Big-game management decisions can be testy. Add regulations that fitfully meet game-management scientific standards and the brouhaha becomes far from funny.
For years, the Department of Environmental Conservation has sought ways to increase the harvest of antlerless deer. In Pennsylvania, antler restrictions and harvesting antlerless deer early in the archery season caused conflict and chaos to the extent that the big-game management supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Gary Alt, took an early retirement to avoid the constant contention -- laced with a few death threats -- as the program was starting more than five hunting seasons ago.
Now, the New York Bowhunters and the New York State Muzzleloaders Association have crafted a mutual set of four recommendations the two organizations believe would help in managing deer numbers and satisfy big-game gun and bow hunters, particularly in Southern Zone areas that are more densely populated.
Gary Socola, NYB president, and Bill Brookover, NYSMLA president, pose these four recommendations:
(1) Open the 23-day regular firearms season on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
(2) Open the early archery season on Oct. 1, ending on the Friday before regular firearms season.
(3) Allow for a weekend of junior (ages 14 and 15) big-game hunting opportunity on the weekend before the opening of regular firearms season.
(4) Open a five-day antlerless-only "primitive" muzzleloading season on the Monday prior to beginning of the regular firearms season, ending on the Friday prior to the beginning of the regular firearms season.
A primitive muzzleloader is defined as a rifle or musket with a smooth or rifled barrel loaded through the muzzle and shooting a round, patched ball. Both percussion-cap and flintlock-type firearms would be allowed, but no optics could be used when targeting.
NYB and NYSMLA submitted these proposed regulations changes to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis on Sept. 11. Both groups welcome input on their suggested changes. To comment online, go to newyorkbowhunters.com or nysmla.org or send comments to the e-mail address below.