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DEC Announces Bowhunting Seasons for Deer and Bear

Youth Big Game Hunt Scheduled for Columbus Day Weekend

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that bowhunting seasons for deer and bear begin in the Northern Zone on Sept. 27, and in the Southern Zone on Oct. 1. Hunters are also reminded to apply for Deer Management Permits by next week’s Oct. 1, 2020, deadline.

“New York’s skilled bowhunters can find great opportunities for big game in forests and fields throughout the state,” Commissioner Seggos said. “With mild weather and longer days, the early bow season is the perfect time to be in the woods and an opportunity to introduce new hunters to deer and bear hunting. Be sure to continue following precautions to keep you and others safe when afield this hunting season.”

Deer Management Permit Application Deadline is Oct. 1

The deadline to apply for deer management permits (DMPs/antlerless tags) is fast approaching. Hunters must apply for DMPs by Oct. 1, and should know the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) they intend to hunt and review their chances of selection before applying. The application fee for DMPs is $10. The fee is waived for junior hunters and Lifetime License holders who purchased a Lifetime (Sportsman) License prior to Oct. 1, 2009. Hunters who have purchased a hunting license are eligible to apply for up to two DMPs that may be used to harvest antlerless deer from a specified WMU. Antlerless deer harvest is crucial in helping to balance the deer herd with available habitat.

Hunters who still need to purchase their license and permits for the 2020-21 seasons can do so at any one of DEC’s 1,200 license issuing outlets, by phone at 1-86-NY-DECALS (866-933-2257), or online through our DECALS website.

Youth Big Game Hunt

New York’s annual Youth Big Game Hunt is scheduled for Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10-12, 2020. During this special opportunity, licensed 14- and 15-year-olds may use a firearm to hunt big game while accompanied by an experienced, licensed adult hunter. All eligible junior hunters may take one deer (either sex) and one bear. During the youth hunt, antlerless deer taken with a firearm may be tagged with a regular season tag, DMP, or Deer Management Assistance Program tag. Antlered deer may only be tagged with the regular season tag. Though junior hunters may have multiple deer tags, they may only take one deer with a firearm during the Youth Big Game Hunt.

The Youth Big Game Hunt takes place throughout the state, except in Suffolk County and in bowhunting-only areas. Additional rules that apply to junior hunters and their adult mentors are noted on pages 36 and 37 of the Hunting & Trapping Guide or through the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program.

Take it, Tag it, Report it!

DEC reminds hunters of the importance of reporting their harvest. Harvest reporting is critical to wildlife management, and hunters are required by law to report their harvest of deer, bear, and turkey within seven days of taking the animal. You can report your harvest online through our DECALS website or by phone at 866-426-3778. You may also report via DEC’s HuntFishNY mobile app. Through this mobile app, hunters, anglers, and trappers can access an electronic version of their licenses and privileges, and report the harvest of deer, bear, and turkey immediately while afield on their mobile device. New users of the HuntFishNY App need to download the newest version and use the new login created through the new DECALS licensing system. While hunters may still use the phone report system, the online and mobile systems are faster, more convenient, and easier for hunters to accurately enter information.

Venison Donation Program

Hunters are reminded that they can help feed the hungry by making a monetary contribution to the Venison Donation Program at any license-issuing outlet. License buyers should inform the sales agent if they are interested in donating $1 or more to support the program. Since 1999, these funds have been used by the Venison Donation Coalition to process more than 6,700 tons of highly nutritious venison, the equivalent of 5.3 million meals served. Learn more about the Venison Donation Coalition program.

Stop the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is always fatal to deer. If introduced to New York, CWD could spread rapidly and is difficult to eliminate once established, threatening the future of New York’s deer population, hunting tradition, and many of the other benefits associated with deer. The most effective strategy is to prevent CWD from entering New York. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

When hunting any type of deer, elk, moose, or caribou outside of New York, debone the harvested animal before bringing it back to the state. See CWD Regulations for Hunters. DEC will confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts;
Do not use deer urine-based lures or attractant scents;
Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not on the landscape;
Report any deer that appears sick or acting abnormally; and
Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.

Hunt Safe, Hunt Smart

DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. Commissioner Seggos encourages hunters to Hunt Safe, Hunt Smart and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunter Education Course:

Point your gun in a safe direction.
Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
Be sure of your target and beyond.
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink to make themselves more visible to other hunters. Hunters who wear blaze orange are seven times less likely to be shot. When hunting in tree stands, use a full-body harness and lifeline. Most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand, so use a harness and lifeline to stay connected from the time you leave the ground to the time you get back down.

For more information about getting outdoors safely and responsibly during the State’s response to COVID-19, visit DEC’s Website.