After years of debate, the New York Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) announced that a special deer hunt for youths (age 14-15 and accompanied by a mentor) will take place over the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 6-8 this year).

The controversial hunt made its way to the DEC proposal stage early this summer. Although supported by the majority of the state’s sportsmen, the hunt was strongly opposed by the NY Bowhunters Inc. and assorted others asserting that it would interfere with their newly expanded bowhunting season.

The group mounted an opposition campaign and were successful in having legislation written which would have killed the youth hunt. However, it was not signed into law by Governor Cuomo and as of last Friday the DEC announced that the hunt is on unless the legislation which is still pending, should some day become law.

According to officials, junior hunters (ages 14-15) with a big game hunting license will be eligible to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult. Junior hunters may use a Deer Management Permit or Deer Management Assistance Program tag for an antlerless deer or, during the youth firearms season only, they may use their regular season tag to take a deer of either sex. In areas restricted to bowhunting only (Westchester County and parts of Albany and Monroe counties), junior hunters may only use bowhunting equipment to take deer during the youth hunt weekend. More details of the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt and rules for junior hunters and their mentors are available at