ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's regular big game season for deer and bear starts this weekend in most of the state outside the Adirondacks.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is encouraging deer hunters to voluntarily pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks so they can grow larger. The agency also recommends using non-lead ammunition to reduce lead exposure to wildlife and families that eat venison.

The Southern Zone regular season is New York's most popular, with about 85 percent of the state's 600,000 licensed hunters participating. The season accounts for nearly 60 percent of the statewide deer harvest and 30 to 60 percent of the bear harvest.

The regular season starts Saturday and runs through Dec. 9. It's followed by a bowhunting and muzzleloading season.

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