AVON — The approach of Thanksgiving brings one of the other most-popular events in the GLOW region.
The regular firearms seasons for deer and bear will open at sunrise on Saturday. Hunters from the local area and beyond will don their gear and head out to the woods.
Some will be looking to fill their freezers. Others will simply enjoy being outdoors and the thrill of the hunt.
The regular firearms seasons will last through Dec. 13. Late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 14 to 22.
Officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation are offering updates as the big day approaches.
Some involve safety while others give practical advice.
“Regulated hunting is one of the most important conservation efforts New Yorkers engage in each year,” said Commissioner Bail Seggos of the DEC in a news release. “Hunters help balance deer and bear populations with local habitats and land uses, while enjoying cherished family traditions and harvesting more than 11 million pounds of quality, locally grown, organic meat. We want everyone to stay safe this hunting season and for hunters to remain vigilant in their efforts to prevent introducing Chronic Wasting Disease to New York.”
The DEC strongly encourages hunters to visit deer and bear check stations during opening weekend. Participation is voluntary and helps the DEC gather valuable data to assess the status of the area’s big game populations.
The closest local station is at the DEC Headquarters on 6247 Route 20 in Avon, Livingston County. It will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Hunters are encouraged to bring their deer and bears. DEC staff will determine deer ages, while collecting biological and harvest information.
Staff will also check harvested bears. They will collect biological information and pull a premolar tooth to determine the bear’s age.
New York State Department of Health guidelines will be strictly followed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Measures will include maintaining proper social distancing and wearing masks.
The state’s other check station will be located in Schuyler County.
There have been no new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in New York deer since 2005, but hunters are advised take the threat of CWD seriously.
CWD is always fatal to deer, DEC officials said. If introduced, CWD could spread rapidly and be practically impossible to eliminate once established.
The most effective disease management strategy is to prevent CWD from entering New York, the officials said. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following tips including:
n If hunting any type of deer, elk, moose, or caribou outside of New York, debone the animal before bringing it back. The DEC will confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts.
n Do not use deer urine-based lures or attractant scents.
n Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not on the landscape.
n Report deer that appear sick or act abnormally.
n Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.
Whether through organized deer hunting cooperatives, informal agreements among neighbors, or individual choice, hunters can continue to push the harvest solidly toward older bucks by letting younger bucks go for future seasons, DEC officials said.
“Hunters are proving that voluntary choice works,” said Commissioner Seggos. “By choosing to pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks, New York hunters are seeing and taking more older bucks than ever before.”
The DEC’s HuntFishNY mobile app makes reporting a deer or bear harvest easier than ever, officials said.
Hunters, anglers, and trappers can access an electronic version of their license and report the harvest of deer, bear, and turkey immediately while afield on their mobile device within seconds.
Hunters may also still use the phone report system at 1 (866) GAME-RPT or report online, but the mobile system is faster, more convenient, and easier for hunters to accurately enter information, officials said. Reporting harvest is required by law.