The wallets of sportsmen across New York state will get a little lighter this fall.

The wallets of sportsmen and sportswomen across New York state will get a little lighter this fall.


The sweeping increases in sporting license fees approved by the state Legislature have gone into effect for all purchases of 2009-10 licenses, which are valid from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010.


In the seemingly never-ending battle to tip the scales of the state budget back in the direction of fiscal feasibility, sportsmen are now being required to shoulder an increased share of the load. Nearly every type of 2009-10 sporting license offered by the DEC has seen a price jump — some of them drastically so.


A Super Sportsman license, for example, now runs $88 after costing $68 last year.  A number of licenses increased by $10, including the regular Sportsman ($37 to $47), Small and Big Game ($19 to $29), Fishing ($19 to $29), and Small Game ($16 to $26).


Out-of-staters who come to New York this year will find an even higher jump in price. Nonresident Super Sportsmen, Big Game, Bowhunting, Muzzleloading, Small Game and Fishing licenses all increased by a $30 margin.


“(The price increases) are too high,” said Roxann Waight, of R & B Guns in Almond. “They went way overboard.”


Waight added that she feels as though the more expensive price tags will make people less likely to purchase licenses. She said she has seen a sizable decline in sporting license sales compared to the typical numbers at this point of the calendar in past years.


Even so, Waight has noticed an uptick in the popularity of one type of license — Lifetime Licenses.


“I have sold a lot of Lifetime Licenses,” she said.


All Lifetime Licenses are locked in at the previous fee level and age requirements through Sept. 30. The potential savings are nothing to sneeze at. For residents, an Adult (ages 12-64) Sportsman Lifetime License costs $600 until the Sept. 30 cut-off date, after which the fee moves to $765. Other Lifetime Licenses will experience similar increases when Oct. 1 rolls around.


In addition, the minimum age required to be eligible for a Senior license will move up from 65 to 70, meaning citizens approaching the former magic number of 65, who were looking forward to saving money with the much cheaper Senior licenses, will have the proverbial rug pulled from under their feet.


Canisteo resident Jim Yahnite is one such individual.


Yahnite is 64. He won’t turn 65 until after Sept. 30.?The new age requirement resulted in him missing out on over $500 in savings. Yahnite was forced to salvage what money he could. He purchased the $600 Adult Sportsman Lifetime License, rather than wait until after Sept. 30 when the price increases by $165.


“The key thing is to notify everybody who is (between 65 and 69) to go downtown and get their (senior lifetime) hunting license for $50, because that is going to expire,” said Yahnite, a retired school teacher. “I’ve talked to a lot of guys in my age group and they’re just not aware of what’s going on.”


Yahnite learned of the price hikes after perusing the DEC’s current Hunting and Trapping Guide.


“I’ve talked to a lot people who say I’ve had it with New York State, and who say that if I’m doing anymore hunting it will be without a license. I’ve heard people say that, but I think it’s idle talk,” Yahnite said. “There’s such a significant difference between the prices right now and what’s coming up Oct. 1. The guy with unlimited income will just go down there no problem, but it will really effect the other guys, guys like me who are retired and on fixed incomes.”


Around 1.5 million sporting licenses are typically sold in New York State each year. Yahnite wouldn’t be surprised if there will be at least that many grumbles when it comes time to purchase licenses for the upcoming season.


Still, despite the inconvenience of the higher price tag, Yahnite wasn’t about to give up one of his favorite hobbies.


“Any time you change something there’s going to be people in shock,” Yahnite said. “But I knew I wasn’t going to give up hunting and fishing, no matter what it costs.”


The Evening Tribune