Monday, April 11, 2016

Move Underway To Lower NYS Hunting Age To 12

deer hunted with an air rifle in 2008Legislation is now pending in the New York State Legislature to lower the minimum age for big game hunting to 12. Assembly bill A8358 sponsored by Aileen Gunther (D,I,WF-Forestburgh) and companion Senate bill S5434 sponsored by Joseph Griffo (R-Rome) are currently pending in their respective houses’ Environmental Conservation Committees.

The New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC), a sportmans and gun rights advocacy group, has been advocating for the change. Currently, the “junior hunter mentoring program” allows youths ages 14 and 15 to hunt big game with a firearm while accompanied and supervised by an adult.

“The NYSCC strongly supports this change,” a press release issued by the NYSCC last week stated. “Increasing the opportunities for young people to participate in one of the state’s premier outdoor activities will help our youth develop new skills and cultivate lifelong participation in outdoor sports.”

The DEC’s current five-year deer management plan recommends that the minimum age for big game hunting with a firearm be lowered to twelve.

Photo: A 14-year-old hunter with the first deer believed to have been taken with an air rifle in the United States in 2008.


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28 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Hmmm…. I grew up in PA where I could hunt big game with my parent at age 12. I had accompanied my father without a weapon for several years before that. My first deer season, I shot a buck within 2 hours of entering the woods, and my dad shot another about an hour later. I was taught proper hunting ethic and safety. No safety classes were required or even available back then.

    Looking back on it now, despite the best teaching of my father, I don’t think I should have had a high-power rifle in my hands at that age. I was taught well, but I don’t believe I was mature enough for that kind of firepower.

    I feel hunting is OK at that age after a hunter safety course, but it should be limited to small game with either a .22 rimfire or .410 shotgun until age 14 with an adult. Once responsibility and safety has been demonstrated and documented by an adult for at least 25 hours in the field, then he/she would be eligible for a high-power/big game course or test that would demonstrate proper safety and handling of these weapons and a proper big game hunting ethic.

    After entering college and taking numerous zoology/mammology/ornithology courses, I gave up hunting – losing any enjoyment after I had killed something. I still enjoy shooting, but have chosen not to take the lives of other animals. Just a personal choice – I have no animosity toward hunting or hunters. I still accompanied my Dad until I moved to NYS, but never took a shot.

    Just my $0.02.

  2. Lynne Berry says:

    I don’t kmow a 12 year old that I would trust with high powered rifle. Hunting can involve split second decisions as to whether a shot is safe to take or not. you have to be able to prdict the trajectory of your shot overtime and the position of your hunting companions.A child’s mind not as likely to exercise good judgment in these circumstances as an adults, although I grant you, neither are some adults! We don’t think 12 year olds are likley to operate a motor vehicle responsibly, so we don’t let them drive. Ask yourself, if don’t let 12 year olds drive cars, for pete’s sake, why would we let them hunt?

    • Jim Miller says:

      I personally know lots of 12 yr olds that are more than responsible to hunt including my son! Every other state in America has allowed kids younger than 12 to hunt without any problems! We expect so much out of our youth today! I think it should be a choice for the parent or guardian to make. They ultamatly will be the ones responsible for them anyway! Some kids ride four wheelers and dirtbikes that go faster than your car! And handle them just fine..

  3. Lynne Berry says:

    I don’t kmow a 12 year old that I would trust with high powered rifle. Hunting can involve split second decisions as to whether a shot is safe to take or not. you have to be able to prdict the trajectory of your shot overtime and the position of your hunting companions.A child’s mind not as likely to exercise good judgment in these circumstances as an adults, although I grant you, neither are some adults! We don’t think 12 year olds are likley to operate a motor vehicle responsibly, so we don’t let them drive. Ask yourself, if don’t let 12 year olds drive cars, for pete’s sake, why would we let
    them hunt?

  4. Dan'L says:

    Hunting is a very safe activity thanks to strict adherence to safety matters and respect for firearms. New hunters, especially younger hunters fresh out of Hunter Ed are some our safest. A recent post on this web site is worth reading: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/04/dec-announces-zero-hunting-fatalities-2015-season.html

    Hunter recruitment is important in the hunting community and getting kids involved early on is paramount. Age 16 is way too late. I have not read this legislation but I’m sure it comes with a supervision requirement by an experienced adult hunter, as it should.

