The plan quotes some startling statistics about dwindling hunter numbers, so in response, the DEC seems focused on getting more kids afield, and has proposed a special three-day firearms season Columbus Day weekend. The DEC is also advocating to lower the legal age to hunt big game to 12, something 46 other states have already done.
Hurst said officials contemplated allowing youth out in late September, prior to bow season, but that plan didn’t coincide with the license year, which renews Oct. 1.
To appease bowhunters who will have to share the forest with youth gun hunters for three days, the DEC is proposing lengthening the bow season to the north and south. Under the plan, bow would open Sept. 27 to the north and Oct. 1 to the south. The northern season would run through muzzleloader, which would open a week later on Oct. 20. Regular season to the north would then start Oct. 27 and run through Dec. 9, and a week of late muzzleloader after that.
The southern bow season would run Oct. 1-Nov. 16 when regular season would kick in, which would wrap up Dec. 9 and muzzleloader would follow Dec. 10-18.
A proposal to mix in a four-day early muzzleloader season from Oct. 9-12 in the southern zone has stirred much controversy, as rumors have circulated that it is in the works for most or all of the southern zone. But Hurst said that’s not the case. Instead, the concept is to leave the option open for a muzzleloader season in areas with very high deer populations.
Only then would a WMU be open to the early muzzleloader hunt, he said.
DEC has taken more than 2,000 comments dating back to 2009 on this plan, and a majority of New Yorkers support the use of crossbows for all seasons, especially for those with physical disabilities, so DEC officials are endorsing them for use in the plan.