A stock photo of Steve George with a nice sum taken as part of the deer management program in 2018 (Photo courtesy of Steve George)


For the Leader-Herald

As fall approaches, many are preparing to head to the woods for the hunting season. I see posts on social media about hunters setting up tree stands and setting up surveillance cameras, all in anticipation of shooting a deer or bear.

This summer, I prepared a few plots of food and set up a few cameras in the woods that I hunt. I have defined three of the cellular cameras that transmit the photos to your phone, rather than having to grab the memory card from the camera to view the photos. So far I am impressed with the technology. I have pictures of myself walking near the camera, small game, and some deer. Getting the alert over the phone of what’s going on right now is pretty cool, except when it’s 3 a.m. and he’s a raccoon.

There are a few new rules that the DEC has put in place 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) Big game hunting times are now 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunrise. This change makes New York more consistent with other states in the country.

2) Those who hunt big game with a firearm, or who accompany someone who hunts big game with a firearm, must wear a solid or patterned orange or neon pink hat, vest or jacket. This is in response to permission to hunt during periods of low light in the morning and evening. In my opinion, this is a good thing because it will reduce the number of “Wrong targets” on the ground 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 September 11-19 for firearms in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A and 9F. Bow hunting can be used in the WMU 1C, 3S, 4J and 8C. Refer to the online mapping for the location of these WMUs. Hunters can only use their deer management license and deer management assistance license tags at the start of the season.

4) The regulations restore the ability to harvest antlerless deer at the start of the muzzleloading season in the northern zone WMUs of 6A, 6F and 6J.

5) The regulation simplifies the bear hunting season in the Adirondacks by extending the regular season to cover the entire hunting season.

6) They’re removing outdated language related to using deer tags at the start of the September archery season.

7) They allow 12 and 13 year old hunters to hunt deer with a gun and crossbow in counties that have passed local law to participate. Fulton County passed the law earlier this year. Refer to the Big Junior Big Game page of the DEC website for all counties that have chosen to participate in the program and specific requirements if you plan to do so.

8) There is a “Holiday deer hunting”, which extends the late archery and muzzleloading season from December 26 to January 1 in the southern zone.

You can read everything about the new regulations in detail on the DEC website. It is always a good idea to consult the regulations before going to the field to avoid “conflicts and discussions” with an environmental conservation officer in the field, anyway.

In preparation for the hunting season, here are some tips: make sure your firearms and bows are in sight, that you have the correct rear tag ready (not last year’s one in the holder), your permits are in your possession while you are in the field, you have sprayed your rag with tick repellant, you have solidified access to your favorite hunting spot with the landowner, your tree supports are safe and attached to the tree with a new strap or chain, your safety harness is ready to climb the upright tree, your radios and GPS have new batteries, you have a compass and a map, and someone knows where you will be in an emergency. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and spend time with your friends and family.