Albany, NY - September 23, 2015 - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman today reminded all new hunters and trappers planning to go afield this upcoming hunting and trapping season that they must first complete a mandatory hunter, bowhunter or trapper education course before they can obtain the appropriate sporting license.
"Hunting and trapping is a tradition in New York State that continues to be safely enjoyed by many," said Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. "Our education program provides future sportsmen and sportswomen training on how to be safe, responsible and ethical hunters and trappers."
DEC works closely with thousands of dedicated DEC-certified instructors statewide to provide these training courses free of charge. However, courses fill quickly, so those interested should sign up for a course soon to be sure they complete it before going afield.
With the DEC on-line registration system, viewing a list of all available sportsman education courses with the ability to search by date or the student's proximity to course locations can be easily done. Students have the ability to do their registration from any device - smartphone, tablet or computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Education courses are added continuously throughout the year, so be sure to check the on-line system frequently to find a course near you. To locate a nearby hunter or trapper education course, visit DEC's website or contact a local DEC regional wildlife office for assistance.
Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman also reminded New York sportsmen and sportswomen who hunt out-of-state to be sure to satisfy all of the hunter education requirements of the destination state well in advance. Some states require an original hunter education certificate and getting a replacement can be time consuming, if their original is misplaced. The DEC Sportsman Education Program has an extensive database from which replacement certificates can be issued if the course was taken in 1980 or after. Those unable to locate their original certificate, or cannot find a record of it, may be required to repeat a course. A previous hunting license cannot be used to reissue a certificate.
Crossbow hunting is once again allowed for big game and most small game species. Hunters who plan to hunt with a crossbow must have in their possession while afield a current year hunting license and either their completed Hunter Education Certificate of Qualification card dated on or after April 1, 2014 OR the completed Crossbow Certificate of Qualification from the annual Regulations Guide. More information on crossbow hunting and certification can be found in the Regulations Guide and on DEC's website.
Anyone planning to hunt with a crossbow must have hunting license accompanied with DEC hunter education course certification on or after April 1, 2014 or have completed a DEC-approved on-line or other training program. Hunters must carry a signed self-certification in the field when hunting with a crossbow as proof of compliance.
Reports on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents indicate that 2014 had the second lowest number on record in New York. In 2014 there were 22 hunting-related shooting incidents compared to 19 accidents in 2013. There were 22 compared to the lowest, 19 in 2013. The majority of these were self-inflicted. These low numbers are achieved through training and the regulations governing hunting activities in New York State. DEC's Sportsman Education Program is designed to teach and promote safe and effective hunting principles, practices and strategies. The program has been extremely successful over its 65 years of existence.
While hunting is safer than ever, accidents happen and it is important to remember that every hunting related shooting incident is preventable. The primary rules of hunter safety can prevent incidents from happening. Be sure to:
- assume every firearm to be loaded
- control the firearm muzzle in a safe direction
- keep finger off the trigger until ready to fire
- identify your target and what lies beyond and
- don't be shy...wear some hunter orange
Whether one is an experienced hunter or their first time in the field, it is imperative to prepare in advance if using a tree stand. Basic tips include using a certified stand, read and understand the manufacturer's instructions on its use, carefully inspect all parts of it and practice at ground level with the stand. Current research of reported tree stand incidents indicates that a majority of hunters (82 percent) were NOT using any type of body harness. Tree stand accidents can be significantly reduced or eliminated by using a fall arrest system/full body harness properly and applying some basic tree stand safety principles including the attachment to the tree while climbing up, down and while in it.