Snapshot of the 2021 Big Game Hunting Seasons
Junior Hunting – New legislation created a pilot program through 2023 for 12- and 13-year-old hunters to pursue deer with a firearm or crossbow in counties that passed a local law to participate; 52 of 54 eligible counties passed the required local law. The 9,859 licensed 12- and 13-year-old hunters in 2021 was about 33% more than in 2020. Approximately 87% hunted deer at some point during the season, and there were no safety incidents with this age group.
Daily Hunting Hours – To align with the national norm, DEC extended daily hunting hours for deer and bear to begin 30 minutes before sunrise and continue until 30 minutes after sunset. 2021 was the safest year on record for New York hunters, and none of the hunting-related shooting incidents occurred during the extended times.
September Antlerless Hunt – DEC established an antlerless-only deer season in mid-September using firearms, crossbows, and vertical bows in WMUs 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F, and using only vertical bows in WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C because harvest on Deer Management Permits hadn’t been adequate in these units. We anticipate an increase in participation and management impact in coming years, but even during this first year hunters took about 2,000 deer.
Holiday Deer Hunt – The new extension of the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone from December 26–January 1 provided additional opportunity for hunters, particularly younger hunters who were on break from school. The objective was to provide opportunity, not substantially increase deer harvest, and that is what occurred. With the additional 7 days of hunting, harvest during the late bow and muzzleloader season increased about 10% from 2020. Young hunters reported taking more deer during the Holiday Deer Hunt than during the traditional portion of the late bow and muzzleloader season.