Young archers can now tackle big game

George D. Maziarz

June 08, 2011


With Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s signing of a youth archery bill last week, hunters aged 12 and 13 will be able to hunt big game during the coming archery season.

Previously, youths ages 12 and 13 could hunt small game with a parent or designated adult 21 or older. For years, State Sen. George D. Maziarz (R-Newfane) had sponsored a Senate bill to allow for a lowering of the archery hunting age from 14 to 12.

Through those years, Maziarz sponsored the Senate version of this bill and Francine DelMonte (D-Lewiston) offered the Assembly bill. “But we were never able to get the Assembly to take up the bill,” Maziarz said after the governor signed the bill after its approval in both legislative bodies.

Maziarz sponsored the Senate bill and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Monticello) sponsored this Assembly version. Along with Gunther, Maziarz also credited newly elected Assemblyman John D. Ceretto (R-Lewiston) with support needed to finally get the bill onto the governor’s desk.

The governor signed the bill May 18.A 90-day filing period is required for New York State legislation to become law, noted Glen Aronow at Maziarz’s office. Hence, this new biggame archery hunting age will be in effect in time for the archery season opener.

Big-game archery in the Western New York regions of the DEC Southern Zone begins at sunrise on the Saturday following the second Monday of October (Columbus Day). This season, youths ages 12 and 13 accompanied by a parent or approved adult can hunt areas open to deer and bear hunting at and after Oct. 15.

To obtain a Resident Junior Bowhunting license, a youth must first pass an approved hunter education certification course for bowhunters and apply in person with an adult for that license.

Previously, the Junior Bowhunting license applied to youths ages 14 and 15. The requirement of an accompanying adult during archery season remains, but the age at which a youth can acquire that license will apply to ages 12 to 15 starting this season.

“That means more work for us,” Region 9 Sportsmen Education Program Coordinator Ken Baginski said jokingly after word was out that this new youth-age law had been signed.

Youths have many opportunities to learn bow-shooting skills through archery in school programs. Youths in New York State have had opportunities to hunt small game with an accompanying adult at ages 12 to 15 with a Junior Hunting permit.

Many archery certification classes could fill early this season with the passage of this youth bill. At current postings, 37 archery certification classes will be offered in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara counties before the Oct. 15 bow seasons open. Additional courses may be added when clubs and instructors learn of the new hunting-age law.

To check for the nearest bowhunter education class, go to dec. and scroll under Sportsmen Education Classes to entries for Bowhunter.