DEC Announces Early Muzzleloader for Deer and Bear

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone will begin Saturday, October 15, and continue through October 21.

“Hunting is a proud tradition in New York State, and the early muzzleloader season is popular among Northern Zone deer hunters, and more deer are taken by hunters during opening weekend than any other two-day period in the Northern Zone, including opening weekend of the firearms season,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Although the 2015-16 winter was exceptionally mild and hunters should generally expect to see more deer this fall, hunters should be aware that DEC changed the rules for early muzzleloader season to reduce antlerless harvest in two wildlife management units.”

For the 2016 early muzzleloader season, hunters in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6F and 6J are prohibited from taking antlerless deer. Much like current rules for WMUs 6A and 6N, the change is intended to increase survival of adult female deer and stimulate modest population growth, particularly following such a mild winter.

To participate, hunters must purchase the muzzleloader hunting privilege in addition to their hunting license. In general, during the early muzzleloader hunters may use their bow/muzz either-sex tag, bow/muzz antlerless-only tag, Deer Management Permit in WMUs where they are available (6C, 6G, 6H, and 6K), or property-specific Deer Management Assistance Program tags. However, during the early muzzleloader season in WMUs 6A, 6F, 6J and 6N, hunters may only use their bow/muzz either-sex tag and may only take antlered deer.

See the Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons web page on DEC’s website for a map depicting Wildlife Management Units and muzzleloader hunting season dates and rules.