Albany, NY (WKBW) The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has finalized its rules allowing crossbow hunting beginning in the fall 2014 hunting seasons.
Crossbow hunting will be legal for both big game and small game under certain conditions, but will remain illegal in Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau counties.
Crossbow hunters must be at least 14 years old, and must carry a license. Anyone carrying a crossbow must complete the Standard Hunter Education course or complete an online training program approved by the DEC. Crossbow hunters must have proof of certification in either course in their possession while hunting.
Crossbows must be uncocked when transported in a motor vehicle.
With permission from the landowner, crossbows can be fired within 250 feet of a home, school or playground, church, or occupied structure.
The following rules for big game and small game hunting are provided by the DEC:
Crossbows may not be used to take deer or bear in WMU 4J in Albany County, WMU 8C in Monroe County, or any part of Suffolk, Nassau or Westchester counties.
For licensing, the new law treats crossbows as a “muzzleloader.” Hunters must possess a muzzleloader hunting privilege to legally hunt with a crossbow during any muzzleloader season OR during open portions of the early bowhunting seasons. The muzzleloader license privilege is not required when hunting with a crossbow during the early bear season or the regular firearms seasons.
Crossbows may be used to take bear during the early bear season, early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone, regular firearms seasons in the Northern and Southern Zones, and the late muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone.
Crossbows may be used to take deer during:
- early and late muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone and late muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone using Bow/Muzzleloader tags, deer management permits (DMPs), deer management assistance permit tags (DMAPs), or an unfilled Regular Big Game tag (late season only);
- regular firearms seasons using a Regular Big Game tag, DMPs, or DMAP tags.
Crossbows may also be used to take deer or bear during limited portions of bowhunting seasons as follows, provided that the hunter possesses the muzzleloading privilege:
- During the last 14 days of the early bowhunting season in the Southern Zone (i.e., November 1 - November 14, 2014);
- During the last 10 days of the early bowhunting season in the Northern Zone (i.e., October 15 - October 24, 2014; this includes the 7-day early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone);
- Only Bow/Muzzloader tags, DMPs or DMAPs may be used during these times.
Junior big game hunters (age 14-15) may not use a crossbow to take a deer during the Youth Deer Hunt weekend (October 11 - 13, 2014). Adult mentors who accompany a junior big game hunter on the Youth Deer Hunt weekend may not possess a crossbow or firearm while afield on those days.
Wild turkey - crossbows may be used to hunt wild turkey in either the fall or spring.
Crossbows may not be used to take waterfowl or other migratory game birds.
Crossbows may not be possessed afield in the Northern Zone when hunting small game (except coyotes) with the aid of a dog or when accompanied by a dog.
Crossbows may be used to take any other small game or upland game birds during their respective open seasons, or to take unprotected wildlife (e.g., red squirrels and woodchucks) at any time.
For more information on new crossbow hunting rules in New York State go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/68802.html.