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Junior Hunter Mentoring Program

Youth Firearms Deer Hunt

14-15 Year Old Hunters can hunt Deer with a Firearm over the 3-day Columbus Day weekend

  • The Youth Firearms Deer Hunt will occur Columbus Day weekend (October 11-13, 2014)image of junior hunter with a successful antlerless harvest
  • Resident and non-resident Hunting license holders aged 14 or 15 may take 1 deer with a firearm during the youth deer hunt.
  • Junior hunters may use a Deer Management Permit (antlerless-only), Deer Management Assistance Program tag (antlerless-only), or a regular season tag. During the youth deer hunt, junior hunters may use the regular season tag for a deer of either-sex.
  • The youth deer hunt will occur in both the Northern Zone and Southern Zone, except in bowhunting only areas and Suffolk County.
  • During the youth deer hunt, mentors may not carry a firearm or bow to pursue deer.
  • Rules for 14-15 year old junior hunters and their mentors outlined below, including blaze orange requirements, also apply during the youth deer hunt.

For results of this special opportunity, see the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt Summary.

Junior Bowhunting

12 - 15 year old Bowhunters can hunt Deer and Bear with a Bow

Recent legislation lowered the minimum age from 14 to 12 years of age for youth hunters to purchase a Bowhunting license for big game hunting.

Here are the requirements for junior Bowhunters:

image of junior bowhunter
  • 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 and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). 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 and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). 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.
  • Adult mentor must maintain physical control over the junior hunter at all times while hunting. This means the mentor and junior hunter must be close enough to talk without the aid of a radio and must be able to see each other.
  • Junior Bowhunters may hunt deer and bear with a bow during the bowhunting and regular seasons.

Junior Hunting

12 - 15 Year Old Hunters can Hunt Small Game

Here are the requirements for junior hunters to hunt small game:

  • Youth must have completed a course in Hunter Education.
  • Youth must have a Hunting license.
  • 12-13 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 21 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). Adult mentor must have a license to hunt small game.
  • 14-15 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 18 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). Adult mentor must have a license to hunt small game.

14 and 15 Year Old Hunters Can Hunt Deer and Bear with a Firearm

Here are the requirements for junior hunters to hunt big game with a firearm:

  • Youth must have completed a course in Hunter Education and
  • Youth must have a Hunting license.
  • Adult mentor must be a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 21 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB).
  • Adult mentor must be licensed to hunt big game and have 3 years of big game hunting experience.
  • Adult mentor must maintain physical control over the junior hunter at all times while hunting. This means the mentor and junior hunter must be close enough to talk without the aid of a radio and must be able to see each other.
  • Both the junior hunter and mentor must remain on the ground while hunting; you may not use a tree stand or hunt from an elevated platform.
  • Both the junior hunter and mentor must wear hunter orange visible from all directions: shirt, jacket or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange (the pattern must be at least 50% orange) OR a hat with at least 50% orange.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Youth Hunt and Junior Hunter Mentoring Program

Q: Is the special "Youth Firearms Deer Hunt" season just for deer or can the junior hunter take a bear too?
A: No. The youth deer hunt is just for deer.

Q: Can both the junior hunter and the mentor carry firearms during the youth deer hunt or while hunting deer or bear during the regular season?
A: During the youth hunt, the mentor may not carry a firearm or bow to pursue deer; only the youth may have a firearm for deer hunting. During the regular or muzzleloader seasons for deer or bear, both the mentor and the youth hunter may have a firearm to hunt deer or bear.

Q: Can a junior hunter continue to hunt during the special youth deer season after they have taken a deer with a firearm?
A: If the junior hunter also holds a Bowhunting license, they can continue to hunt with a bow pursuant to the Bowhunting license.

Q: The youth deer hunt occurs during bowhunting season. Are adults allowed to continue bowhunting over Columbus Day weekend?
A: Yes, licensed adult bowhunters may hunt deer or bear with a bow over Columbus Day weekend. However, adults may not bowhunt for deer or bear while mentoring a Junior Hunter who is participating in the youth deer hunt. We recommend that adult bowhunters put their bow away for the weekend and spend time afield mentoring a junior hunter during the youth deer hunt.

Q: Can my younger brother or sister come along during the youth deer hunt?
A: Yes. Other youth or unlicensed adults may accompany a junior hunter and their mentor during the youth deer hunt, but they may not hunt or assist in the hunt (such as by driving deer).

Q: Why is Suffolk County not included in the youth deer hunt?
A: DEC is not authorized to allow deer hunting with firearms in Suffolk County prior to the special January firearms season.

Q: Do junior hunters or junior bowhunters have to comply with antler restriction regulations?
A: No. In areas where mandatory antler restrictions are in place, hunters aged 12-16 are exempt from the 3-point requirement.

Q: What if I turn 14 during the hunting season?
A: If you have a Hunting license, after you turn 14 you can return to any license issuing agent to obtain your deer and bear carcass tags at no additional fee. You can also request the tags through our DEC Automated Licensing System (DECALS) or by calling 1-866-933-2257 Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. If you turn 14 on or before October 1, you may also apply for a DMP. If you turn 14 after October 1, the DMP application period is closed. You will be able to apply for a DMP if any are offered during the extended application period beginning November 1. DMPs may be consigned to or from a junior hunter if the junior hunter is 14 or 15 years old.

Q: Isn't the Hunting license also available for 12 and 13 year old hunters?
A: Yes. A Hunting license allows 12 and 13 year olds to hunt small game and 14 and 15 year olds to hunt small and big game when appropriately accompanied. See the Junior Hunter Mentoring Page for details about age and experience requirements of the mentor.

Q: Are junior bowhunters also required to wear hunter orange and hunt from the ground?
A: No, these requirements apply only for junior hunters and their mentors when hunting deer or bear with a firearm.

Q: Are junior hunters eligible to apply for Deer Management Permits?
A: Yes. Junior hunters who are 14 or 15 and all junior bowhunters may apply for a Deer Management Permit (DMP).

Q: Who is required to use the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF, 24 kb)?
A: The permission form is required for the following when hunting or trapping with someone other than a parent or legal guardian:

  • Junior Hunters 12-13 years old hunting small game
  • Junior Hunters 14-15 years old hunting big game with a firearm
  • Junior Bowhunters 12-15 years of age
  • First time big game hunters who are 16-17 years old
  • Trappers under the age of 12

Q: What about nonresidents? Does the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program apply to nonresidents as well?
A: Yes. Nonresidents aged 12-15 can purchase a Nonresident Hunting license. All requirements are the same for resident and nonresident junior hunters, though nonresident junior hunters must pay nonresident rates for turkey tags and muzzleloading privileges.

Q: Is a 14 or 15 year old junior hunter eligible to hunt during the muzzleloader seasons?
A: Junior hunters must purchase the muzzleloading privilege to hunt during the muzzleloader season. The requirements listed at the top of this page apply for junior hunters and their mentors when hunting with muzzleloading firearms.


More about Junior Hunter Mentoring Program: