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State gearing up for hunting season

September 6, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is gearing up for the fall hunting season by asking hunters to be on the lookout for deer diseases and help mentor youth hunters.


Early season bear

Article Photos

Wilmington-based guide and hunter Peter Price displays a big buck he shot in the northern Adirondacks.
Provided photo — Pete Price

Early bear hunting season kicks off this month, with hunters heading to the woods in the northern part of the state on Sept. 16. Early bear season runs through Oct. 13, and the DEC is encouraging hunters to look for bears where they feed.

Most bears in the state reside in the Adirondacks, with the DEC estimating that there are at least 4,000 bears here, with a few more thousand in the Catskills. There are bears in the Southern Tier and western New York, but the bulk of the population lives in or near the Blue Line.

The DEC said that late-ripening corn, along with apples and nuts should provide bears with plenty of food this fall, and hunters should look for the animals, which can weigh several hundred pounds, near where they feed. The DEC said this year has been good for mast crops such as beech and oak trees.

The DEC is also touting a new citizen science program, asking hunters, hikers and others to report information on when and where bears are seen. The project is a joint effort between the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University and DEC.

This project is open to anyone and asks the public to keep an eye out for bears, scat, fur or markings. You can then log where the signs were found so wildlife managers can better understand the range and ecology of black bears. Citizens can also upload photos of what is found.

For more information on the citizen science program, go to



Bowhunting for deer starts Sept. 20, while the regular season kicks off Oct. 21.

The DEC is encouraging deer hunters to check agricultural areas and food plots for sign of deer, but warns that studies have shown deer will avoid areas if they've dealt with hunters in a particular place on just a few occasions. The DEC also said that due to the large nut crop this year, deer may stay in a smaller area with abundant food.

As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, deer will begin putting on fat for the winter and bucks' antlers will harden for the rut.

The DEC is also asking hunters to keep an eye out for deer that may be infected by a virus that kills them very quickly.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease was first documented in New Jersey in 1955 and has since been confirmed in New York on two separate occasions, in 2007 and 2011. Although the disease has been documented throughout the Northeast, it hasn't wreaked havoc on deer populations since it tends to infect small groups of deer that are geographically isolated.

The disease is transmitted through the bits of flying gnats, also known as no-see-ums, and other midges. The DEC's EHD page says that virus typically degrades within 24 hours and there is little risk of a deer becoming infected from a carcass. The virus does not affect humans.

Although EHD is typically isolated, it kills in just a matter of days after producing symptoms such as swollen head, neck and tongue, and internal hemorrhaging and bleeding. The virus also causes a fever in the deer which often makes the animal seek out water, but not all deer show the symptoms.

If hunters see deer with any of the above symptoms, the DEC asks that the deer get reported to the local DEC wildlife office.

While humans are not in danger of contracting the virus, even if contaminated venison is consumed, domestic animals such as goats, sheep, cats and dogs may be susceptible.

For more information on EHD, go to


Youth mentoring

The DEC is also offering its annual youth hunting program during the Columbus Day holiday weekend.

During the weekend, hunters aged 14 to 15 can shoot one deer and one bear, but must have a valid hunting license. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult mentor, who is not allowed to carry a firearm during the youth hunt.

Other adults or younger kids can be with the youth hunter but are not allowed to have a firearm or participate in the hunt in any way.

For more on youth hunting, go to



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