New York Regular Deer Season Witnesses Huge Surge in License Sales

By FarWide November 1, 2020

Are you one among the many New Yorkers waiting to fill your deer tag this fall? If so, you’re among a record number of hunters this coming deer hunting season. According to New York State resources, the number of licenses sold on the first day was three times that of the number of licenses sold on Day 1 in 2019. There are more reports of hunting license sales topping all previous records of Day 1 sales.

Additionally, there’s a significant rise in the number of first time license holders signing up for hunter education courses in 2020. As per the Times Telegram, the numbers are almost twice that of the number of course takers in 2019. 

Do these figures point towards a new league of hunters? Or, can the surge be attributed to hunters having more time on their hands this hunting season?

deer hunting

Kelly Stang, who is a noted wildlife biologist and coordinator of hunter education courses with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY-DEC), says these anecdotal pieces of evidence point towards more people taking up hunting in 2020. He states that even in the past spring, the number of resident hunting licenses sold was far more than that in the 2019 spring season. It’s still unclear whether the rise in participants is exactly due to new hunters or because of turkey hunters having more time this spring to get to the woods. 

The Covid-19 situation has pushed the NY-DEC to conduct its hunter safety courses online. The virtual classroom sessions have done away with the field and range instructions – allowing participants to engage with the virtual firearm safety instruction course material without having to meet with an instructor one on one.  

Glen Adams, a hunter safety instructor holding certification from NY-DEC wonders who are taking these virtual classes on hunter and firearm safety. He strongly believes in the range day part of the course curriculum where students are taught the proper methods of handling their guns while crossing obstacles. Adams also remembers how course participants learn the correct ways of tracking animals as a part of the coursework. The best part lies in helping out more people as they handle their guns, cross obstacles and go after imaginary kills.

A report by the Times Telegram shows that 71,108 people had already signed up for the course by August 10th 2020. Over half completed it fully. This effectively means that across the first eight months of the ongoing year, there were more NY-based hunters (who were certified for big game hunting) than those across all of 2019. It’s equally interesting to note that Day 1 license sales for upcoming deer season notched a total of $922,444. Compared to $347,103 worth of license sales on Day 1 of the 2019 deer hunting regular season, this was a massive jump.  

According to Stang, the Pandemic has escalated interest for all types of outdoor recreation in the State. He finds that more New Yorkers are interested in procuring local food. For them, it makes sense to either start hunting or refuel their interest in hunting on familiar or new grounds.

NY Deer Hunting Season
NY Deer Hunting Season

Times Telegram reports that NY-DEC has plans of launching surveys to understand what’s motivating this surge in the sale of hunting season licenses in NY. Can the escalated sales figures be attributed to Covid-19 influenced reasons – scarcity of meat in retail stores, self-sufficiency, etc. – or something else? Whatever the reasons, the NY-DEC is expected to continue with its virtual class options moving forward.  

Russell Welser, Senior Resource Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County says, “It’s quite refreshing to see people going back to nature.” He adds,” If there is anything positive about the ongoing pandemic, it’s surely this.”

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