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DEC Proposes Changes to Deer Hunting Rules



DEC has proposed rules affecting deer hunting to implement the state’s Five-Year Deer Management Plan. Here is the press release to announce the changes, followed by some additional links to more background information.

“Regulation changes are needed to implement many of the strategies of the recently adopted Management Plan for White-tailed Deer,” Commissioner Martens said. “The changes to the deer hunting seasons, mandatory antler restrictions, use of Deer Management Permits (DMPs), and development of Deer Management Focus Areas will increase opportunities for New York hunters, consistent with input we’ve received from the public and deer management goals.”

DEC adopted the five- year deer management plan in October 2011 following extensive public input and can be viewed at:

Comments previously submitted on the draft deer management plan were important in finalizing the deer plan and developing this rulemaking proposal. DEC will accept public comments on this proposal through May 21, 2012. Comments on this rule should be specific to the proposals herein and should not be resubmissions of previous comments submitted on the full deer management plan or previous regulatory proposals.

This rule also proposes some adjustment of bear hunting seasons, which are generally concurrent with deer seasons. DEC is proposing to:

  • Establish a three-day youth firearms season for deer to occur during Columbus Day weekend in portions of the Northern and Southern Zone where deer may be taken with a firearm which will increase opportunities for junior hunters. Junior hunters (ages 14 and 15) will be authorized to take one deer of either-sex with a firearm during the youth season. DEC anticipates participation by approximately 16,000 youth hunters, roughly one youth hunter for every two to three square miles of deer habitat in New York. The youth season will run concurrently with early bowhunting season and is not expected to have any noticeable impact on deer behavior or bowhunter success, particularly in light of the more than 100,000 small game hunters also afield during the early fall. Youth deer hunts are held concurrent with bowhunting seasons in many other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Opinions of potential participants about a youth firearms season can be found at
  • Lengthen bowhunting seasons in the Southern Zone by moving to a fixed opening date of October 1 to increase bowhunting opportunities. This will lengthen bowhunting seasons in the Southern Zone, and lengthen the regular season (bowhunting only) in Westchester County by an average of 15 days and include an additional four weekend days in most years.
  • Adjust the Northern Zone muzzleloader and regular season start dates by up to one week later certain years to increase bowhunting opportunities and accommodate the proposed youth firearms season. This rule will begin the Northern Zone muzzleloader and regular seasons one week later in 6 of 10 years allowing for a longer early bow season these years.
  • Establish a late bowhunting season in the Northern Zone, concurrent with the late muzzleloading season, to increase bowhunting opportunities. This rule will increase bowhunting opportunities in the Northern Zone by an additional seven days and will be similar to the concurrent bow and muzzleloader seasons in the Southern Zone.
  • Allow DMPs to be used during Northern Zone bow and early muzzleloader seasons to simplify regulations and increase hunter opportunity and choice. Current regulations allow use of DMPs in the Northern Zone only during the regular season and late muzzleloader season. This change will only affect those portions of the Northern Zone where DMPs can be issued (Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A, 6C, 6G, 6H, 6K), and this change will not affect the number of DMPs issued. WMU locations can be identified at
  • Establish mandatory antler restrictions in WMUs 3A, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W to reduce harvest of yearling (1.5 year old) bucks. The mandatory antler restriction will prohibit hunters during all seasons in all portions of the listed WMUs from taking an antlered deer unless it has at least 3 points on at least one antler. Hunters less than 17 years old will be exempt from the restriction. In 2011, yearlings comprised 49 percent of the total adult bucks taken in these units. This rule is expected to change harvest composition so that 15-20 percent of the adult bucks taken in these units are yearlings. The restriction is expected to decrease total buck harvest approximately 35-45 percent initially. Simplify the description of the area open for deer hunting during the January firearms season to include Suffolk County, subject to local discharge restrictions. Current regulations include a complex and lengthy description of open areas that are unnecessary considering existing local ordinances and legal setbacks from structures for discharge of firearms. Establish provisions for designation of Deer Management Focus Areas to intensify use of traditional hunting in specifically designated geographic areas to assist communities with the burden of overabundant deer populations. This rule will increase bag limits to two antlerless deer per hunter per day and establish a Deer Management Focus Area deer hunting season in late January. This rule will establish specific permit, tagging and reporting requirements in focus areas. This rule also defines the first such focus area in Tompkins County that includes portions of the towns of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Enfield, Ithaca, Lansing, Newfield, and Ulysses. This area has very high deer populations and relatively poor access for hunters. Deer management focus areas will enable greater harvest opportunity for hunters who are able to gain access to lands for hunting, and are intended to augment on-going management activities in the affected area.
  • Adjust bear seasons in the Northern and Southern Zone to remain consistent with bow, muzzleloader and regular seasons for deer.
  • Correct a road name in the boundary descriptions for WMUs 5A and 5C, where Franklin County Route 24 was incorrectly identified as State Route 24.

