Action Alert: New York Crossbow Legislation and Hunting Age Initiative

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently released New York State’s 2021 State of the State Book, which outlines policy and funding priorities for the coming year. Among those proposals is an effort to expand outdoor recreation programming to promote COVID-19 safe recreation. Last year, participation in hunter safety training courses increased by 175% in New York, and the state is now looking to expand hunting opportunities in 2021.

To do this, the Governor’s office recommends expanding crossbow use into the regular archery season, and allowing junior hunters ages 12-13 to hunt big game with a rifle or shotgun when under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or mentor. The New York Senate has already introduced Senate Bill 1721 (S 1721) to address the use of crossbows. Specifically, S 1721 authorizes the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to adopt regulations which authorize the taking of wildlife by the use of crossbow, including during the full archery season. Additionally, the use of crossbows for all hunting seasons is supported in the 2012-2016  Deer Management Plan and is a recommendation in the Draft 2021-2025 Deer Management Plan that was released in December. The National Deer Association (NDA) supports the inclusion of crossbows as a legal method of take for deer and other species within appropriate seasons, wherever practical and possible, and we especially support the use of crossbows if their use positively impacts a deer management program and helps recruit and retain more hunters.

The 2021 State of State also recommends allowing junior hunters ages 12-13 to hunt big game with a rifle or shotgun when under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or mentor. Currently, hunters must be at least 14 years old to hunt deer and bear with a firearm. NDA and our members greatly support establishing a universal hunting age of 12 in New York. Most states allow hunters at least 12 years of age to hunt big game with the supervision of a parent, guardian, or mentor. Engaging youth in big game hunting at a young age and with appropriate supervision goes a long way in developing life-long hunters and conservationists. Further, there is no data to suggest that doing so is unsafe.

Join NDA in supporting the expansion of the use of crossbows to the full archery season and establishing a universal hunting age of 12 in New York. Expanding the use of crossbows should provide a positive impact to New York’s deer management program and help recruit and retain more hunters. Allowing junior hunters age 12 and up to hunt big game when under appropriate supervision will go a long way in developing life-long hunters and conservationists.

CLICK HERE to encourage your Senators and Assemblymen and women to support the expanded crossbow provisions found in S 1712 or similar crossbow initiatives and to introduce, co-sponsor and/or generally support legislation or initiatives that follow the 2021 State of State recommendation to allow junior hunters ages 12 and up to hunt big game.


About Torin Miller

Torin Miller is a licensed attorney and NDA’s Director of Policy. He works at the intersection of conservation and natural resources law, policy, advocacy and education. He has a bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Penn State University, a J.D. from Penn State Law and is finishing a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science at Penn State. Torin came to NDA via the National Deer Alliance, where he served as the Policy and Outreach Coordinator.