Thursday, February 22, 2018

Another Push For Pre-Teen Big Game Hunting

Legislation to lower the minimum age of big game hunters to 12 has passed the New York State Senate and is now before the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

The conservative leaning New York State Conservation Council has been leading a push to lower the big game hunting age. The New York State Department of Conservation’s current five-year deer management plan recommends the minimum age for big game hunting with a firearm be lowered to 12. These hunters would be required to be accompanied by a parent or permitted adult.

The Senate bill (S3156) was sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo. The companion Assembly bill (A477) is sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. The measure failed last year.

According to the Conservation Council, “all states allow youth age twelve to hunt big game with a firearm and 60% have a younger minimum age.”

The legislature is currently in recess and legislators will be in their districts until the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, February 27th.

The Assembly website can help you identify your Assembly member here.

UPDATED 2/23: To include that young hunters would be required to be accompanied by a parent or permitted adult.

Photo: Young hunter with a deer killed with an air rifle in 2008 (DEC Photo).

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16 Responses

  1. geogymn says:

    Why would you allow kids to be outside in the woods? There are ticks and coyotes out there. They are much better off in front of a computer playing violent video games. They will be much safer there. The woods and fields are so passe.

  2. Harv Sibley says:


  3. Paul says:

    I would assume that the law would require the kids to be accompanied by an adult who is also a licensed hunter. This story makes it sound like 12 year old kids would be out hunting by themselves? Is that true?

    • Boreas says:

      I believe they also need the Hunter Safety course, or something of that ilk.

      I hunted at that age with my father in PA. Looking back, I feel I was too young for large game even though I took a buck. I feel small game with .22s and shotguns is probably OK at 12.

    • JohnL says:

      The article absolutely should have mentioned that the proposed hunters must be accompanied by a parent or designated adult. It isn’t a very long article and could have added that information with little trouble.
      Further, it makes me suspicious that one is trying to slant a story a certain way when one leaves out this very important piece of information.

      • John Warren says:

        No need for conspiracies. It wasn’t in the notice from the Conservation Council this was drawn from. I’ve added it.

  4. Paul says:

    Here is a bit more information:

    “would amend the state’s environmental conservation law and would require young hunters be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person 21 years of age or older designated in writing by a parent or legal guardian, who holds a valid hunting license”

  5. George says:

    All other states allow big game hunting at 12 or less. These young hunters have been proven to be safer than adults.

    • Boreas says:

      Terrain, visibility, population density, hunter density, and firearm type should all play a role in determining age limits. NYS and Utah are much different.

  6. Tony Oehler says:

    I grew in Missouri and started hunting squirrels at 11 or 12. Once I demonstrated my proficiency and that I could be safe, I was allowed to hunt by myself. Even at that young age, I appreciated the seriousness in trust my father offered me and I took the responsibility serious. Every situation and child should be handled accordingly based on the facts.

  7. Hope says:

    12 is not too young. It will teach the child how to navigate in the woods, learn basic survival skills, learn biology, anatomy, dendrology, navigation skills, patience, and the care, respect and impact of a firearm. This is real life not a video game. On top of that there is the adult/child relationship bonding opportunity that is missing in many children’s lives.
    Not every child will want to hunt but if a family member wants to teach their child those skills, why not? In reality there is a lot more “armed hiking” going on than actual killing, at least in the North Country.

  8. Dan says:

    The sooner they get started, the better. As one poster pointed out, the young hunters, fresh out of hunter-ed, are among the safest out there. I have mentored several 12- and 13-year-olds on youth turkey and small game hunts as well as some age 14 and 15 on deer hunts. I am always impressed with their attentiveness. They’re a pleasure to be around. New York lowered the big game hunting age from 16 to 14 about a decade ago (small game has been 12 for years), and now it’s time to continue the trend.

    • JohnL says:

      Well said Hope and Dan. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of hunting with my father and brother., Back then, we would take the opening day of _____ season off from school to go hunting. Of course, I usually had to sit in detention the day I got back, but the trade off was a no-brainer. As Hope mentions, not all kids will want to do this. My twin daughters had no interest in hunting, but I made sure they were familiar with the operation of my guns so there would be no accidents in our household. With all the issues of kids growing up without fathers, I would think there’d be no question that this is a good thing.

      • Boreas says:

        Wouldn’t you agree it depends on the child and the parents? Bad habits can be learned as well as good ones. My dad was great, but I knew other fathers and “guardians” who weren’t. I started hunting with my father without a weapon when I was 5. It was my dad’s only hobby. But I knew other kids whose fathers would drink, poach, and shoot from cars with the kid along.

        • Dan says:

          How do you decide what age a parent’s habits are overcome?

          Some states don’t have an age limit. They leave it up to the parents and the young person’s ability to pass a hunter education class and show proficiency with a firearm.