Children in Erie County will have to find another place to bag a buck this season. Executive Mark Poloncarz vetoed a law allowing 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt with an experienced hunter.

"There have been many unfortunate firearm accidents across the state and country, especially those involving youth hunters," Poloncarz wrote in a veto letter to the County Legislature.

Not everyone agrees. "In 49 states, and in 56 upstate counties, this is not an issue," said Jeff Jondle, president of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. "We were just joining the rest of the country, and now we’re not."

The New York State Legislature adopted a temporary program that will run through 2023, allowing 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt with a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, or crossbow in counties that choose to participate. Westchester and Suffolk counties were excluded from the program.

Credit - NYSDEC
Credit - NYSDEC

Erie County will not be included in the program even though legislators voted 6-4 last month to opt-in, according to the Buffalo News.

Provisions of the new Junior Big Game Hunting law includes:

  • Allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloading firearm
  • Allows 12- and 13-year-old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a crossbow
  • Requires supervision of a licensed adult hunter (aged 21 years or older) with at least 3 years of experience hunting deer who maintains physical control over the youth hunter at all times
  • Requires the youth hunter and adult mentor to wear fluorescent orange or pink clothing and to remain at ground level while hunting deer with a crossbow, rifle, shotgun, or muzzleloader
  • Does not authorize black bear hunting by 12- and 13-year-olds with a firearm or crossbow

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