Rensselaer County is considering a local law that would allow 12- and 13-year-olds the ability to hunt with adult supervision.

Rensselaer County is considering a local law that would allow 12- and 13-year-olds the ability to hunt with adult supervision. The law has been encouraged for adoption in upstate counties by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The recently adopted New York State Budget includes legislation that allows youths aged 12 and 13 to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter. This special provision is available to upstate counties that must opt-in by local law in order to participate. Several local rod and gun clubs, and hunting enthusiasts, have reached out to Legislators urging Rensselaer County to opt in to the state’s new pilot program.

This Local Law will authorize Rensselaer County to permit 12 and 13 year old individuals to participate in the new and safe hunting opportunities in accordance with Environmental Conservation Law § 11-0935. The enacted 2021-2022 New York State Budget, include a pilot program, allowing the opportunity for young hunters, ages 12 and 13, to hunt deer with firearms and crossbow through 2023 if a county authorizes such action within their municipality. “Rensselaer County is passing this local law because hunting is a valued tradition for many families, and this new opportunity allows experienced, adult hunters to introduce the value of hunting to the next generation”, said Majority Leader Ken Herrington- Brunswick. Adoption of this Local Law allows Rensselaer County to participate in the temporary program to allow for young hunters to hunt deer with a firearm, to include rifles, shotguns, and muzzle loaded firearms or crossbow through 2023. The adults must directly supervise the minor and remain at ground level at all times. Both must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent pink or orange clothing and a similar hat.

Until this year, New York State was the only state in the country to not allow 12 and 13 year olds to hunt with a firearm.
“Teaching young people safe, responsible, and ethical hunting practices will ensure a rewarding experience for the youth, while providing quality food to families and contributing to important deer management population control practices’, said Legislator Bruce Patire- Hoosick Falls. The president of the Pioneer Fish and Game Club in Hoosick Falls had reached out to Legislator Patire and asked for him to support for the law. The president of the club, Donald McCabe added his support for the Local Law, “Expanding youth hunting opportunities to assist with deer management and cultivating a new generation of hunters is a top priority for DEC. Junior hunters are one of our safest age groups. This age group is more likely to pay attention and be receptive to education and more inclined to follow instruction.” “I am in full support of this measure to allow our 12 and 23 year olds to hunt. They will finally have the opportunity to hunt thanks to our state and Rensselaer County leaders”, said P.J. Hyde, Rensselaer County Fish and Wildlife Management Board for NYS Region 4.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin also added his support for the Local Law:
“Rensselaer County has abundant natural resources and generations of county residents have enjoyed hiking, swimming, camping and hunting. Expanding the law to allow for 12- and 13-year-olds to take part in the tradition of hunting with family and friends and under adult supervision is a good move. Many other states allow this, and New York State has also encouraged expansion of the law,” said County Executive Steve McLaughlin.
There is no deadline for counties to opt in, but the law must be adopted by June 1 to be included in the NYS DEC Hunting and Trapping Guide this fall, or by September 1 to be included on the DEC website for the fall hunting season.
The Local Law will be considered at the May 11th meeting of the Legislature.