Big Game Hunt in 2012.

This three-day hunt offers youth hunters the opportunity to hunt big game before the more experienced hunters start their regular season.

By taking part in this early season hunt, young hunters gain valuable information from the hunter who serves as their mentor.

This year, youth ages 14 or 15 are permitted to hunt deer and bear with a firearm prior to the opening of the regular hunting season.

The youth hunt this year will be held Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 12-14.

The DEC posts rules on its website for the youth hunt, which include:

An adult mentor must be close enough to the youth to talk without the aid of a radio. The mentor must have at least three years of big game hunting experience;
Youth must have completed a course in hunter education;
Both the youth hunter and mentor must remain on the ground and not hunt from a tree stand; and
Both the youth hunter and mentor must wear hunter orange or pink which is visible from all directions.

A complete list of rules can be found at https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html#Junior_Hunters

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.

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

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.