After much opposition from archery-oriented hunters and a bill from Long Island Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) to cancel a youth hunt, the Department of Environmental Conservation this past week finally announced details for conducting a Columbus Day Weekend Youth Deer Hunt.
Junior hunters (ages 14 and 15) who have completed a hunter certification course can hunt Oct. 6 to 8 with a licensed, experienced adult hunter. These young hunters can take one deer of either sex during this youth hunt. They can use a Deer Management Permit valid for the area hunted; they can also use a Deer Management Assistance Program tag for taking one antlerless deer.
Along with all the regular and antlerless tags hunters can legally use throughout the regular season, youths during this pre-season hunt will be able to use their regular season buck tag to take a deer of either sex.
There is a change in the archery season opening this year.
Bow hunters will be afield on Oct. 1, instead of the first Saturday after Columbus Day weekend, which had been the archery opener.
Now, bow hunters will be afield with youths who will be able to hunt with a shotgun or rifle, depending on regulations set in each county.
Adult hunters are encouraged to put down the bow when possible and take a young hunter to a site where he or she can harvest what could be a first-hunt kill; successes count.
Even without a tagged deer at the end of a day or during the entire weekend, this hunt can provide young hunters with a greater understanding of the positive things about safety and effectively enjoying the hunting pursuit.
The status of future youth deer hunts depends on pending state legislation.
Archery hunters have enlisted the aid of Assemblyman Sweeney to enact legislation favoring bow hunters' concerns, regardless of the needs and wishes of other hunters and their hunts.
Fortunately, pre-season youth hunts have been established and are an annual event for junior hunters before waterfowl, wild turkey and pheasant season openers.
For details on information on youth hunts, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/52495. For further information about the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt rules and procedures, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.