To see more detailed explanations of these proposals, including instructions for providing comments, visit the DEC website at The proposed rulemaking can also be viewed in detail in the April 4, 2012 publication of the New York State Register, which is available at

The public comment period will remain open until May 21. Please do not submit comments by replying to this email message. Rather, please review the proposal documents and use the mailing address or email link provided with the proposal documents at (see Parts 1 and 4 – Single Species and Species Management Areas [White-tailed Deer and Black Bear]).

For additional background on these proposals, I encourage you to review Appendix 2 (Proposed Deer Hunting Season Structure) and Appendix 3 (Alternative Buck Harvest Strategies) in the Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in New York State, and the Assessment of Public Comment on the Draft Deer Management Plan, all available at You may also find information regarding some of the proposals, including the youth hunt, changes to bowhunting seasons and mandatory antler restrictions, on our website at: Deer and Bear Hunter Surveys ( and Antler Restrictions in New York (

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How to Shoot a Compound Bow Properly – Ultimate Guide



Shooting a compound bow might seem as simple as picking up the bow, drawing the string with an arrow, and releasing it. If that’s how you think it works, then you’re dead wrong. It takes a world of knowledge and practice to learn how to properly shoot a compound bow. Luckily for you, we’re going to teach you how to do it with this compound bow shooting tutorial.

Preparing the Bow

Your compound bow should use high-quality strings that aren’t worn or heavily used. Your bow should be in good shape and properly maintained. You should be aware of how much draw pressure your bow can handle. If possible, use a compound bow that you’ve used before and that you’re familiar with, or use a compound bow that an expert archer has provided. Ideally, you should learn how to shoot a compound bow from someone who has a lot of experience shooting such a bow successfully.


You should face the target at about a 45-degree angle. Your feet should be parallel to one another and about 17-25 inches apart. Your toes should be directly facing the target. If you use such a stance you’ll have a much easier time drawing your bow and you’ll have a better chance of hitting your target dead-on.


Use a firm but relaxed grip with your bow-holding hand. If your grip is too tight on the bow then you won’t have as much accuracy on your shot. Try using a wrist sling if you are unable to master the art of a firm yet comfortable grip. Don’t be ashamed because the main point is accuracy and whatever you can do to attain the perfect shot is fine. Never, and I repeat NEVER, shoot with an open hand. You don’t ever want to grab the bow with your drawing hand during a shot – this is undoubtedly the worst mistake you can make when shooting a compound bow because it can lead to fatal errors.


When you draw the string, you should be locking your string hand against the side of your face. This is what’s known as the “anchor” position. The string and your hand will be on the right side of your face, and vice versa if you are left-handed. You can achieve the highest level of archery accuracy by anchoring the string at the corner of your mouth – or under your chin.


You should extend your bow arm directly toward your target with the string gripped firmly between your fingers… or by using a mechanical release device, if you prefer. Point the bow at the target and pull the string smoothly and firmly. Extend the bow all the way, pull the string back to its maximum point of a full draw, and resist the urge to move the compound bow forward. Make sure that you use a bow that is suited for you because a bow with a draw that is too heavy will destroy your accuracy.


