As part of his executive budget proposal, Cuomo is hoping to make a few key changes to hunting in his state.
For starters, Cuomo aims to lower the minimum hunting age for big game with a firearm from 14 to 12. This would allow youngsters to begin hunting deer and bear in the state with a firearm before they reach their teens.
In addition, Cuomo hopes to expand the use of crossbows “in all big game seasons,” as well. This would include the full length of any regular bowhunting season, according to page 128 of the budget proposal.
“Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposals build upon the state’s ongoing efforts to connect more people, especially youth, to the outdoors by providing new ways for them to engage in New York’s excellent hunting, fishing, and trapping opportunities,” adds commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos of the proposals.
The question remains, however: Will these amendments come to pass?
“Many sportsmen would love to see these changes, but it’s not unusual that some of these things would be deleted during budget negotiations,” clarifies Chuck Parker. Parker is president of the New York Conservation Council, and spearheads their non-profit conservation advocacy, alongside NY’s sportsmen.
“Could this be the year? Kudos if the governor can pull it off,” he continues to NYUpstate newspaper. “If sportsmen want to see these changes go into effect, they should contact their local state lawmakers right now – and particularly, the majority and minority leaders in both the state Senate and Assembly. Just don’t sit back and let things just happen.”
How Would These Changes Affect Deer & Bear Hunting for Minors in NY?
If the changes go into effect, junior hunters of 12 to 13 years of age could begin hunting big game with a shotgun or rifle – but only when accompanied by a licensed parent, and/or direct guardian or mentor. This would be a big-game-sized change to the existing law. Under it, junior hunters may only harvest small game with a rifle or shotgun.
While this may seem an odd change to some, the move would only serve to catch New York up to nearly all other U.S. states. As of writing this article, 46 states allow deer and other big game hunting for hunters ages 12 and under with firearms & supervision.
“Expanding junior hunting will allow youth to learn the basics of being a safe hunter from a young age and will drive increased family participation in the outdoors,” Cuomo’s budget summary says.
“This bill seeks to remove unnecessary restrictions on the types of implements that those youth hunters may use… And the type of game they may pursue. Removing these restrictions will allow parents to teach their children important safety precautions,” the proposal continues.
Proposal’s Changes to NY Crossbow Laws
As for NY State’s existing crossbow laws, NYup clarifies that “Currently, crossbows can be used during the last week or two of the regular bow hunting seasons in the Northern and Southern Zones, during the regular firearms season and in the late bow/muzzleloading seasons. Allowing their use during the entire regular bow hunting season is big change… And has been debated for the past couple of years.”
“New hunters may prefer to learn to hunt with a crossbow than a firearm,” the budget summary adds. “Expanded crossbow use in all big game seasons will allow increased participation by those who do not have the physical ability to handle a conventional bow. Or don’t feel comfortable using, purchasing, or carrying a shotgun or rifle.”
In order for crossbow users to do so, each would be required to complete a bowhunting education course. In addition, they would require hunter safety training under this new legislation, as well. Currently, NY only requires those hunting deer or any game with a crossbow to read a crossbow hunting guide. Then, they must fill out a form certifying they’ve read it. The form is carried with while hunting – and that’s it.
The governor’s proposal would also drop the crossbow hunting age from 14 to 12.
New York Crossbow Coalition Supports Governor’s Proposals
Moreover, the New York Crossbow Coalition is showing support for Cuomo’s proposal.
“New York Crossbow Coalition is encouraged with the Governor including crossbow full inclusion into archery season… And eliminating arbitrary restrictions on width and draw weight in the Executive Budget proposal,” says Rick McDermott, of Pulaski. McDermott is the spokesman for the Coalition. He adds that the organization also supports “lowering the age to 12 for youth to hunt big game under adult supervision.”
“The sporting community needs to unite to make sure this remains in the final budget,” McDermott adds of the crossbow provisions.
Whether it does, however, remains to be seen.