Warming Up: Hello turkey hunters. Yes, it’s been a few weeks. Given that it’s turkey season and NY Outdoor News is hopping, it’s been a busy month. It’s also been an interesting turkey season. For this hunter, it got off to a good start with a big Adirondack tom for my mentee, Joey, and a good one for myself on May 2. Since then, it’s been hens, jakes, henned-up toms and toms that like to play hide-and-seek. Such is turkey season. Many hunters out there are still reporting that gobblers are occupied with hens, which seems a bit late. Perhaps the rainy weather we had earlier this spring has resulted in some late breeding? If you know where there’s a bird to hunt, keep hunting him. The odds should turn in your favor. Unfortunately, this warm weather is favoring the mosquitos and black flies, which seem to have gotten pretty friendly in the turkey woods and on the brook trout waters lately.
Hey, Junior Hunters:
Good luck to all of our young hunters and mentors out there and be sure to send us a photo! And, if you’d like to send a photo to NY
Outdoor News for our Readershots, you can do so here.While you’re at it, you young hunters and anglers should consider joining the Outdoor News Junior Pro Team. It’s a great program just for you! Click here to learn more.
Meanwhile, trout season is here and stream anglers (not pond fishermen) need to know that DEC has a new trout stream plan that begins this season. Check it out here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/111015.html. Also, the new regulations guide is only available online at this time but printed copies should be out soon.
Like Podcasts? If so, check these recent shows out that feature Adirondack hunters.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that spring turkey season opens May 1, in all parts of Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. In addition, DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend will take place April 24 to 25. The youth turkey hunt for junior hunters aged 12 to 15 is open in all parts of Upstate New York and Suffolk County.
Last year, turkey hunters took approximately 21,500 birds in New York during the spring season, an increase of about 25 percent from 2019. Much of the increase was likely due to a rise in hunter participation as more people looked for outdoor activities close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, hunters can expect good numbers of jakes based on average-to-good productivity in 2020 and a mild winter. However, two-year-old birds may be more difficult to find. During 2019, turkeys in New York experienced one of the worst breeding seasons in the 25 years DEC has been monitoring productivity, and the effects of this poor productivity will be experienced most heavily for hunters targeting adult birds this year.
About the Spring Youth Hunt, April 24-25:
Hunters 12 to 15 years of age are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit;
Youth 12 to 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14 to 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian;
Accompanying adults must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt;
Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
The youth turkey hunt is open in all parts of Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, and in Suffolk County;
The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken only in Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1;
Crossbows may only be used by hunters 14 or older. In Suffolk and Westchester counties it is illegal to use a crossbow to hunt wild turkeys; and
All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today released the hunting-related shooting incident (HRSI) and tree stand or other elevated incident reports for New York’s 2020 hunting seasons. The reports are consistent with the low incident rates observed in the state over the past two decades.More information, including the 2020 Hunting Safety Statistics and 2020 Tree Stand Safety Statistics, is available on DEC’s website.
DEC documented 22 hunting-related incidents in 2020, including three fatalities. While up slightly from the record-low 12 incidents documented in 2019, the number of incidents in the 2020 season continues the downward trend in HRSIs observed over the past 20 years. Nine of the 22 HRSIs that occurred last year were two-party firearm incidents, and 13 were self-inflicted. The three fatalities recorded in 2020 were self-inflicted and involved experienced hunters. All of these incidents could have been prevented if hunting safety rules had been followed.
Further examination of the nine, two-party firearm incidents in 2020 reveal that seven victims involved were not wearing hunter orange or pink when afield, which along with identifying the target and beyond, are two major principles of DEC’s hunter safety courses. For more information on hunter safety basics, visit DEC’s website.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a new opportunity for young hunters. The State Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo includes legislation that now allows youths 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.
“Deer hunting is a valued tradition for many families that provides millions of pounds of quality food to New Yorkers while reducing the negative impacts of abundant deer populations on agriculture, forests, and communities,” Commissioner Seggos said. “This new opportunity allows experienced, adult hunters to introduce the value of hunting to the next generation. Teaching these young people safe, responsible, and ethical hunting practices will ensure a rewarding experience every time they are afield. I encourage all upstate counties to consider ‘opting-in’ to support New York’s young hunters and their potential contributions to deer management.”
For nearly two decades, youth aged 12 and 13 in New York have been safely hunting deer and bear with archery equipment and small game with firearms. Until now, New York was the only state that didn’t allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm. Environmental Conservation Law 11-0935 is a temporary measure that will pilot lowering the age through 2023, including the following provisions:
Allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm in areas these 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 that these youth hunters be supervised by experienced and licensed adult hunters at all times; and
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 Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester counties from participation in the new program.
Jim Massett is surely one of the best deer hunters the Adirondacks has ever known, if not the entire Northeast and beyond. Many of us have met him at sports shows and attended his seminars and find that he immediately treats us as if he’s know you for years.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) announced the launch of a pilot reservation system that was developed in partnership to provide reliable access and address public safety at a particularly crowded corner on Route 73 in the town of Keene in the Adirondack High Peaks region. The reservation system, operated by AMR, will facilitate safer public access to trailheads through the AMR gate and for Noonmark and Round mountains and improve visitors’ trip planning and preparation by ensuring they have guaranteed parking upon arrival.
The pilot reservation system complements state and local efforts already underway to reduce dangerous and illegal parking in the vicinity of the AMR property, including variable electronic message boards and additional signage, bolstered social media outreach and education, and increased law enforcement presence and parking enforcement. In recent years pedestrian traffic, illegal parking, and roadside stopping along Route 73 have created a dangerous environment for hikers and motorists alike.