    New York has some fantastic youth hunting programs (youth turkey season is April 23-24) and if passed, this would enhance them.

  5. RC says:

    Leave it as is.
    I feel that the only reason the DEC wants to lower big game hunting to 12 years old is to increase their license income.
    Or did they give an unreported reason?

  6. Charlie S says:

    RC says; “I feel that the only reason the DEC wants to lower big game hunting to 12 years old is to increase their license income. ”

    First thing that came to my mind!

    • Dan'L says:

      To my knowledge this originated with the NYS Conservation Council and the hierarchy of sportsmen’s clubs across the state at the county and local level, not the DEC.

  7. Justin Farrell says:

    I’m not a big hame hunter, but I’m all for teaching children responsible fun outdoor activities at an early age.

    • Ethan says:

      So the “fun” has to be killing animals?
      12 yrs old is far too young. Let them accompany their elders, just not pull a trigger.

  8. Joe Smith says:

    A high powered rifle in the hands of a 12 yr old child… No. That’s just plain stupid. It has to be about the money.

  9. Edward Griesemer says:

    Why stop by allowing twelve year old children to hunt with high powered rifles? Perhaps we should also allow them to drive motorized vehicles on public roads as well. Of course it would have to be under the supervision of an adult. Any legislator, regardless party affiliation who votes for the passage of these bills, should be sent a message. They will be voted out of office in the next election!

  10. Dan'L says:

    Many states, including neighboring Vermont, allow 12-year-olds (or even younger kids) to hunt big game under adult supervision after passing a hunter-ed course. Why not New York, especially in rural areas like the Adirondacks and the vast farm country across the state where hunting remains a big part of the family heritage and culture.

  11. Ed Burke says:

    Perhaps the commercial interests of hunting/fishing superstores in NYS has influenced the introduction of the proposed legislation. Doubt if many game officials and law enforcement would be in favor of this.

    • Dan'L says:

      I attended a meeting of the Warren County Conservation Council last week (April 6) where a Region 5 Lieutenant was in attendance. He was highly in favor of it.

  12. Paul says:

    Seems a little young to me. I say make it 14. That way almost all kids would be physically big enough to handle any rifle. Keep those kids with a supervising adult hunter till they are 16.

  13. Charlie S says:

    “A high powered rifle in the hands of a 12 yr old child… ”

    A 12 yr old is not yet fully mature. If this is allowed then maybe we should make sure there are stipulations…such as he or she must not be under the influence of pharmaceuticals (meds) which many children are.There should be assurances that his or her family is not dysfunctional and that there are no signs of abuse. A 12 yr old who is allowed to hunt with a rifle should be taught that the violence on television that he or she grew up with is not an okay to kill for the sake of entertainment as our Hollywood culture teaches us. The iq level of children who are taught to kill wild animals at a young age ought to be set at a reasonably high number. There ought to be assurances that the child knows there’s more to life than american idols and millionaire actors or actresses.

    We must keep in mind that the Newtown shooter who shot and killed all of those beautiful little boys and girls was taught that it was okay to have guns and to kill animals at will. He was on meds too. If children are ok’ed to hunt at young ages they should first be taught why it is important to respect all living things and why it is okay to hunt to kill other than just for the sake of the sport.

    • Ethan says:

      There has been a paradigm shift in modern hunter ethics. No longer does it suffice to hunt for what they eat. They want longer hunting seasons; spring bear hunts (so there are more orphaned cubs?); wildlife killing contests. Kill all the coyotes “to help the farmers”. The list goes on. Current seasons are just not enough for them. All they really want are perpetual living targets. It’s a disgrace.

  14. Brian MOFYC says:

    I think Dick Cheney shows that it’s more about carefulness than age. And I agree that removing the forbidden fruit syndrome probably aids in safety.

    But I guess I just wonder about the logic that dictates we don’t trust a kid behind the wheel of a car until 16, but we trust him with a rifle at 12. It’s not one or the other, but the congruence of the two.

  15. Bruce says:

    Folks today would be appalled at what I was trusted with as a 12 year old. It’s all about the kid’s level of responsibility and training, and it’s the individual parent who knows better than anyone how responsible their kid is. And when the kid has the gun in his hands, the smart parent will have complete control up until the moment the trigger is pulled.

