Niagara Gazette — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is calling the state's first youth firearms deer hunt, held last weekend, a success.
DEC Commissioner Joe Marten said reports from the field indicated that many of those in their early teens who participated learned about New York’s rich deer hunting tradition under the watchful eyes of experienced mentors, while the program itself will facilitate the next generation of hunters in a safe environment.
During the youth deer hunt, junior hunters ages 14 and 15 with a big game hunting license were eligible to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult.
“The youth deer hunt is a great opportunity for the next generation of New York hunters and is an important step in preserving our hunting heritage while maintaining our ability to manage deer through hunting in the future,” Martens said. “We received enthusiastic feedback from parents and excited young hunters who took part of the Columbus Day weekend. These experiences demonstrate the great value of providing this unique opportunity for junior hunters.”
The number of Junior Hunting license holders who were eligible to participate at least one day of the youth hunt was 12,753. To date, junior hunters have reported taking 486 deer, though hunters have seven days to report their kill. DEC anticipates the final harvest estimate for the youth deer hunt will be higher after all reports are in and the harvest is calculated. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers and wildlife staff were in the field throughout the weekend, Martens said, monitoring hunter activity and talking with bowhunters, small game and turkey hunters, and junior hunters about their experience during the youth deer hunt.
Reports from the junior hunters were overwhelmingly positive, according to Martens, and other hunters reported their hunting was not affected by the ongoing youth deer hunt. Some hunters indicated that while they did not support the youth hunt when it was first proposed, their actual observations over the weekend and seeing what a positive experience it was for so many kids, has changed their minds. Martens said the teenagers' involvement demonstrated why mentored youth have the greatest safety record of all hunters across the nation, with no accidents reported during youth deer hunt.