Big game hunting in New York’s Southern Zone, the state’s most popular big game season, begins Saturday, Nov. 16.
“The regular firearms season for deer in the Southern Zone draws hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers afield each year to hunt big game. It’s a cherished annual tradition in New York State,” Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “New York’s deer and bear populations are tremendous resources that provide more than 11 million pounds of quality, locally grown, organic meat to families across the state. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”
Regular Firearms Seasons for Deer and Bear
The 2019-20 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise Saturday, Nov.16, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 8. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season, with participation from about 85 percent of New York’s 550,000 licensed hunters. Harvest during this season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and 30-60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Monday, Dec. 9, through Tuesday, Dec. 17. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
Regulated hunting of deer and bear is one of the most important conservation efforts New Yorkers engage in each year, as the annual harvest is critical for adjusting populations to levels that are compatible with local habitats and land uses.
Let young bucks go, watch them grow
Deer hunting has been changing in New York, with more hunters opting to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks. Working together, hunters are making a difference for the future of the deer herd and increasing their likelihood of seeing older, larger bucks by choosing to let young bucks go and watch them grow.
Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
DEC has not found any new cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in New York deer since 2005. However, hunters should take the threat of CWD seriously as CWD is always fatal to deer. If introduced, CWD could spread rapidly and be practically impossible to eliminate once established, threatening the future of New York’s deer population, hunting tradition, and many of the other benefits associated with deer. The most effective disease management strategy is to prevent CWD from entering New York. Hunters can help protect New York’s deer herd from CWD by following these tips:
• If you hunt any type of deer, elk, moose, or caribou outside of New York, debone your animal before bringing it back. See CWD Regulations for Hunters. DEC may confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts;
• Do not use deer urine-based lures or attractant scents. Use synthetics instead;
• Dispose of carcass waste in a landfill, not just on the landscape;
• Report any deer that appears sick or acting abnormally; and
• Hunt only wild deer and support fair chase hunting principles.
Take It - Tag It - Report It
With DEC’s Hunt-FishNY mobile app, reporting deer or bear harvest is easier than ever. Through this mobile app, hunters, anglers, and trappers can access an electronic version of their licenses and report the harvest of deer, bear, and turkey immediately while afield on a mobile device. Hunters may still use the phone report system (1-866-GAME-RPT), but the online and mobile systems are faster, more convenient, and easier to accurately enter information. Reporting your harvest is required by law, so please remember to Take It, Tag It, Report It!
DEC Encourages Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they learned in DEC’s Hunter Education Program course.
• Point your gun in a safe direction;
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
• Be sure of your target and beyond; and
• Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or pink to make themselves more visible to other hunters. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.
When hunting in tree stands, 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.
Choose non-lead ammunition for high-quality meat and reduced risk of lead exposure to your family and wildlife.
Hunger Has A Cure The Venison Donation Program is a great way to help those less fortunate while also assisting with deer management in New York.
For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov
Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide. Hunters may also be interested to read DEC’s booklet, Hunting the Black Bear in New York, or to review DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts. DEC recently created additions to the recently launched DECinfo Locator, which makes resources and information more accessible to help hunters plan outings this fall and throughout the year. Clicking on a hunting icon brings up links to information specific to that parcel. There are also links to general hunting regulations, a hunting season map summary, and a link to help hunters report harvests.