For Release: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
DEC Announces Nov. 19 Opening of Southern Zone Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons
The 2011 regular deer and bear hunting seasons open at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 19 in New York's Southern Zone, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The two big game seasons close at sunset on Sunday, Dec. 11.
"Hunters provide a valuable public service by keeping deer and bear populations in check. Regulated hunting is the most effective and efficient tool to maintain wildlife populations at levels that are compatible with our communities and natural resources," Commissioner Martens said. "We expect deer harvests to be up slightly from last year, and with expanded bear hunting opportunities in the Southern Zone, big game hunters should have an exciting season."
The Southern Zone regular deer season is New York's most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York's 560,000 licensed deer hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest. The remainder occurs in the Northern Zone, on Long Island, and during special seasons when only archery or muzzleloading firearms may be used.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will open at sunrise on Monday, Dec. 12 and close at sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 22 and will close at sunset on Dec. 4. This zone generally includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 5 to Dec. 11.
Hunters should be aware of several important programs and recent changes as they prepare for the 2011 regular Southern Zone hunting season.
- New Bear Hunting Areas: Bear hunting has been expanded in eastern New York to now include the counties east of the Hudson River from Westchester County north to Washington County, and is open during the same time periods as deer hunting.
- Crossbows: Crossbows may be used during the regular deer and bear hunting seasons and during the late muzzleloading seasons. See DEC's website for more Crossbow Hunting information.
- Black Bear Tooth Collection: Successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth of their bear so DEC can age the bear and monitor bear population dynamics. See the bear tooth collection website for instructions.
- Mandatory Antler Restrictions: A new law covers the portion of wildlife management unit (WMU) 3A that lies south and west of State Route 28 (which includes parts of Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware counties) and requires that bucks taken in this part of the unit have at least one antler with three or more points that are at least one inch long. The law applies to all public and private lands and all hunting seasons in the affected portion of the unit. Mandatory antler restrictions are also in effect in WMUs 3C, 3H, 3J, and 3K (which include portions of Ulster and Sullivan counties). Only hunters under the age of 17 are exempt and may take any antlered deer with at least one antler measuring three or more inches in length. See DEC's website for Antler Restrictions in New York for more information.
- Harvest Reporting: Hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. Failure to report harvested deer or bear is a violation of NYS Environmental Conservation Law. Hunters may report via an online reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).
- Junior Hunters: Junior Hunters (14 and 15 years old) can hunt deer and bear with a firearm when appropriately accompanied by an experienced adult. See the junior hunter mentoring webpage for program requirements and to download the mentored youth hunter permission form.
- Venison Donation: Hunters are encouraged to participate in the Venison Donation program. By filling your permits and donating your deer, you help accomplish the needed deer management and you can feed less fortunate families. For more information visit DEC's website.
- Trespass: Property owners who have problems with trespassers should contact DEC's tip line 24 hours a day/seven days a week at 1-800-847-7332. For more information about posting property against trespass visit DEC's website.
Although safety-conscious hunters have significantly reduced the number of firearms-related injuries, studies show that individuals wearing hunter orange clothing are seven times less likely to be injured than hunters who do not wear the bright fluorescent color. Hunters are encouraged to review hunting safety tips and pay careful attention to basic firearm safety rules that can prevent hunting related shooting incidents:
- Point your gun in a safe direction.
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
- Be sure of your target and beyond.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- Remember to wear hunter orange.
Hunters interested in getting the most up-to-date information about deer and bear management in New York are invited to join our e-mail list, New York Big Game. For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2011-12 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide at DEC's website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide.