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Hunting Out of New York City: New Urban Hunters

by Brandon Dale

39 minutes to the whitetail woods, 46 minutes to small game opportunities and 57 minutes to numerous waterfowling marshes. Where am I? You guessed it — New York City. Most people don’t think of NYC as a hub for outdoor opportunity, and on the surface, they’d be right. However, with a closer look, one can find a robust, vibrant and diverse assortment of hunting opportunities right outside the City limits. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection offers over 1,500 acres that are publicly accessible for hunting and fishing in neighboring Westchester County alone, most of which are less than an hour drive from the City. Even more, the numerous publicly accessible DEC lands in Westchester, Putnam and Suffolk counties that also offer a variety of game opportunities, again all within a 90-minute drive of the city (traffic included!).

With so many opportunities near the City, it begs the question: why do so few New York City residents participate in hunting? With over 40% of the State’s population but only 3% of its licensed hunters, it’s clear that most of New York’s hunters don’t live and operate out of the Big Apple. But why? Lack of exposure, lack of support and most importantly, lack of access are the big culprits keeping many New Yorkers in the City. This lack of access becomes even more apparent when we think about the lack of diversity within the hunting community. Recent reports found that more than 98% of hunters are white and 89% are men. Given the diversity within the NYC population, it is apparent that these numbers don’t add up. And that’s because for people of color, women, LGBTQ+, disabled and other “non-traditional” hunters, the barriers to become a hunter are steep. Especially in NYC.

But why does this matter? First, with a booming population of 8.8 million, NYC boasts an incredible opportunity to greatly expand and enhance the broader hunting community in New York State. With this comes more funding for land protections and development of additional sporting opportunities. Most importantly, enhancing the urban-hunter population out of NYC will create a new wave of hunter-conservationist to protect, conserve and advocate for land access for future generations of hunters.

Brandon Dale is a board member for NY Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the NY ambassador for Hunters of Color. A Louisiana transplant to NYC, he is an avid deer and waterfowl hunter as well as fly-fisher.

New York Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Hunters of Color, and New York Nature Conservancy have partnered to host a variety of trainings, community building events and mentored hunts to engage and expand opportunities for hunters in the NYC area, including “Explore Hunting” and “Urban Hunters Scouting” workshops and an Archery Summer Camp. Consider volunteering as a mentor, joining BHA, or passing along the information to future hunters.

Upcoming Events:

  • Mentored Compound Bow Hunt, Long Island, NY – October 2022
  • Mentored Crossbow Hunt, Albany, NY – November 2022

Questions?

  • https://www.backcountryhunters.org/
  • https://www.huntersofcolor.org/
  • Instagram: @newyorkbha,
    @huntersofcolor, @bdale13

New York