Southold Town will try something new with its deer management program this fall.
The fall bow hunting season, now in its fourth year, begins in October and continues through the end of the year. For the first time, the town will offer a series of hunter safety courses taught by representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The first class, which covers bow hunting safety, will be held this Sunday, Sept. 11, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Peconic Recreation Center. The second two-session class will cover general hunter safety on Sept. 17 and 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Human Resource Center on Pacific Street in Mattituck.
“We want to encourage more kids and adults to participate in hunting,” said town public works department deputy director Jeff Standish, who coordinates the deer hunting program. “To me it seems like it’s dying out. Kids are more into video games.”
Mr. Standish said the DEC has also changed its regulations this year to allow kids as young as 12 years old to hunt with their parents. Also, the minimum age at which they will be allowed to hunt on their own has been raised from 14 to 16.
To register for the classes, call Nancy at the public works department at 765-1283. The courses includes a safety manual that can be picked up ahead of time from the DPW office at Town Hall.
The bow hunting class is for residents who have already taken the hunter safety course and want to have a bow hunting endorsement on their hunting license. Mr. Standish said it’s being offered first to allow hunters who take the course to participate in a lottery for one of the 75 permits available for the bow hunting season.
Applications for the lottery to become a registered hunter with the town are available now and must be submitted to the town clerk’s office by 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15. Southold residents must also present a copies of their state hunting and driver’s licenses. The lottery will be held on Sept. 16 and hunters selected will be notified by phone or email. In an effort to reduce the breeding deer population, participating hunters must take two does before taking a buck. Hunters selected through the lottery will each be given two tags for the does.
This year, also for the first time, town employees will record the does taken so hunters do not have to drive to the DEC checkpoint in Ridge to register their kills. And for the second year, the town plans to have a refrigerator box in place where hunters can donate their deer to food pantries throughout Long Island. The town does not yet have plans for a butcher station, although Mr. Standish said that is one of the program’s goals.
“We have plenty of tags for hunters,” said Mr. Standish. “A lot of things are moving forward. We gave the hunters everything they’ve been asking for. The program is still moving forward and we’re trying to make it even better.”