Hunting in New York: Bear and Deer Age Reduced to 12

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently made many hunters happy with a major change to its age regulations.

The DEC has expanded bear and deer hunting in New York to hunters aged 12 and 13. Previously, all big game hunting was restricted to those 14 or older.

As of this posting, however, regulations only account for bowhunting (including the use off crossbows). Junior hunters in the 14-15 age category are able to use hunt big game with fire arms.

The NYSDEC will continue making adjustments to accommodate junior hunter throughout the year, however. In June, the younger category of hunters (ages 12-13) will also be able to hunt using fire arms (including shotguns, muzzleloaders, and crossbows). The only condition is that they will be accompanied by a licensed adult.

The state’s pilot program will continue through the end of 2023. The initiative will bring increased revenue to the state.

In addition to big game, junior hunters will also be able to target a variety of other species including coot, fowl, pheasant, turkey, ducks, and Canadian geese at various times throughout the year.

When hunting, both the junior hunter and adult mentor will need to wear specific attire. According to the NYSDEC, this includes:

  • “Both the junior hunter and the mentor must wear fluorescent hunter orange or pink visible from all directions: shirt, jacket, or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange or pink (the pattern must be at least 50% orange or pink) OR a hat with at least 50% fluorescent orange or pink.”

Full regulations, including pricing and specifics, can be found at the NYSDEC website.

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