County Leg sets public hearing May 26 to lower deer hunting age from 14 to 12

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 April 2021 at 1:44 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: These deer are pictured on Nov. 20, 2014 when they were close to the road on the west side of Route 279 in Gaines, just south of Route 104.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature voted on Wednesday to set a public hearing for 4:25 p.m. on May 26 to pass a local law allowing youths ages 12 and 13 to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow. Those youth would need to be under the supervision of an experienced adult hunter.

The state budget passed earlier this month 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. The state is doing a pilot program until 2023 with the lower age.

Mike Donahue, president of the Orleans County Sportsmen’s Federation, urged the County Legislature to allow the 12- and 13-year-old hunters with firearms or a crossbow – under supervision. Donahue, a hunting safety instructor the past 40 years, spoke during Wednesday’s Legislature meeting.

Legislator Fred Miller, D-Albion, opposed setting the hearing. 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.