Regular Firearms Season for Deer and Bear Hunting in the Southern Zone Begins Nov. 17
DEC Reminds Hunters to Follow Important Safety Steps and Report Harvest
Hunters Encouraged to Pass up Shots on Young Bucks
With the start of New York’s most popular big game seasons just days away, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging hunters to be safe, have fun, enjoy the environment, and consider passing-up shots on young bucks. The regular firearms seasons for deer and bear begin Nov. 17.
“New York’s deer and bear populations are great resources for the state, and I’m proud to once again kick off the Southern Zone season in New York,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “Regulated hunting of deer and bear is one of the most important conservation efforts New Yorkers engage in each year, and contributes greatly to the regional economy. The opening of the Southern Zone regular season is a cherished time for many New York families, drawing friends and relatives together for a weekend in the woods to share stories and make memories. I wish all hunters a safe and successful season.”
DEC encourages New York hunters to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks in favor of letting them grow to be older, larger bucks.
“Hunters are making a difference for the future of the deer herd, and this change in hunting habits will increase their likelihood of seeing older, larger bucks by choosing to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow,” said Commissioner Seggos.
The 2018 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York’s Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 17, and continue through Sunday, Dec. 9. The Southern Zone regular season is New York’s most popular hunting season, with an estimated 85 percent of New York’s nearly 600,000 licensed hunters participating. This season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total statewide deer harvest and 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons run from Dec. 10 through Dec. 18. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 20 and will close at sunset on Dec. 2. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9.
Already this year, hunters are reporting solid success. Hunters have reported more deer and bear taken in the Northern Zone and similar numbers of deer and bear taken in the Southern Zone compared to this time in 2017.
Help Protect New York Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
Though DEC has found no new, confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in New York deer since 2005, hunters should take the threat of CWD seriously. 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, and follow the law about importing carcass parts from outside of New York. See CWD Regulations for Hunters. DEC will confiscate and destroy illegally imported carcasses and parts.
Report Your Harvest: Take It – Tag It – Report It
Hunter contributions to deer and bear management don’t end when an animal is harvested. Successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer and bear within seven days. These reports provide essential information about when and where the animals were taken. Failure to report is a violation of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), and it reduces the data DEC uses to manage deer and bear populations. Hunters may report via DEC’s online game harvest reporting system or by calling the toll-free automated reporting system at 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).
DEC Encourages Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York State is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. Every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and DEC encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunter Education Course.
DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze 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.
The DEC would like to remind hunters that the legal hours for big game hunting across the state run from official sunrise to sunset. It is the responsibility of hunters to know when those times are in their locations. Consult the DEC hunting guide, use the DEC wildlife app or search weather data on the internet to find the official sunrise and sunset times for your area. Not only is it unsafe but it is illegal to hunt deer and bear in the dark.
Other Reminders for the 2018 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season
For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2018-2019 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website. 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 (PDF, 727 KB), or to review DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts.