New York’s outdoor-recreation laws, some of the strictest on the books, have made it difficult for minors to gain experience hunting and trapping. Fortunately, a bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate near the end of the 2008 legislative session, (A.11033), which will provide children with greater opportunity to hunt and trap under the tutelage of a parent or mentor. I was proud to have supported this overdue reform to our state’s hunting and trapping laws.
New York failed to make youth hunting a priority or take the necessary steps to ensure the future growth of outdoor sports, for far too long. The best way for children to learn how to hunt is under the direction of experienced adults, parents and mentors alike, with a wealth of knowledge acquired over many seasons spent in New York’s forests, fields, and mountains and willing to teach children proper safety procedures.
A junior hunting license will allow a minor, starting at 12 years old, to harvest a variety of wildlife, excluding big game, with a firearm. Fourteen- or 15-year-olds will be able to hunt deer and bear with a firearm, provided they are closely supervised by an adult. This adult can be a guardian or mentor who is at least 21 years old and approved by the parent, if the parent does not wish to accompany the minor.
The person accompanying the younger sportsman must have three years hunting experience, hold a license to hunt big game, and maintain physical control over the minor at all times. Both the chaperone and minor are required to wear blaze orange clothing with no less than 50 percent worn above the waist while hunting. This bill will also allow a young person under the age of 12, who does not possess a trapping license, to join a parent or mentor who is a licensed trapper with at least three years of experience.
For many New Yorkers in the upstate area, hunting and trapping are an integral part of outdoor life. This legislation and the new youth hunting program it establishes will provide future generations of hunters, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts with the skills and training needed to enjoy the experience of hunting and trapping both as a sport and a means of provision. The legislation also promotes a safe way for young people to participate in these activities and bond with adult mentors in the great outdoors of our beautiful state.