As we roll toward a new hunting season there are several changes increasing the deer hunting opportunities. One of the changes is a new law allowing 12 and 13 year old youth to hunt with a firearm and crossbow when accompanied by an adult. While most Upstate New York Counties adopted the new measure, Oneida County is one of just a few counties not opting-in to expand the hunting age.

The New York State Legislature approved the new law, (ECL 11-0935) as a temporary program to run through 2023. Even though passed at the state level, the program required counties to pass a local law to allow the hunting opportunity and then notify the DEC of such passage. Currently, the law was passed in all counties, expect Oneida, Tompkins, Albany, and Erie.

DEC.gov

Here are the requirements of the new law passed by the state:

  • allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm in areas where and during the hunting seasons in which such firearms may be used, including during the Youth Firearms Big Game Hunt over Columbus Day weekend;
  • allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a crossbow during the times when other hunters may use crossbows;
  • requires supervision of a licensed adult hunter (aged 21 years or older) with at least 3 years of experience hunting deer who maintains physical control over the youth hunter at all times;
  • requires the youth hunter and adult mentor to wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing and to remain at ground level while hunting deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader.

Junior bowhunting requirements include those specifications plus a few other rules:

  • Youth must have completed a course in both Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education.
  • Youth must have a Bowhunting license.
  • 12-13 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 21 years or older. Adult mentor must have at least 3 years of experience hunting deer or bear with a bow and have a license to hunt big game in the same seasons.
  • 14-15 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 18 years or older. Adult mentor must have at least 1 year of experience hunting deer or bear with a bow and have a license to hunt big game in the same seasons.
  • Junior Bowhunters may hunt deer and bear with a bow during the bowhunting and regular seasons.
  • Junior bowhunters do not have to wear orange and/or hunt from the ground.

Hunting and trapping licenses for the 2021-2022 season are on sale now. Unlike fishing licenses which are valid for one year from date of purchase, hunting and trapping licenses are valid September 1, 2021 through August 31 2022. Licenses and permits can be purchased online, at license-issuing agents, or by telephone at 866-933-2257.

All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers will have to pass a hunter education course before getting a license. In-person courses include a field day where hunters can get hands-on experience. They are free of charge but seating is limited. An online course is also available at a cost of $19.95. More information on both courses are available at this DEC website. Here's more information on Junior Big Game Hunting in New York.

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