BY STEVE GEORGE
For The Leader-Herald
With autumn fast approaching, many are getting ready to head into the woods for hunting season. I am seeing posts on social media outlets about hunters getting tree stands set up and putting trail cameras out, all in anticipation of getting a shot at a deer or bear.
This summer, I prepped a few food plots and set a few cameras up in the woods I hunt. I set out three of the cellular cameras that forward photos to your phone, rather than having to retrieve the memory card from the camera to view photos. So far, I’m impressed with the technology. I have photos of me walking by the camera, small game, and a few deer. Getting the alert on the phone of what is out there at that moment is pretty cool — except, when it’s at 3 a.m. and it’s a raccoon.
There are a few new regulations that the DEC has implemented for this season that include what to wear in the woods to be legal. The DEC announced the changes after adopting the NYS Deer Management Plan. The changes are as follows:
1) The hunting hours for big game are now 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunrise. This change makes New York more consistent with other states throughout the country.
2) Those hunting big game with a firearm, or accompanying someone hunting big game with a firearm, must wear a solid or patterned florescent orange or pink hat, vest, or jacket. This is in response to allowing hunting in the low-light periods of the morning and evening. In my opinion, it’s a good thing as it will reduce the number of “mistaken targets” in the field in low light. As a Master Hunter Education Instructor for 27 years, I agree with this one 100%.
3) It establishes a nine-day season for antlerless deer from Sept. 11-19 for firearms in Wildlife Management Units (WMU’s) 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F. Bowhunting can be used in WMU’s 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C. Refer to the online mapping for the location of these WMUs. Hunters can only use their Deer Management Permits and Deer Management Assistance Permit tags during this early season.
4) The regs bring back the ability to harvest antlerless deer in the early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone WMU’s of 6A, 6F, and 6J.
5) The regs simplify the bear hunting season in the Adirondacks by extending the regular season to cover the entire hunting period.
6) They remove outdated language related to deer tag usage in the September early season for archery.
7) They allow 12- and 13-year-old hunters to hunt deer with a firearm and crossbow in counties that passed the local law to participate. Fulton County passed that law earlier this year. Refer to the Big Junior Big Game page of the DEC’s website for all of the counties that elected to participate in the program and the specific requirements if you plan on doing this.
8) There is a “Holiday Deer Hunt”, which is an extension of the late bow hunting and muzzleloader season, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 in the Southern Zone.
One can read in full detail all about the new regulations on the DEC’s website. It’s always a good idea to look over the regulations prior to going in the field to avoid “conflicts and discussions” with an Environmental Conservation officer while in the field, anyway.
In preparation of hunting season, here are few tips: make sure your firearms and bows are sighted in, you have the proper back tag ready (not last year’s still in the holder), your licenses are in your possession while in the field, you’ve sprayed your cloth with tick repellent, you’ve solidified access to your favorite hunting spot with the landowner, your tree stands are safe and strapped on the tree with a new strap or chain, your safety harness is ready for climbing into the tree stand, your radios and GPS’s have new batteries in them, you have a compass and map, and someone knows where you will be in case of an emergency. And, most of all, remember to have fun and enjoy the time with friends and family.