March 28, 2022

Department Issues Favorable Recommendations on CSF-Led Youth Hunting Initiative

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

Why it Matters: Dedicated efforts spearheaded by CSF, the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation led to the implementation of a pilot program that allowed eligible counties to opt-in for junior hunting. The overwhelming acceptance of this program brings New York’s hunting age in line with most other states in the country. This pilot program allowed local counties to pass a law to opt-in to the lowered hunting age, of which 52 of the 54 eligible counties participated. As a result of the resounding buy-in across the state, New York’s hunting community was able to take 9,859 12 and 13-year-old hunters afield to participate in our nation’s time-honored traditions. 

In a report prepared by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and submitted to the New York State Senate and Assembly, the DEC remarked upon the resounding participation and support of a pilot program that authorized license holders aged 12 and 13 years old to pursue deer with crossbows, rifles, shotguns, or muzzleloaders under the supervision of an experienced adult. The program was implemented in 96% of the eligible counties, meaning over 9,800 12 and 13-year-old hunters were able to utilize a crossbow or firearm during the 2021 deer season. Additionally, the program saw no incidents in the categories of “hunting related shooting,” “hunting violations,” or “hunting license revocations,” providing further credence to the effectiveness of a responsible initiative such as this.

The DEC’s report provided three recommendations to the State Senate and Assembly in order to expand youth hunting opportunities. These suggestions were:

Permanently authorize 12 and 13-year-old hunters to hunt deer with a firearm and crossbow;
Allow 12 and 13-year-old hunters to also hunt black bear with a firearm and crossbow; and,
Extend the authorization for 12 and 13-year-old hunters to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow to all of New York State (subject to other provisions of ECL) and remove the requirement for counties to pass a local law opting-in.

As was previously reported, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has worked tirelessly alongside the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council (NYSAC) for roughly a decade, seeking to expand junior hunting by lowering the hunting age for pursuing deer. The overwhelming acceptance of this program speaks volumes as to what’s possible in the Empire State, and CSF looks forward to working alongside the Caucus and NYSAC towards the implementation of the DEC’s recommendations..

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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