Pointing to a growing interest in hunting, New York state is expanding the deer hunting season in the Southern Zone with a “Holiday Deer Hunt.”
The Department of Environmental Conservation is extending the late bow and muzzleloader hunting seasons for deer in 2021 from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, only in the state’s Southern Zone, which includes Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
The new season provides an additional seven days of late-season hunting with bows and muzzleloaders. Hunters must purchase a bowhunting or muzzleloading privilege to participate in the late season, while they may use all deer tags valid during those seasons.
The extended season will “provide new opportunities for New Yorkers and visiting hunters to venture afield during a time when families and friends are gathered together for the holidays and students are home on school break,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “The extended season is also a great time for younger hunters to go afield with experienced mentors and nurture their knowledge and skills as responsible members of the hunting community.”
The extended season will give deer hunters nearly three straight months to go afield. This past year in the Southern Zone the archery season opened Oct. 1 and ran through Nov. 20, the regular gun season was Nov. 21-Dec. 13 and the muzzleloader and late bowhunting seasons were Dec. 14-22.
DEC officials said the extended late hunt does not include the Northern Zone because deer may already be moving to wintering areas by late December and a hunt could result in localized overharvest.
DEC indicated it would “adaptively manage” the new late hunt and assess any potential impacts to other outdoor recreational activities or localized deer herds. Given the requirement for use of archery equipment and muzzleloading rifles, “biologists do not anticipate a significant effect on deer harvest or local deer populations,” DEC said.
Pennsylvania has a late archery and flintlock rifle season — this past year it ran the day after Christmas through Jan. 18.
In September, the DEC sought public comment on the proposal to hold the holiday hunt — the agency received more than 3,000 comments on the proposal and, after a careful review, advanced the proposal for adoption.
The new extended season will be posted in the Feb. 17 New York State Register.