If you’re using a bow that is equipped with a sight then aiming will be easier, but it still won’t be perfect. Bow sights are good for average shooters, especially if a laser sight is involved. The key to natural aiming is practice. The best archers usually aim slightly above the target (depending on wind conditions) so they can aim while still looking directly at the target.


Your release can determine whether or not your shot hits the mark. You need a smooth release, and you need to relax all of your fingers completely before you release the string for the shot. Even the slightest amount of finger tension can disrupt your aim. If you have a mechanical release aid the shot will be easier because all you have to do is draw, aim, and pull the release trigger for the compound bow. This type of mechanism can fail you, however… if you slap the trigger then the arrow will go astray.


Just as in golf, the follow-through is extremely important in archery. Why? The arrow has already been released, right? You need to keep aiming until your arrow hits the target. The follow-through is largely a mental thing. You need to see your arrow hitting the target while you are steadily holding your bow. Never lower your bow after the arrow has been released. Stay in formation and hold your position until the arrow hits the target.


If you want to become an expert at shooting a compound bow then you need to practice. The saying “practice makes perfect” isn’t really true. You need to invoke the saying of “perfect practice makes perfect” because practicing something the wrong way will get you nowhere. When your target of choice is out of season then you shouldn’t lay back and watch TV until it’s time to hunt again. Set up targets and keep a compound bow in your hands as much as you can.


After reading this article there’s no excuse for becoming an expert compound bow shooter. From choosing the right equipment to shooting correctly there is an equation to correctly shooting a compound bow. Do you have any tips on shooting a compound bow? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below.

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NYS DEC Misses the Mark with New Regulations



New changes are heading our way for the 2015 deer season in New York. For those of us hunting in Westchester County and a few other WMUs that have historically had an overpopulation of deer we now have a newly created 2-week long antlerless-only season – the only problem is that it’s the first 2-weeks of bow season.

For some, that’s not an issue, but to others, it just crushed their chances of killing that buck they’ve been patterning since the season ended in 2014. Why? Because those first 2-weeks also happen to be the last few days you can catch a buck on its summer pattern.

The DEC says that management goals are not being met in these WMUs which is why we need the antlerless-only season. Well, I can tell you changing the first two weeks to antlerless-only is going to have a minimal impact, if any, on the antlerless harvest. The guys that want to shoot bucks will be spending their time in NJ or CT and the rest of us, well, we kill does all season long so it’s business as usual for us.

If the DEC really wanted to increase the antlerless harvest we could have looked to our neighbors over in CT and simply extended the hunting season for another month by starting in September, extending into January or both.

We also are still a 2-buck state (1 Regular Season buck tag, 1 Either Sex archery tag). If we dropped one of the tags, like most of the ‘big-buck’ states, and became a 1-buck state I think you’d also see the antlerless harvest go up…not to mention we’d probably have a few more decent bucks running around.

Time will tell how these new regulations end up working, but I think we already know, this isn’t going to work.

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Bowhunting News

NYS DEC Misses the Mark with New Regulations



First meeting of 2014 for the WCBA

The Westchester County Bowhunters Association will hold its winter meeting on January 21,2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Teatown Lake Reservation Ossining, NY.

One of the hot topics for discussion I’m sure will be the plans that Teatown has for using sharpshooters to cull 75 deer from the reservation property. Why Teatown isn’t using a free resource like Westchester County’s own bowhunters and is choosing to use taxpayer money to hire sharp shooters is beyond me. Hopefully, we get some answers on this Tuesday night.

About the WCBA: Since 1979, the Westchester County Bowhunters Association has worked at expanding the knowledge of local non-hunters in order that they understand the importance of sound wildlife conservation, and by that we mean effectively controlling Westchester County’s deer populations through Bow hunting.

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