New York hunters have until July 28 to comment on a proposed deer management plan that is (big surprise) stirring up some controversy. According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal three of the lightning rod proposals by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) appear to be the creation of an early youth hunting season, expanded hunting days for bowhunters in the southern zone, and putting additional zones under Antler Point Restrictions (APRs).
Having recently lived through contentious debates over APR’s in my home state of Minnesota, I recognize the complexity of this issue and will reserve comment. That’s a different blog post for another day.
But any controversy over the other two issues is lost on me. Let’s start with the youth season. New York is no different than many other states; its hunting population is aging, and young-hunter recruitment has been a problem. So the DEC proposes an early-October weekend for 14-16 year olds to have an early and exclusive shot at whitetails, before the cold weather and circus atmosphere of the general firearms opener. This type of season has been tried with great success in many states and is a proven winner. Who can argue with that? I’ll tell you who: short-sighted hunters who won’t tolerate anyone–even a kid trying to kill his first deer–getting first crack at “their” buck.
The opposition to the earlier bowhunting start isn’t a whole lot different. New York has one of the shortest archery-exclusive seasons around; about a month of hunting before the general firearms opener. But according to the source listed in the WSJ story, giving bowhunters two extra weeks “will only lessen the opportunity for success for those who hunt during the regular gun season.” Clearly this man has not checked in to the success rates or harvest stats for bowhunting lately.
Folks, we are going to have to learn to share. If a state’s whitetail resource can handle some additional harvest–and clearly the New York DEC feels theirs can–we have got to jump on every chance to create additional opportunity.