Getting ready for hunting season

Columnist Dan Ladd hopes his trail camera data will help him track the movements of the local deer herd in time for the early archery season, which opens on September 27.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that sporting licenses (hunting and trapping) are now on sale for the 2019-20 seasons.

The sporting license calendar year is September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020.

There’s always a touch of excitement in the air this time of year for the upcoming hunting seasons.

Those of us who hunt, and especially live in the North Country, are fortunate to have some seasons begin rather early.

That includes small game seasons such as squirrel which opens on September 1, and the early bear season in the Adirondacks begins September 14. But most hunters have whitetails on their minds.


Therefore, now is the time to be at the gun range sighting in those deer rifles, rather than the weeks or even days prior to opening day.

It’s also a good time to go through your gear and make sure you have everything you need. I do this throughout the year and compile a list for my pre-hunting season shopping trip.

These days, trail cameras are all the rage and I am just about to set a few out. It’s going to be a little tricky for me this year, at least in one of my hunting areas, as a recent logging operation has likely changed some of the travel patterns of the local deer herd.

I’m hoping the trail camera data will help me figure things out in time for the early archery season, which opens on September 27.



Another pre-season ritual for me is to try to get my body ready for hunting season.

I do about 80 percent of my regular season deer hunting with a group and we make deer drives. On a typical day, we hike anywhere from four to six miles with a lot of ups and downs along the way.

Just like sighting in a deer rifle, the older I get the more I have to make sure I’m physically ready for deer season.

This year, that same logging operation has yielded me several chord of firewood and also required me to be in the woods clearing roads and trails and just doing a lot of cleanup.

So I’ve been getting some exercise I normally wouldn’t this time of year.

However, I still need to put my hiking shoes on and therefore have enjoyed climbing a few mountains this summer, with more to come.

And speaking of firewood, and other household chores for that matter, now is the time to take care of those as well. Then, you can clear you calendar for hunting season.

My woodshed is full and my “to-do” list is shrinking. As the days get shorter, and hopefully cooler, I’m spending more time preparing for hunting season. I hope you can do the same. If it’s important to you, you will.



When DEC annually announces the availability of sporting licenses they plug a few other programs worth mentioning.

One is the Venison Donation Coalition (VDC), a non-profit group that collects venison donated by hunters, has it processed and donates it to the needy.

Many of the deer donated come from Southern Zone hunters and places where deer populations are very high. But there is an expense involved in processing the deer.

Hunters, or anyone else for that matter, can make a donation to the VDC when purchasing their sporting licenses, including online.

You can also purchase a Habitat/Access stamp for $5, which goes directly into the state’s Conservation Fund for hunting and fishing purposes.

Unfortunately, many license issuing agents fail to mention programs like the Venison Donation Coalition and the Habitat/Access stamp.

They could use a lesson in an old retail trick called “suggestive selling.”

But these are programs that allow hunters to help others, as well as themselves.

Lastly, if you are a hunter who happens to spend some time in the Southern Zone, you can now also apply for your Deer Management (doe) permits.

I know a lot of folks who don’t want to see summer end. But if you’re a hunter, then the fall seasons can’t come soon enough. Especially if we’re prepared.

Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at

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