County approves lowering deer hunting age from 14 to 12 in pilot program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2021 at 6:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mike Donahue, president of the Orleans County Sportsmen’s Federation, urges the County Legislature to pass the local law, lowering the deer hunting age from 14 to 12.

ALBION – Orleans County legislators approved a pilot program lowering the age from 14 to 12 for people to hunt deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun or muzzle-loading firearm.

The state is allowing counties to opt in in the pilot program until 2023 with the lower age.

The youth hunters will need to be under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter. The state budget passed in early April gave upstate counties the right to opt-in and allow the 12- and 13-year-old hunters.

Youths those ages already are allowed to hunt deer and bear with archery equipment and small game with firearms. Until now, New York was the only state that didn’t allow 12- and 13-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm.

Mike Donahue, president of the Orleans County Sportsmen’s Federation, spoke at a public hearing today and said youths have shown they are responsible hunters. He urges them all to take hunter safety courses. He noted the law requires a responsible adult to be with the young hunters, who also must wear either bright orange or pink above the waist when they are out hunting.

County Legislator John DeFillipps, right, introduced the resolution to lower the deer hunting age. Fred Miller, back left, cast the lone vote in opposition.

Orleans County Legislator Fred Miller cast the lone opposing vote among the seven-member Legislature. Miller’s district includes the towns of Albion and Gaines, which he said are populated areas on flat land. He is concerned about people hunting with rifles so close to the village and residences.

“I’m not opposed to the pilot program,” Miller said. “I would have liked it when I hunted as a kid.”

But Miller said many residents in his district of Albion and Gaines have shared their concerns about rifle hunting in populated areas.