- Hunter Orange or Pink is required when hunting with a firearm in NYS – NYS Hunting Accidents in 2021 are the LOWEST ON RECORD.
- NYS Hunter Education information: Basic Rules of Hunter Safety.
- Chautauqua County is among the highest deer harvest areas in NYS.
- NYS Whitetail Deer are 100 percent CWD-FREE. More than 200,000 deer were harvested by hunters last year.
By Dave Barus
The NYS Southern Zone regular big game season (black bear and whitetail deer) will open on Saturday, Nov. 19. Hunting is among the state’s most popular forms of wildlife recreation, drawing an estimated 600,000 hunters (resident and non-resident) afield each year. NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to respectfully share the woods and follow common-sense safety precautions this fall and winter. “With most public land across NYS open to multiple forms of recreation, from hiking and nature photography to hunting and trapping, visitors should be cautious, courteous, and responsible when sharing the woods to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience,” said Commissioner Seggos.” DEC encourages all visitors to review the safety guidelines for hunting and recreating in the woods before going afield and respectfully sharing the outdoors with others.”
Big game hunters using a firearm are required to wear hunter orange or pink. NYSDEC encourages non-hunters to wear blaze orange, blaze pink, or another bright color during fall and winter to be seen more easily and from greater distances. In addition, wearing bright colors makes it easier for Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police Officers, and other rescue personnel to find lost, sick, or injured people afield.
Hunting is safe and economically significant, helping to manage wildlife populations and promote family traditions while fostering an understanding and respect for the environment. Hikers should know they may encounter hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment on trails. Hunters should recognize that they may meet hikers and others enjoying the outdoors. Hunting-related shooting incidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. The 2021 hunting seasons in New York were the safest ever, with the lowest number of incidents since record-keeping began.
Hunters can minimize the potential for disturbance by and to other forms of recreation by following a few tips. Before a season opens, when hunters are scouting for the perfect spot or stand location, take the time to check if the planned location is popular. Avoiding places that crowd other hunters or near a sought-out hiking spot can improve the hunting and recreational experience. If a preferred hunting spot is too crowded, identify an alternative location ahead of time.
State Forests in Chautauqua County, in southwest NYS, provide forage for game and space for hunters. These include North Harmony State Forest, Boutwell Hill State Forest, Mt. Pleasant State Forest, and Panama State Forest.
DEC maintains hiking, biking, skiing, and snowmobile trails in Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill parks and in State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, and Unique Areas open to hunting. DEC launched the ‘Love Our New York Lands’ campaign to encourage visitors to State-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation. Love Our New York Lands bolsters ongoing NYS and partner-led efforts to educate the public about how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without negatively impacting natural resources.
Find recreation options by visiting DEC’s Trails Less Traveled or checking out DECinfo Locator. Many trails are accessible to people with disabilities. Check out DEC’s YouTube playlist, with tips for planning and preparing for a hike: Hiking Essentials, and DEC’s Hunter Education playlist for hunter information Basic Rules of Hunter Safety.
The hunting day begins 30 minutes before sunrise and ends each day 30 minutes after sunset. While legal to hunt in the dim light of these periods, hunters are encouraged to be vigilant of their aim, their shot, and beyond their shot.