DEC: New changes for hunting season

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It’s back to the ground blinds and tree stands for many of New York’s hunters. There are some big changes this year.

A new law allows 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow, with the supervision of an experienced and licensed adult hunter. Other precautions are also in place.

"Twelve and 13-year-olds must pass the hunter safety course before they can go out to the field," said Jeremy Hurst, a wildlife biologist for the state Department of Conservation. "They are required by law to wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing, both them and the mentor, while they are hunting. They’ve shown not just in New York, but nationally that young hunters are the safest hunters around."

While some consider the law controversial, counties in the Capital Region have opted in, and DEC says it’s a positive thing.

"It gives kids the opportunity, young hunters to go afield, learn the traditions and practices of safe hunting under the experience of an adult," he explained.

Another change this year, people hunting for deer can now hunt longer, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

As hunters gear up, DEC says it is keeping a close eye on something.

"This year, we are also dealing with a disease, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, which is new for us, relatively new. It does kill deer, pretty intensively in some spots," he explained. What we’ve seen is an outbreak of this E.H.D in the central Hudson Valley. Fortunately, deer populations are robust and able to rebound quickly in those areas, so we anticipate this as a short-lived event."

Extra deer management permits in some locations will become available on Nov. 1, but DEC says it won’t be making extra tags available in counties that are heavily impacted by the disease.