Outdoor Journal: DEC alters regulations; crossbow users in limbo

Big game season is almost here, and there have been a few changes in New York state regul­ations, so

Big game season is almost here, and there have been a few changes in New York state regul­ations, some of which I consider major.

The first is what is called “more bowhunting opportunity.” This new regulation states that the bow season in the Southern Zone and the regular season in Westchester County — which is bowhunting only — will begin Oct. 1 each year, rather than Oct. 15.

In the Northern Zone, a new seven-day bowhunting season has been added after the close of the regular season. As a bowhunter, I should be happy with the added days, but I’m not because as an aging bowhunter who used to shoot a bow with a 70-pound draw weight that’s now down to 45, I thought that somewhere in the additional days of bowhunting, the state could have given a week or so to crossbow hunters. And believe me, I’m not alone.

Last year, we were only allowed to use a crossbow during the early bear season, regular firearms seasons, late muzzleloading seasons, and the special firearms season in Suffolk County for the 2011 and 2012 big game hunting seasons. That makes a lot of sense, crossbows competing with rifles and slug guns.

Actually, this regulation at the time the “New York Hunting & Trapping 2012-13 Official Guide to Laws & Regulations” was released, was “pending,” assuming the state legislature would auth­orize limited use of crossbows for big game hunting beyond Dec. 31, 2012. So currently, those of us who’ve invested in crossbows really don’t know if we’ll be able to use them in the state next year.

You’ll also note in “Highlights of Changes for 2012-2013” that the New York State Department of Env­ironmental Conservation proposed a Columbus Day weekend “Youth Firearms Deer Hunt” in both Northern and Southern Zones which remains tentative. DEC believed this would be a valuable tool for improving recruitment and retention of new hunters.

However, the most opposition and pressure against this came in a form letter, signed primarily by members of the New York Bowhunters. They do not want to give up three days of their season. One of their reasons I found was that “the youth hunt will affect the bowhunting by altering deer behavior patterns and unscrupulous adults will illegally take deer during the youth season.”

Wow! One thing that really bothers me is that I always thought that hunters, regardless of what they hunt with responsibility and with good sportsmanship, were all a part of a very big and close-knit frat­ernity. Obviously, there’s a small group dictating to all the rest of us not to tread on “their” bowhunting woods, and that includes not letting our youth hunters share these woods with them for just three days. What fuel this must be for those anti-hunting groups.

One other change that needs clarification is the regulation referring to “allowing Deer Management Permits (DMPs, “doe tags”) to be used in all seasons in the Northern Zone.” This means that hunters who obtain DMPs for a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in the Northern Zone may use the tag during any open deer season in that WMU only. The only WMUs with DMPs available this year are 6C, 6G, 6H, 6K and 6R.

You can find a few other changes for this year on page 10 of this year’s guide, and as always, I suggest you read this year’s new DEC’s regul­ation booklet cover to cover, and be sure you read the article on “Hunting from a Tree.”


Here are a few new items that were introduced this year for the bowhunters that I thought you might like to help you get a trophy buck this fall. The first one literally popped up at the SHOT Show last January — a ground blind made for bowhunters.

I have shot a bow out of a blind on several occasions, and, honestly, it can be difficult. Generally, you’re sitting down and have to be careful of the limbs, etc., but the Ameristep Switch Ground Blind allows the height to be adjusted from 60 to 88 inches. Its inside width is 59 inches. Height adjustment is all done with the push-button legs that adjust for uneven ground. Anyone who is going to sit in a blind, sometimes all day, will find both these features will add not only to success, but also comfort. I know I’ll be able to draw my PSE compound or my crossbow standing up inside this blind.

Other features include an easy three-step setup and take down, stakes and high wind tie-downs, a 10 x 46 inch backpack carrying case and a total blind weight of about 25 pounds. It’s constructed of “No Mosquito NS3” fabric with carbon-enhanced shadowguard and is offered in Realtree APG, MAX-1 or 4. I’ve seen it retail locally for $300 (www.ameristep.com).


There are plenty of new compound bows, but I think the PSE Brute X is a good, reasonably priced choice. It’s offered in 50-, 60- and 70-pound draw weights, variable draw lengths from 25-30 inches, a let-off of 75 percent, length of 31 inches (axle-to-axle) and weight of 4.70 pounds. Other features include preloaded split limbs, newly machined riser, pivoting limb pocket system, multiple sight-mounting holes with a Raptor grip, and it’s offered in Mossy Oak-Break Up Infinity Camo, black camo or skull works.

Locally, these bows are selling for $400-500 if you get the package which includes a Gemini sight, QS Whisker Biscuit, Flexxtech stabilizer, Mongoose quiver, PSE neoprene sling, peep sight, nock loop, Tru-Fire Hurricane release, Supreme bowcase and a four pack of Carbon Force Hunter arrows (www.pse-archery.com).


All bowhunters will agree one of the most crucial things in bowhunting is judging the distance to the game, and when you’re shooting from a 15- to 20-foot tree stand at a deer standing 25-35 yards from the base of your tree, there’s a difference in the distance. I’ve noticed from all the bowhunting Buck Tales I receive, most of the bowhunters give me exact yardages, which means they’re using rangefinders, and so should you.

The best I’ve seen is the Bushnell Bowhunter laser Chuck Adams Ed­ition with the Angle Range Compensator (ARC). It has a four-power, line-of-sight range of five to 850 yards to the target. And most importantly, it has a built-in inclin­ometer that allows ARC to display true horizontal range to that eight-pointer from five to 99 yards.

It comes with a battery-life indicator, carrying case, battery and neck strap. I’ve seen these locally for $200 and on the Internet for $150 (www.bushnell.com).


This one really caught my eye because I can remember a number of times when I needed to stand perfectly still waiting for an opportunity to take another arrow out of my quiver to get another shot at a deer I had just missed. But this new Double Barrel Arrow Loader puts the next shot right where you can get at it with the least amount of movement because it’s right there above your nocking point and arrow rest, and pointed in the right direction.

There are no moving parts, and the shooter is in control of moving the arrow from the Double Barrel Arrow Loader to the arrow rest. It attaches easily to your bow, is lightweight, designed for right- and left-handers and sells for $50 (www.doublebarrelarrowloader.com).


Full camouflage is a must for the stealth of a bowhunter, and with the weather changes fall can bring, the quietness and warm comfort of Bass Pro Shops’ new Tracker Wind Pro fleece jacket and pants make for the perfect outfit. Made with bonded, laminated fleece, it’s soft, quiet, completely windproof and can be used by itself or with layers in really cold conditions. The jacket has two sides, one chest and one zippered interior pocket, and an adjustable bungee hem cord.

The RedHead Tracker wear comes in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity and Realtee AP. Both the jacket and the pants sell for $65-$75 and come in medium, large and 2XL (www.basspro.com).


Open-on-impact or mechanical broadheads are not new, but Rage’s new Chisel Tip with its proven rear-deploying SlipCam now has a devastating bone-piercing chisel tip. Once the hardened chisel tip pierces the hide of the game animal, the razor sharp steel blades deploy to cut a path that will end your hunt quickly and successfully.

The new chisel tip is available in three versions. A two-blade with a two-inch cutting diameter in both 100- and 125-grain weights, and the three-blade with a 1.5-inch cutting diameter. Suggested retail price for the new Chisel Tip is $45. Watch a video at www.ragebroadheads.com.

Good hunting and don’t forget Buck Tales.

Categories: -Sports-

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