ALBANY — The regular firearms hunting season for deer and bear starts Saturday.
Hunters are encouraged to review new safety regulations and changes this season to enhance their hunting experience, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said in a news release. The season will last through Dec. 12 and about 85% of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters participate.
The season accounts for nearly 60% of the total statewide deer harvest and 30 to 60% of the statewide bear harvest.
Late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 13 to 21, and Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, the latter of which is an extension from past years. Hunters taking part in those special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
New this year, 12- and 13-year-old hunters can hunt deer with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed, experienced adult in counties that ‘opted in’ to the state’s pilot program.
Established by the state Legislature through 2023, this pilot program applies only to upstate counties that choose to participate. The program does not apply to Westchester or Suffolk counties, while Erie and Rockland counties didn’t opt in.
The remaining 52 upstate counties opted in.
The DEC has likewise extended the daily hunting hours to run from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, allowing hunters to utilize the full daylight period. Hunters are advised check the sunrise and sunset times before hunting each day.
All hunters pursuing deer or bear with a firearm are now required to wear fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink clothing, either a hat, vest, or jacket visible in all directions.
Hunters are reminded to follow the basic rules of firearm safety:
n Point your gun in a safe direction.
n Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
n Be sure of your target and beyond.
n Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When hunting in tree stands, hunters are advised to 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 firearm.