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Budget Includes Legislation For Youth Hunters

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced late last week a new opportunity for young hunters.

The State Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo includes legislation that now allows youths ages 12 and 13 to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter in upstate counties that opt-in to participate.

Here in lays the magic, each county has the opportunity to join into the program or opt out of the program. It seems that this what Albany is doing lately, having individual counties make the decision based on county need and wants. I’ve been seeing a bit of this with any new law or regulation in the Empire State recently.

For nearly two decades, youth aged 12 and 13 in New York have been safely hunting deer and bear with archery equipment and small game with firearms. Until now, New York was the only state that didn’t allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm. Environmental Conservation Law 11-0935 is a temporary measure that will pilot lowering the age through 2023, including the a few guidelines.

It will allow 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm in areas these firearms may be used during hunting season. It also allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a crossbow during the times when other hunters may use crossbows. It requires that these youth hunters be supervised by experienced and licensed adult hunters at all times and 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.

The legislation requires each county to “opt-in” to the program by adopting a local law allowing for 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt deer in accordance with ECL 11-0935. The legislation specifically excludes Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk and Westchester counties from participation in the new program.

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