From NYS Hunting and Trapping Newsletter received 05/24/2023
When DEC’s big game biologists began compiling the black bear harvest data from this past hunting season, they noticed something unique. Nothing about the black bears reported by hunters or checked by taxidermists seemed out of the ordinary, but there was an outlier in the distribution of the ages of successful hunters. Apparently, a 93-year-old hunter had reported harvesting a black bear. If confirmed, it would represent the oldest hunter to successfully harvest and report a black bear in New York State since DEC started tracking hunter demographic data in 1996. DEC quickly worked to contact the hunter to confirm and for the full story.
In March, DEC made contact with Korean War veteran and lifelong hunter and angler, Nelson Austin, age 93, who took a 180-lb. adult male black bear in October 2022 on his St. Lawrence County farm. It was his first bear. He submitted a tooth from the bear to DEC for age analysis and received DEC’s 2022 Black Bear Management Cooperator patch. His son, Paul, also a lifelong sportsman, took a bear in September on the family farm as well.
Successful hunters are required to report their harvest of deer, bear, and turkey within 7 days of take, and DEC requests that successful bear hunters submit a premolar tooth from any harvested bear for age analysis. This information is critical for DEC biologists to monitor bear populations, make management decisions, and evaluate the impacts of bear harvests. DEC thanks Mr. Austin for his commitment to harvest reporting and participation in DEC’s Black Bear Management Cooperator program which serves as a great example for younger generations of hunters.
Photo courtesy of P. Austin