Ragging on deer management in New York is nothing new for us—last year we declared Staten Island’s deer vasectomy experiment “America’s most ineffective deer management program.” Next week, though, New York has a chance to redeem itself by doing away with what we’d consider the worst whitetail hunting law in the country.
While nearly all of North America allows deer hunting from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, the Empire State doesn’t. Instead, their legal hunting hours are limited from sunrise to sunset—taking hunters out of the game for what’s arguably the finest hour of deer movement of the entire day. But thanks to Proposed Amendment 2.1 for the state’s deer and bear hunting regulations, that could finally change.
“During any hunting season established by law or fixed by order of the department for deer or bear, hunting hours daily shall be from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset,” the proposal reads.
New York hunters are rejoicing, as are conservation groups across the country. The National Deer Association (NDA), whose mission is to “ensure the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat, and hunting,” has long championed this change.
“The NDA fully supports the proposed rule that extends daily deer hunting hours to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, consistent with most legal hunting hours around the country,” said Torin Miller, NDA’s director of policy. “In fact, the NDA and its members have been advocating for this change for nearly a year. As DEC notes in the management plan, New York is the only state that limits deer hunting to between sunrise and sunset.”
Well-intentioned concerns about safety have kept this law on the books for longer than necessary. But as the NDA points out, hunting in ambient light is no more dangerous than hunting when the sun is high.
“There is no data supporting the notion that hunting during daylight prior to sunrise or after sunset results in any increased risk to safety,” Miller said. “Rather, data we’ve monitored on hunting accident rates that show hunting during this time is safe and appropriate for all hunters, and New York currently allows it for other game species (turkey, waterfowl, etc.).”
The comment period for this amendment is open through Aug. 8. Although most of us might never hunt deer in New York, let’s help our fellow whitetailers in the Northeast by emailing the Department of Environmental Conservation. It’s time to sunset this archaic shooting light law.
Feature image via Matt Hansen.