    As for the so-called “more money for the state conspiracy theory,” I don’t see this as any big money maker.

  16. Boreas says:

    Frankly, I would like to see some independent research into the psychological pros and cons of initiating big game hunting at various ages. It is fairly well established that a child’s brain and mental processes aren’t really fully developed until their early 20s. They can be trained, coached, mentored, and tested and may appear to be functioning like a rational adult. But their impulse control and ability to resist peer pressure are some of the last brain functions to mature, and can complicate rational thought.

    The point I am trying to make isn’t whether young hunters can be trained to hunt safely – most can – but rather what effect does the taking of life at an early age have on the developing mind? For me, it was somewhat traumatic at first, particularly field-dressing animals, but with repetition, it became just another part of the process. But my question is, is that an emotionally healthy process, or could it create emotional problems down the road. Should it be delayed for a few more years? I honestly don’t know.

    Hitchhiking on that thought, the same questions arise for Armed Service inductions at age 18. Young adults are inducted before their rational minds have fully developed. Many are trained well to kill in combat, then many have trouble adapting to non-combat life when finally out of harm’s way. Can all this be simply be blamed on combat experience, or is training to take a human life without emotion at age 18 the problem? More food for thought…

    • Bruce says:

      Boreas,

      This is the impression I got working for over 20 years at a VA Medical Center before retiring.

      It is my belief that in the case of young people being trained for combat, many of the issues arise after they have actually been in combat and witnessed up close or took part in the horrors of war.

      Take guys of my generation…those that saw combat in Vietnam have a higher incidence of PTSD, drug use and alcoholism, while those of us who served but were in quieter parts of the world, largely acclimated to civilian life just fine. Of course, there was crossover with some combat veterans doing well and non-combat veterans having issues.

      My dad was an infantry soldier on the front lines in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. I guess you could say he came out pretty normal except for alcoholism. My son in-law was in Kuwait in the 1st Infantry and Iraq in the 4th Infantry divisions, but as a Chaplain wasn’t too near the front. He’s still in and seems pretty normal.

      I knew many who had been in ground combat, and many who hadn’t been.

  17. Dan'L says:

    To Boreas; Interesting thoughts, for sure. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) may have some stats on that. As for taking life, many who live in rural environments witness or experience this long before the age of 12.

    Still, the emphasis remains on hunter recruitment and retention at an early age. Many non-hunters, especially those vehemently apposed, see only the killing aspect of hunting, but it goes beyond that. I’m the youngest of five and my relationship with my father was never fully realized until I was about 13 and began accompanying him to an ADK hunting camp he took care of. It was something that interested us both. We went up on weekends and nights after work/school, fished, shot firearms, worked on the camp, watched wildlife, etc…. It was a wonderful experience that reached a climax when I got my first deer at 18. I was lucky for all of it and today wish only for other young aspiring hunters to have at least some opportunity to discover if they want to be a hunter or not. To do so, they have to be involved at a young age; today more so than ever.

    To all who served our country: THANK YOU!!!

    • Bruce says:

      Dan L,

      Thank you! You had a wonderful experience that I could only dream about. Except for a little local groundhog hunting beginning at age 15 when I got my first real gun (a .22 rimfire of course) I never really hunted until I became an adult and got out of the service, although I had taken a New York hunter safety course while in high school and had a hunting license.

      What was interesting, was that although I lived part time on the South side of Syracuse, there was an abandoned quarry near Syracuse University where I could take my .22 and shoot. I carried that rifle slung over my shoulder through city streets to the quarry and no one paid any attention to it. That was in the early 60’s. Times have certainly changed.

      • Boreas says:

        Bruce,

        Split Rock? Quite the interesting history of that area.

        • Bruce says:

          Boreas,

          I think you’re on the wrong page. I deleted the page about the limestone caves, so I don’t remember what all I wrote, although I remember camping and exploring the caves at Split Rock. It was actually during the same period I mentioned above, when I was able to carry my .22 rifle on the streets of Syracuse to go shooting, without anyone paying attention.

          Strange, but I didn’t really get interested in the history of upstate NY until after I moved away in 74.

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