The State Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo includes legislation that now allows youth ages 12 and 13 to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter in upstate counties that opt-in to participate.
Youth ages 12 and 13 in New York have been safely hunting small game with firearms since the early 90s and hunting deer and bear with archery equipment since 2011. Until now, though, New York was the only state that didn’t allow 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm. This new legislation (ECL 11-0935) is a temporary measure through 2023 and includes the following provisions:
- Allows 12 and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm in areas such firearms may be used during hunting season
- Allows 12 and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a crossbow during the times when other hunters may use crossbows
- Requires supervision of a licensed adult hunter (21 years or older) with three years of deer hunting experience who maintains physical control over the youth hunter at all times
- Requires the youth hunter and adult mentor to wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing and to remain at ground level while hunting deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader
The legislation requires each county to opt-in to the program by adopting a local law allowing for 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt deer in accordance with ECL 11-0935. The legislation specifically excludes Westchester and Suffolk counties from participation and does not authorize youth to hunt black bears with a firearm or crossbow.
DEC will maintain a list of counties that choose to participate on their website for Junior Big Game Hunting.
Photo of youth hunter with whitetail deer courtesy DEC.