NYLON – At last light today, thousands of 14 and 15-year-olds will walk out of the woods with memories and experience that they will own for the rest of their lives.
Today marks the last day of the special youth firearms season established in 2012 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to give young hunters the chance to go afield with a certified adult and learn the ropes of deer hunting every Columbus Day weekend.
According to DEC data from the 2012 youth firearms hunt, 1,411 deer were taken statewide that year. Of these, 53 percent were antlered and 47% were antlerless. Of eligible juniors with hunting licenses, 7,779, or 61 percent, participated.
To be eligible, youth must have completed a course in Hunter Education and have a Hunting license. They must be accompanied by an adult mentor, who is a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 21 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form. Adult mentor must be licensed to hunt big game and have three years of big game hunting experience.
Each youth hunter can shoot one antlered or antlerless deer. Their mentors are not allowed to carry a firearm or bow.
The first youth hunt had no reported no safety violations or injuries, and no junior hunters were cited for hunting violations. The DEC’s regulations continue to protect youth hunters especially from accidents.
The adult mentor must maintain physical control over the junior hunter at all times while hunting. This means the mentor and junior hunter must be close enough to talk without the aid of a radio and must be able to see each other.
Both the junior hunter and mentor must remain on the ground while hunting, meaning that they cannot use a tree stand or hunt from an elevated platform.
Both the junior hunter and mentor must wear hunter orange visible from all directions, being a shirt, jacket or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange with at least 50 percent of the pattern being orange, or a hat with at least 50 percent orange.
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