DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said there were the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents in 2021 since record-keeping began. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers investigated nine hunting-related shooting incidents in 2021, including one fatality.
Seggos said, “I’m proud of our Hunter Education Program, and our educators and volunteer instructors, working to ensure licensed hunters experience a safe hunting season. Every hunting fatality is preventable when New Yorkers hunt safely and responsibly.”
Seven of the nine incidents that occurred in 2021 were two-party firearm incidents; two incidents were self-inflicted. All identified shooters were experienced hunters with an average of 40 years of hunting experience. Seggos said all incidents could have been prevented if those involved followed hunting safety rules.
A new hunting regulation that took effect in 2021 extended legal shooting hours for big game to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. None of the deer hunting incidents last year took place during the new extended hours.
Another new regulation change effective last year requires all persons hunting deer or bear with a firearm, or anyone accompanying these hunters, to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat, vest, or jacket, visible from all directions. The single fatality that occurred in 2021 involved a deer hunter not wearing fluorescent orange or pink. The hunter was mistaken for game and shot by a hunting partner.
Also new in 2021, 52 upstate counties passed local laws allowing 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow while under the supervision of an experienced, licensed, adult hunter. None of the nine incidents investigated in 2021 involved a 12- or 13-year-old hunter.
All first-time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must successfully complete a hunter, bowhunter, or trapper education safety course before being eligible to purchase a hunting or trapping license or bowhunting privilege in New York State.