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Local hunters get a new tool

Canandaigua, N.Y. - In most New York counties, hunters are able to use rifles for deer season. This year, Wayne and Ontario County joined the list. Regular firearms season for deer hunting opens on Saturday.

Traditional shot gun zone, you are talking about an effective range of maybe 100 yards. When you look at hunting with center fire rifles you are talking a potential effective range of 300 yards, said Lt. Matthew Lochner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

In 2005, the state began allowing for hunting rifles to be used in the following counties;  Allegany, Cattaragus, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Tioga and Schoharie. Eight other counties were added in the four years to follow.

This year, Ontario and Wayne counties were added. For hunters, it provides a new tool, but one that presents some challenges.

You see a deer at 200 yards, you have a high chance to miss and you dont have a proper backstop, like a hill there to stop the bullet, it will just keep going and you dont know where it could go, said Ethan Collins, a hunter.

Collins, who plans to hunt in the Southern Tier Saturday said he is not concerned with the rule change.

It shouldnt be much of a problem, said Collins. In those two counties, especially because theres so much space and theres not as high a concentration of hunters.

"Despite perceived safety concerns by some regarding the incidence and severity of accidents with respect to rifles, hunter accident records show that the type of firearm involved in hunting accidents is not a significant factor. Hunting accident rates in rifle areas are not greater than in shotgun only areas," said Lori Severino, a spokesperson for the NYSDEC.

But some hunters said the move makes them uncomfortable.

The concern is when youre hunting around an area where theres houses and if you dont pay attention to what youre doing and a shot travels a lot farther with the rifle than the shotgun, you could have problems, said Bruce Hargrave of Sodus Point.

The DEC recommends the following safety measures:

Treat every firearm as if it were loaded
Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction
Identify your target and what lies beyond
Keep finger off the trigger until ready to fire
Wear hunter orange 

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