For the first time a youth hunt weekend for deer has taken place. Regardless of public opinion and legislative disapproval, the Department of Environmental Conservation pushed it through, taking advantage of the governors apparent refusal to sign the legislative bill that was sent to his desk. Depending on where someone lived in the state, it created a varying conflict with other sporting groups, particularly with bowhunters.
If I lived in the Southern Zone for big game, I wouldnt have much opposition to a youth deer hunt. The bow season there is quite long and even longer this year, because it was extended two more weeks with an Oct. 1 opening. For years it opened on Oct. 15, which is still over a month- long season. Now that season is six weeks long.
However, I live in the Northern Zone where the situation is entirely different. The rifle season is six-plus weeks long, providing plenty of time for a youth deer hunt. The archery season this year was 19 days, of which seven were shared with muzzle-toters and three were shared with rifle-toters, leaving nine weekdays. If a bowhunter could only hunt weekends, considering the shared seasons, he/she was denied unconflicted use of his/her tag. These differences should have been taken into consideration when the DEC was dreaming up this idea.
What of junior archers in the Northern Zone? If they are involved with school activities during the week and unable to hunt weekdays, they are in essence being shut out too. In addition, they have to take not one but two safety courses for the privilege to be shut out. Keep in mind this is a 12- to 15-year old age group, not 14 and 15 year olds. Plus they have to pay more for the stamp to enjoy this privilege.
So after taking two safety courses, junior archers in the Northern Zone had the choice of blowing off school or sharing the outdoors with firearms. I think any 12-year-old taking those courses knows how to spell hypocrisy.
Northern Zone archers have always had to share the muzzleloading week, and the safety record for that week up here isnt the greatest. Much more could be said of the inequities between the Southern Zone and the Northern Zone in relation to the youth hunt and the seasons in general, but there isnt space.
In short, I think the youth hunt was poorly conceived and even more poorly implemented. The governor really dropped the ball by not signing that bill. The Legislature did the right think by trying to hold the DEC to some level of accountability, but he ignored that opportunity.