On February 27, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the 2022 hunting seasons tied 2021 for the safest-ever year, with the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents since record-keeping began. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) investigated nine hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs) in 2022, including one fatality.
“It’s clear from these findings that the vast majority of New York hunters follow the State’s stringent safety guidelines and do their part to ensure a safe and enjoyable season,” Commissioner Seggos said. “This record year for safety is a testament to the DEC expert staff, volunteers, and local hunting clubs that work collaboratively to teach safety to hunters of all ages. I commend their efforts and for all hunters who safely and responsibly contributed to our conservation efforts this season.”
Ruffed grouse hunters are reminded to positively identify their quarry before shooting. The Northern Zone, specifically Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J, is also home to the spruce grouse. The spruce grouse is a state-endangered species and is not legal to hunt. Loss of a spruce grouse, particularly a female spruce grouse, could be a significant setback for a small local population.
Spruce grouse occur in lowland conifer forests in the Adirondacks. During the fall, spruce grouse frequently make their way to roads to eat gravel and occasionally travel into upland hardwood forests where ruffed grouse occur. Small game hunters in the Adirondack region must be able to distinguish between these species so that spruce grouse are not shot by mistake. For tips on how to discern the two species, view the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or the Ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.
DEC is looking for ruffed grouse hunters to submit feathers from harvested birds in order to assess recruitment (number of young produced per adult female grouse) for different parts of the state. Interested hunters should visit the Ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.
With the Southern Zone regular big game season beginning Saturday, Nov. 19 throughout much of the southern part of New York State, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to respectfully share the woods and follow common-sense safety precautions this fall and winter.
“With most public land across New York State open to multiple forms of recreation, from hiking and nature photography to hunting and trapping, visitors should be cautious, courteous, and responsible when sharing the woods to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience,” said Commissioner Seggos. “DEC encourages all visitors to review the safety guidelines for hunting and recreating in the woods before going afield and respectfully sharing the outdoors with others.”
DEC requires big game hunters using a firearm to wear hunter orange or pink and encourages non-hunters to wear blaze orange, blaze pink, or another bright color during fall and winter months to be seen more easily and from greater distances. In addition, wearing bright colors makes it easier for Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and other rescue personnel to find lost, sick, or injured people afield.
Fall is here and that means hunting and trapping seasons are opening for deer, turkey, and other game. Whether you are in the field or your kitchen, here are some tips to hunt, cook, and eat in a sustainable way:
Learn a variety of recipes to make the most of your game harvests. From jerky to meatballs to crockpot stews options abound.
Make compostable items part of your menu, this includes vegetables like carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and more. They will provide a nice compliment to your meal and result in little or no waste.
Hunting and trapping seasons are beginning to open throughout New York State. These activities are enjoyed by many as forms of recreation and a means of providing for their families. These activities can also benefit forest ecosystems by helping maintain healthy animal populations while reducing nuisance wildlife issues and, in some cases, decreasing the transmission of wildlife diseases. Whether you are a hunter, trapper, or just enjoy getting outdoors in the fall, learning how to share public lands with other users will help keep you and fellow visitors safe.
On Tuesday, September 27, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the beginning of several hunting seasons in New York, including bowhunting for bear and deer in the Northern and Southern zones and the start of small game hunting seasons statewide.
“This is an exciting time of year for hunters who now have an opportunity to head afield and experience the tremendous hunting opportunities here in New York for both big and small game,” Commissioner Seggos said. “In addition, the late summer weather, fall foliage, and extended hunting hours combine to create outstanding conditions for new and experienced hunters who enjoy the sport.”
On August 24, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the annual St. Lawrence County Youth Hunt will be held this September, providing an exciting opportunity for junior hunters to learn from expert Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs). The program is free for participants.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos reminded hunters that September marks the beginning of several hunting opportunities in New York State. Hunting seasons for squirrel and Canada goose begin September 1 in upstate New York, and the early bear season and early antlerless deer season begin September 10 in select wildlife management units (WMUs).
“Early hunting seasons are a great opportunity to mentor new hunters and introduce them to the conservation value and importance of hunting,” said Seggos. “The early bear season, antlerless deer season, and September goose season are all designed to reduce or stabilize wildlife populations in particular areas of the state. By participating in these seasons, hunters help manage wildlife populations toward socially and ecologically desirable levels, while also obtaining excellent meat for their families and friends.”
On Tuesday, August 23, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) for Valcour Island will continue in 2022. The program, launched in the fall of 2020, offers opportunities to take antlerless deer on Valcour Island with antlerless deer tags.
The NYS DEC’s Hunter Education program has recently announced pilot “Next Step” courses for those who have already completed a hunter education or bowhunter education certification course, and are currently seeking more hands-on experience before the upcoming season. Each four-hour Next Step course focuses on safety, techniques, and hands-on field instruction. There is no certification offered with these courses.
Students will need their Hunter Education certificate number to register for a Next Step course. The minimum age is 12-years-old, and there are still spots left in upcoming Next Step Bowhunting and Crossbow courses slated for early August.
Catfish Marks First New York State Record Fish Established in 2022
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that the State record for channel catfish was broken on May 8, 2022. Using cut bait while bottom fishing, Bailey Williams of Watertown reeled in a 35-pound, 12-ounce channel catfish from the Black River in Jefferson County. Bailey’s record-breaking catch surpassed the previous state record catfish, caught from Lake Ontario in 2017, by 9 ounces.
Surveys Conducted April through October 2022 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced open-water fishing creel surveys are being conducted for a second year on the New York waters of Lake Champlain through October 2022.
This open-water fishing survey, along with the ice fishing survey, provides DEC fisheries biologists with a better understanding of angler use, catch, harvest, and expectations to help inform management actions on Lake Champlain.
New York State offers several youth hunting opportunities to allow young hunters time afield with experienced adult hunters outside of the regular hunting seasons. As a result, they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. This spring, the youth turkey hunt is April 23 and 24.
If you’re an experienced, licensed hunter, please consider taking a youth out! The youth season is open throughout upstate New York and even in Suffolk County. Several non-profit groups sponsor specific events, and we encourage experienced hunters to reach out and take a kid hunting.
Other details of the youth turkey hunting weekend are as follows:
Eligible hunters are youth 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit.
All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult, as required by law for a junior hunter.
Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. S/he 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. Crossbows may not be used by licensees who are under 14 years of age.
The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County. Shooting hours are from 1/2-hour before sunrise to noon.
The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. Asecond bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1.
All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.
Photo at top: A youth turkey hunting participant. DEC photo.
On April 6, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced proposed changes to wild turkeyhunting regulations, giving hunters additional turkeyhunting opportunities. The proposal, if enacted, would not be in place until later this year and among other changes, establishes a spring turkey season in Suffolk County in 2023, with a season limit of one bearded bird.
Walleye Challenge – Great Sacandaga Lake, Fulton/Saratoga/Franklin/Essex Counties On Feb. 18, ECOs and Sheriff’s Deputies in Fulton and Montgomery counties conducted patrols on Great Sacandaga Lake the evening before the annual Walleye Challenge ice fishing contest. Officers checked ice ridges on the lake and alerted event organizers about safety hazards and open water. On the morning of Feb. 19, ECOs were joined by local law enforcement from the New York State Police, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to monitor the challenge, which drew 2,000 participants. Using snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs, the Officers focused on public safety. Throughout the day, the ECOs responded to four calls for machines and individuals through the ice and into the water; all who fell through made it out safely. A half-submerged snowmobile was recovered, as well.
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