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Nov. 18 Start of Deer and Bear Hunting in the Southern Zone

Hunters Encouraged to Pass on Shots on Young Bucks

With the start of New York’s most popular big game season slated for Saturday, Nov. 18, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging hunters to be safe, enjoy the natural beauty of the environment, and consider passing up shots on young bucks.

“New York has some of the best hunting opportunities in the nation, and our ongoing conservation efforts and hunter safety programs are providing ample opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy all New York has to offer,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Deer and bear hunting is also an important tool for New Yorkers to assist our wildlife management efforts and critical for controlling populations especially in areas and habitats where deer overabundance are causing ecological damage. The opening of the Southern Zone regular season is a cherished tradition for many families, drawing friends and relatives together for a weekend afield. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”

Deer hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks. DEC is encouraging hunters to make a difference for the future of the deer herd and increase their likelihood of seeing older, larger bucks by choosing to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow.

Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Begins Nov. 18
The 2017 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 18, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 10. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season; approximately 85 percent of New York’s 575,000 licensed hunters participate. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and between 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.

Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 19. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privilege(s).

In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 21, and will close at sunset on Dec. 3. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 4 to Dec. 10.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos is encouraging hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunters Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

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

DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.

Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
Although no new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in New York deer have been found since 2005, DEC continues to take the threat of CWD seriously. CWD is fatal to deer, and if introduced, could spread rapidly. Once established, CWD is practically impossible to eliminate from the wild deer herd. Preventing CWD from entering New York is the most effective disease-management strategy. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:

  • If hunting outside of New York, debone or quarter the deer before returning to the state, and follow the law about importing carcasses or carcass parts from outside of New York. CWD Regulations for Hunters.
  • Use only lures or attractant scents that do not contain deer-based urine.
  • Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not on the landscape.
  • Report any deer that appears sick or is acting abnormally.

Report Your Harvest – Remember: Take It – Tag It – Report It
Hunter contributions to deer and bear management don’t end when an animal is harvested. All successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. Failure to report is a violation of the Environmental Conservation Law and reduces the data DEC uses to manage deer and bear populations. Hunters may report via DEC’s online game harvest reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).

Additional Reminders for the 2017 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season
Choose non-lead ammunition for high quality meat and reduced risk of lead exposure to humans and wildlife.

Hunger Has A Cure… The Venison Donation Program is a great way to help those less fortunate while assisting with deer management in New York.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips in the guide. Hunters may also be interested in DEC’s Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 727 KB) or reviewing DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts.

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