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Opportunities for Junior Hunters & Trappers

A successful youth hunter with her father and hunting dog.

DEC provides several specific opportunities for junior hunters (licensees ages 12-15) and trappers (under 12 years old) to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters and trappers. As a result, they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting and trapping community.

Permission Form Required for Youth Hunters and Trappers

Use the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) whenever a junior trapper (age 12 or younger), junior hunter (age 15 or younger), or first time big game hunter who is 16 or 17 years of age is accompanied by an experienced, licensed adult who is not their parent.

Junior Big Game Hunting

  • Youths 12 years and older may hunt big game with a bow, and youths 14 years and older may hunt big game with a firearm when properly licensed and while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter.
  • See Junior Big Game Hunting for details.

Junior Small Game Hunting

  • Youth may participate in all general small game seasons.
  • 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 (permission form required). 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 (permission form required). Adult mentor must have a license to hunt small game.

Junior Trapping

  • Interested in trapping, but don't know how you can get started? If you are under 12 years old you may accompany and assist a licensed trapper who has at least 3 years of trapping experience, thanks to the trapper mentoring program.

Special Seasons for Junior Hunters

Youth Firearms Deer Hunt

DEC offers a special Youth Firearms Deer Hunt over the 3-day Columbus Day weekend each October. Junior hunters (ages 14-15) will be eligible to take 1 deer with a firearm during this season.

Youth Wild Turkey Hunt

DEC established a special youth hunt for turkeys in spring 2004. More than 5,000 junior hunters have taken to the woods each year with their adult companions to take advantage of this special opportunity.

Youth Pheasant Hunt

Pheasant hunting was one of the first hunting experiences for many of today's adult hunters. This two-day hunt will help maintain this traditional introduction to hunting. Youth pheasant hunts take place on the last full weekend prior to the start of the regular fall pheasant hunting season in each area of upstate New York.

Youth Waterfowl Hunt

DEC established youth waterfowl hunting days in 1996. This is a special two-day hunt prior to the regular season in each waterfowl hunting zone. It provides young waterfowl hunters with the opportunity to spend time afield with an experienced adult hunter pursuing ducks, geese, and brant.