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June 23, 2004 -- NEW York and New Jer sey have movements afoot to improve hunting opportunities while getting more people involved in the shooting sports.
In both New York houses, the Senate and Assembly are debating companion bills that will open rifle hunting for big game in several parts of the state.

Assembly Bill 7352 will permit hunters in the central tier as well the southern and western regions to hunt deer and bear with a rifle. The counties affected by the bills include Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chenango, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Schoharie and Tioga, as well as a few rural towns in Broome County.

Its companion bill, Senate Bill 2326, was passed by the Senate Environmental Committee by a vote of 13-0 and now awaits action on the Senate floor.

New Jersey's Division of Fish and Wildlife is embarking on a bold and innovative way to get outdoors enthusiasts involved in the hunting and shooting sports. The division, along with volunteers from outdoors organizations, will be holding an introduction to hunting and shooting sports field day on Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The event will take place at the Colliers Mill Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township in Ocean County.

Seminars, instruction and a variety of archery and firearm shooting stations will be set up for those interested in learning about hunting and shooting. It is a great way for the beginner and youngsters (minimum age 10) to get a head start in these outdoor pursuits. Licensed hunters will be allowed to participate, but they must bring at least one unlicensed guest to the event.

Registration is a must and is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, go to www.njfishandwildlife.com and fill out the form.

An increasing number of states are utilizing an online hunter education course that everyone hopes will result in safer hunts and hunters.

The course, available at www.ihea.com, was developed through a partnership between the International Hunter Education Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

All states require new hunters to complete a course in safety, conservation, ethics and hunting. Generally, 16 to 18 hours are spent in weekend or evening classes before a hunter license can purchase a license. However, the online course is available any time, can be completed at a student's own pace, and is readily accessible to newcomers looking for certification as well as veteran hunters just brushing up on basics.

"By the end of this year, 25 states will have adopted the online program in some form, and by the end of 2005, we expect all 50 states will have fully evaluated it," said Chris Dolnack, NSSF's managing director of program development. "Most states will still require a one-day field class, but the bulk of the coursework can be done at home, rather than attending class during three or four consecutive weeknights, or during weekends."

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