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Hunting opportunities expanded in state

Sporting licenses for the 2011-12 seasons went on sale Monday prior to the Oct. 1 renewal date for New York State.

The DEC cautions license holders to safely store that paper string of tags and to avoid preserving the back tag and other documents in a plastic heat-sealing process. Heat obliterates print on tags.

Licenses can be obtained at town halls and online through DECALS (DEC Automated License System). Call 866-933-2257.

The hunting guide can be obtained at all license-issuing sites, but printing delays of the fishing guide may prevent that booklet from being available when renewing licenses. A copy can be downloaded from dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37136.html.

The antlerless tag program has been upgraded so that hunters no longer have to get in line early on the first day of issuance for a better chance for "Doe tags." An elaborate drawing system has been set up so that someone who went for a permit on the first day they were available, Aug. 15, had the same odds of getting one who goes for one on the final day, Oct. 15.

New regulations this year expand hunting opportunities for young archers, rifle hunters, and woodcock hunters.

Legislation passed this year allows youths ages 12 and 13 to hunt big game with a bow. Certification, focused target practicing, and field instruction are a must to ensure the safety and quality of the hunt for young archers.

Woodcock hunters will have an expanded season this year. Open hunting will now be 45 days, going daily from sunrise to sunset Oct. 1 to Nov. 14. Woodcock hunters can take three birds daily. They do not need to use non-toxic shot, but must obtain a New York State Harvest Information Program number.

To date, crow is the only hunted migratory bird species that does not require a HIP number in New York. Hunters seeking details on filing for a free HIP number can call (888) 427-5447 or go to ny-hip.com.

Passage of a crossbow hunting regulation now establishes this device as a legal hunting device in the state. However, the season for use of crossbows excludes the regular archery season.

Hunters in WNY can go afield with a crossbow when the early bear season opens for the Southern Zone on Oct. 15. Later, the crossbow can be used to hunt throughout the regular gun season and the late muzzleloader season. The only exclusion to crossbow hunting in Western New York is a designated "bow-only" area in Monroe County. For details on this excluded area, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/35010.htm.

This season, all of Wyoming County and most of Chautauqua County will be open to rifle hunting during open big-game hunting seasons.

email: odrswill@gmail.com