A win on the youth hunting front

I never thought Id see the day. In a somewhat unpredicted move last week, the state Assembly approved a bill lowering the age at which youth can begin hunting big game from 16 to 14. The legislation awaits only the governors signature to become law a move that is expected to take place in the next few days. It will take effect this hunting season. Under the new legislation, known as the junior big game hunting bill, young hunters ages 14 and 15 will be allowed to hunt big game under adult supervision. Both the adult mentor and junior hunter would be required to wear blaze orange. I have long advocated for this change. Thats because New York with its six million acre Adirondack Forest Preserve and 700,000 hunters had been the only state in the country that did not allow a 14-year-old to hunt big game with a rifle. Faced with dwindling hunter numbers, DEC officials have for years said the most effective way to recruit new hunters is to reach them earlier before they have become involved with all the activities, and often negative influences that emerge in later adolescence. But legislation aimed at lowering the big game hunting age had been held up by the 65 inner-city Assembly members whose concept of a 14-year-old with a gun is a shade different than the average Adirondacker. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) co-sponsored the junior big game hunting bill and deserves much of the credit for its passage in the Assembly. Reaching the majority of the Assembly on this issue has been a struggle, Sayward told me last year. They see it like they are trying to get guns out of the hands of kids and we are trying to put them in their hands, not as the positive life experience hunting can be. On Thursday of last week, after the bill passed, Sayward said she received a text message from her 14-year-old grandson Cooper who just happens to live with my girlfriend Kathi and I in Westport. Sweet, Cooper said. Now I can hunt deer. She carried her cell phone around to show her colleagues the real world effect of their vote. It was a hard fought win, she said with a smile. No doubt chalk one up for us bumpy landers. Having watched this one from the sidelines, it is hard to question the tenacity of our upstate representatives in Albany. Good thing otherwise the wishes of sportsmen would easily be droned out by the buzz of toothy big city politico types. Ti Elks Fishing Derby The Ticonderoga Elks hosted their Catch and Release Youth Fishing Tournament June 7. The results were as follows: Age group 13-14 1st Place Jake Forand total inches caught 203 2nd Place Clifford Bell total inches caught 154 3rd Place Bernard Jordon total inches caught 93 Age 10-11-12 1st Place Barry Jordon with a catch of a 19 inch Bass 2nd Place Thomas Forand total inches caught 293 3rd Pace Kenneth Bell total inches caught 284 Age 7-9 1st Place Samantha Manley 16-inch bass 2nd Place Brendan Ten Eyck total inches caught 301 3rd Place Brian Ledger total inches caught 9 John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications, a guide and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at johng@denpubs.com.

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