Deer and bear hunters must wear some fluorescent orange or pink clothing during New York’s firearms seasons in 2021, while legal shooting time has been expanded by about an hour each day.
DEC announced the proposed changes in June 2021, after adopting the updated New York State Deer Management Plan. After review of the public comments received on the proposed changes, DEC adopted the rules as proposed. A summary of the public comments received and DEC’s response is available on the DEC website and in the latest issue of the New York State Register.
The rule change requires anyone hunting big game with a firearm, or accompanying someone hunting big game with a firearm, to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat, vest or jacket. The DEC does not specify a square-inch total of fluorescent fabric that a hunter must wear — a hat or vest suffices.
New York was one of the few states that did not require some fluorescent orange or pink clothing during its firearms seasons for big game. Many hunters have chosen to wear orange — and the DEC has encouraged hunters to do so — but now it is required.
“Most two-party hunting-related shooting incidents in New York involve a hunter victim who was not wearing fluorescent orange or pink clothing,” the DEC stated in a press release Wednesday. “Similar fluorescent orange requirements exist in most states,” including Pennsylvania.
“I am confident that the rule changes ... will provide hunters with a better all-around experience while ensuring their safety,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “In addition, these actions bring New York in line with the common practices of states and provinces across North America.”
Hunting hours for deer and bear now include the full period of ambient light from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
The DEC indicated that other states allow deer hunting beginning one-half hour before sunrise or earlier, or specify daylight hours, and 46 of 50 states allow deer hunting until some period (mostly one-half hour) after sunset.
The DEC also extended the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone to allow a holiday deer hunt from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
Also new is a nine-day season for antlerless deer Sept. 11-19 using firearms in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A and 9F and using bowhunting equipment in WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J and 8C.
The new early antlerless season does not apply to any WMUs in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
The DEC said management objectives in these units are either to decrease the deer population or maintain a stable population — increasing the antlerless harvest is needed to achieve these objectives.
Bear hunting season in the Adirondack region was simplified by extending the regular season to cover the entire hunting period.
Goose season opens
One of the first New York seasons to open every year is the September “resident” Canada goose season.
Although they may look the same, “resident” Canada geese are those that breed in the United States and southern Canada, unlike “Atlantic Population” (or “AP”) Canada geese, their relatives that breed in northern Canada and migrate through New York.
Typically, resident geese produce more young per pair and survive at a higher rate than AP geese. As the resident goose population has grown, season lengths and bag limits have been liberalized and hunters have successfully stabilized the population, according to the DEC.
The September season is an important opportunity for hunters, as AP goose seasons have been restricted to 30 days and a one-bird bag in most areas to protect this more vulnerable population.