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For Release: Thursday, September 23, 2021

DEC Announces Bowhunting Seasons for Deer and Bear

Northern Zone Opens Sept. 27; Southern Zone Opens Oct. 1

Youth Big Game Hunt Opens Columbus Day Weekend

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that bowhunting seasons for deer and bear will begin in the Northern Zone on Sept. 27, and in the Southern Zone on Oct. 1.

"New York provides terrific opportunities for bowhunters," Commissioner Seggos said. "Mild weather, longer days, and new hunting hours extending 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset make the early bow season a great time to be in the woods with friends and family."

DEC has initiated several changes to big game seasons this year through regulations. Bowhunters may only use crossbows during latter portions of bow seasons: the last 10 days of the Northern Zone bow season (Oct. 13-22); and the last 14 days of the Southern Zone bow season (Nov. 6-19). To hunt with a crossbow during these periods, the law requires bowhunters to possess a muzzleloader privilege and a crossbow qualifications certificate (see the Crossbow Hunting webpage on DEC's website for details).

The application deadline for Deer Management Permits (DMPs) is Oct. 1. Hunters should know which Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) they intend to hunt before applying. To learn more, visit DMP Availability and Probability of Selection webpage for DMP availability and chances of being selected in each WMU.

Youth Big Game Hunt

New York's annual Youth Big Game Hunt is Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 9-11. New this year, 12- and 13-year-old hunters may join 14- and 15-year-olds participating in upstate counties that have passed a local law for these junior hunters to hunt deer with firearms, which currently includes all counties north of Westchester, with the exception of Erie and Rockland counties. During this special opportunity, licensed 12-15-year-olds may use a firearm to hunt big game while accompanied by an experienced, licensed adult hunter. All eligible junior hunters may take one deer of either sex and 14- and 15-year-olds may also take one bear. During the youth hunt, antlerless deer taken with a firearm may be tagged with a regular season tag, DMP, or a Deer Management Assistance Program tag. Antlered deer may only be tagged with the regular season tag. Though junior hunters may have multiple deer tags, they may only take one deer with a firearm during the Youth Big Game Hunt.

This Youth Big Game Hunt takes place throughout the State, except in Suffolk and Westchester counties and bowhunting-only areas. Additional rules that apply to junior hunters and their adult mentors can be found on pages 36 and 37 of the Hunting & Trapping Guide or through the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program.

Take it, Tag it, Report it!

DEC reminds hunters of the importance of reporting their harvest. Harvest reporting is critical to wildlife management, and hunters are required to report their harvest of deer, bear, and turkey within seven days of taking the animal. The easiest way to report is via DEC's HuntFishNY mobile app. Through this mobile app, hunters, anglers, and trappers can access an electronic version of their licenses and privileges, and quickly report the harvest of deer, bear, and turkey immediately while afield on their mobile device. Hunters may still use the phone report system, but the online and mobile systems are faster, more convenient, and easier for hunters to accurately enter information.

Venison Donation Program

Big game hunters are reminded that they can help feed the hungry by making a monetary contribution to the Venison Donation Program at any license-issuing outlet. License buyers should inform the sales agent if they are interested in donating $1 or more to support the program.

For more information about DEC's big game hunting seasons, new regulations, and hunter safety information including new requirements to wear hunter orange or pink, go to DEC's website.

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