Beginning May 1, and through Oct. 31, 2021, DEC and AMR will require reservations for the 70 available parking spots at the AMR parking lot for daily access to trails on AMR property, as well as the Round Mountain and Noonmark Mountain trailheads accessed through AMR lands. Walk-in users without a reservation will not be permitted. Those arriving to Keene Valley via Greyhound or Trailways bus lines may access with a valid bus ticket from within 24 hours of arrival. Those arriving by bus must check in at the AMR hiker parking lot. The AMR parking lot is only accessible between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, with the exception of overnight parking. Continue reading →
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the release of a draft Deer Management Plan for New York State for public review and comment. The plan builds upon the progress made by DEC’s first deer management plan, released in 2011, and will guide DEC’s deer management actions to balance natural resource protection, public safety, and recreational and economic interests for the next 10 years. The draft plan is available on DEC’s website and public comments will be accepted through Dec. 28, 2020.
The plan includes proposals for extending legal hunting hours to be from one half our before sunrise until one half hour after sunset. It also contains a proposed regulation change to extend the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone to include the period from December 26 to January 1. DEC received several thousand comments through Nov. 8, 2020 on this proposed regulation, and those comments are presently under review as part of that public regulatory process.
The draft plan details a new method for setting deer population objectives that integrates an assessment of deer impacts on forests with public preferences for deer population changes. It emphasizes new and adaptive approaches for harvesting antlerless deer by recommending strategic hunting season and tag changes in rural landscapes where additional harvest is needed and developing new opportunities for community-based deer management in suburban and urban landscapes.
A summary of the accomplishments from the first plan, many of which have become integrated into DEC’s deer management program, is also included. In addition, the plan provides greater transparency into the processes behind deer management including the methodology for setting Deer Management Permit (DMP, antlerless tag) quotas and the calculations for estimating annual deer harvest totals. Finally, this plan identifies a series of statutory recommendations that would improve deer management capacity throughout New York.
Significant elements of the Draft Plan include:
Establishing desired deer population trajectories (more deer, fewer deer, stay the same) for 23 regions of the state by aggregating existing deer management units, including deer impacts on forest regeneration with new tools like AVID (see below), and considering public preferences for deer population change;
Monitoring deer populations for diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease and taking steps to reduce disease risk;
Recommending several hunting-related changes to provide additional hunter opportunity such as a Southern Zone holiday hunt, special seasons to meet local objectives, and increasing antlerless harvest where deer population reduction is warranted;
Maintaining a voluntary approach for letting young bucks go and re-evaluating the existing mandatory antler restriction program for consistency with hunter values and management objectives;
Encouraging voluntary use of non-lead ammunition (such as copper) by deer hunters to reduce human and wildlife exposure to lead by ingestion;
Pursuing regulatory mechanisms to improve the Deer Management Assistance Program and Deer Damage Permit program so landowners and municipalities can reduce deer damage and deer-human conflicts;
Providing technical assistance for community-based deer management including local hunting programs, suburban/urban hunter-training workshops, and other management tools;
Exploring the potential for a small grants program to assist communities in developing local deer management plans and implementing actions from those plans;
Promoting the Assessing Vegetation Impacts of Deer (AVID) protocol for citizen science monitoring of deer browse impacts on forests; and
Better understanding and addressing public values and interests regarding deer populations, impacts, and deer management decisions.
Comments on the draft plan should be sent to email@example.com (using “Deer Plan” in the subject line) or by mail to: DEC Deer Management Plan, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. The public comment period closes on Dec. 28, 2020. After reviewing public comments on this draft, DEC will amend the plan before adopting and publishing a final version. Some recommendations will require new or amended state regulations and these regulatory proposals will be subject to an additional public comment period during the formal rulemaking process.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has released the State’s final Trout Stream Management Plan that will improve the management of trout streams across the state. The final plan is the product of extensive public engagement and sound science that embraces simplicity, encourages angler participation, and recognizes the value of managing trout streams for self-sustaining populations of wild trout. In addition, to support implementation of the Trout Stream Management Plan, today DEC issued proposed regulations that are available for public comment until Jan. 25, 2021.
Significant aspects of the plan are the result of more than 20 public meetings held with anglers in 2017 to identify desired outcomes for the state’s numerous and diverse trout streams. The plan covers a broad spectrum of management areas and angler interests associated with trout stream management in New York. To view the plan and the categorization of managed trout stream reaches visit DEC’s website.
The management plan draws a distinct line between stocked and wild trout management and prioritizes habitat management as the primary tool to improve and restore wild populations of trout. It also creates the foundation to learn and build upon for continuous improvement of the State’s trout stream fisheries resources, solidifying DEC’s commitment to protecting and promoting the health of wild trout fisheries.
The plan also takes into consideration the hundreds of thousands of New York anglers who enjoy the State’s ongoing stocking efforts and balances protecting natural populations while supporting a robust hatchery network and partnerships that expand recreational opportunities and meet anglers’ diverse needs. The plan extends the duration of stocking on select stream reaches, increases the size of stocked fish, and ensures that each stocking contains some fish that are 12 inches or larger. It also seeks to improve the vigor of hatchery brown trout for increased survival.
Anglers would also be provided with the ability to fish year-round through the creation of a statewide catch-and-release season. DEC has preliminarily concluded that fishing during the spawning season will not result in negative fishery impacts, and DEC will evaluate the potential impact of the catch-and-release season with a study on select streams.
DEC seeks continued angler engagement to support efforts moving forward, including developing a new angler-friendly interactive map for information on stream reach management and fishing access locations. DEC will also expand public outreach about the significance of wild trout populations and the water they inhabit.