Excitement Builds for Fall Hunting Season: Resounding Support for New York’s Junior Hunting Program

Contact: Nick Lewis, Mid-Atlantic States Coordinator


  • Junior hunters in New York have an additional reason to look forward to the upcoming deer hunting season, as 52 of 54 eligible counties have opted-in to New York’s junior hunting pilot program, which lowered the firearms deer hunting age from 15 years old to 12 years old.
  • This positive policy change was brought about after a decade-long effort by the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, bringing New York’s hunting age up to par with most other states across the country.

Why it Matters:  Throughout the year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) works hand-in-hand with the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus), members of the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and in-state and national partner organizations to promote and advance policies that celebrate the Empire State’s time-honored sporting traditions. With almost all eligible counties opting-in to the junior hunting pilot program, existing hunters will be able to show their favorite deer hunting spots to the new, junior hunters this fall. The overwhelming acceptance of this program exemplifies how coordinated efforts between sportsmen and women has the absolute potential to result in tangible benefits for the sporting community.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is glad to highlight the wide sweeping acceptance of roughly a decade’s worth of efforts working alongside the New York Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council to expand junior hunting by lowering the hunting age for pursuing deer with a firearm from 15 to 12 years old. 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. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that, as of August 20, 52 of 54 eligible counties have opted in.

As a result of the resounding buy-in from counties, hunters across the Empire State will be able to take new, younger hunters afield to participate in this time-honored tradition. This opportunity to bring in new hunters at an earlier age has the potential to increase state conservation funding via the “user pays – public benefits” structure known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF). Through this System, license revenue and excise taxes on sporting-related goods serve as the lifeblood of state fish and wildlife agencies, such as the DEC. Just last year, New York’s sportsmen and women contributed $69.05 million for conservation through this System.

With the 2021-2022 hunting season approaching, joint efforts by CSF, the Caucus, and Advisory Council to expand existing access and opportunities for sportsmen and women serves as a reminder of the continued commitment to promoting and advancing policies that celebrate our nation’s time-honored sporting traditions.

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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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