April 12, 2012


Hunting changes proposed by DEC

Staff Reporter

Three proposed hunting rules will have a direct effect on local deer hunters.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing nine new hunting regulations to help it meet the goals laid out in the 2012-16 Deer Management Plan.
The proposed rules would allow bow hunters to begin earlier; create a youth firearm weekend during early bow season; and provide for increased hunting opportunities in parts of Tompkins County.
The most controversial rule will likely be the creation of a three-day youth firearm season for deer during Columbus Day weekend. For 2012, this would be Oct. 6-8.
Allowing youth firearm hunting, which will only be allowed in counties that already allow firearm hunting, will increase opportunities for 14 and 15-year-old hunters.
According to a department release, the state expects approximately 16,000 youth hunters to participate in the program.
In the past, bow hunters objected to the creation of this season because it will run during the early bow hunting season, potentially impacting bow hunters’ success.
The state’s release points out that small game hunters already hunt with firearms during this time and that four neighboring states have similar policies.
The second change would enable local bow hunters to get out earlier as well. The state’s proposal would move to a fixed opening date of Oct. 1 in the Southern Zone, which includes Cortland County.
This would lengthen the bow hunting season by an average of 15 days. Current regulations allow hunters to begin on the Saturday following the second Monday in October. That was Oct. 15 this year.
The third rule would create a Deer Management Focus Area in Tompkins County.
The area includes portions of the towns of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Enfield, Ithaca, Lansing, Newfield, and Ulysses.
Many of those towns struggle with high deer populations and a lack of access for hunters. The rules would allow hunters to take two antlerless deer per day and establish a special hunting season in the focus area in late January.
The state’s black bear season is being adjusted in the Northern and Southern zones to remain consistent with bow, muzzleloader and regular seasons for deer.
The public comment period for these rules is open until May 21, 2012. The full list of proposed rules is available online at
Comments can be sent to Bryan Swift, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233 or emailed to


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