Columbus Day weekend signifies different things to different people. It's a long holiday weekend for some, schools are closed, and many stores have big sales. But for those for whom hunting is a family tradition, Columbus Day weekend brings about the Youth Big Game Hunt throughout the state.

This year, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the Youth Big Game Hunt will also include bear and deer. Throughout the weekend, licensed fourteen and fifteen-year-olds can use a firearm to hunt big game, so long as they are accompanied by an experienced, licensed hunter.

The Youth Big Game Hunt is a great way for young people to enjoy a successful hunt while learning responsible and ethical hunting techniques. In addition, either hunter orange or hunter pink must be worn by both the junior hunters and their adult mentors so as to prevent any mistaken identity between a hunter and an animal.

Before any hunter heads out, the DEC wants to remind everyone to follow the four cardinal rules of hunting safety:  assume every gun is loaded, point your gun in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and be sure of your target and beyond.

Something else to think about not only on this weekend, but throughout the entire hunting season as well, you can help feed the hungry by making a contribution to the VEnsion Donation Program at any license-issuing outlet. By simply donating a dollar, you are helping families throughout the Hudson Valley. Learn more about this program here.

While there are additional rules and regulations for junior hunters and their mentors for this weekend, here's to keeping a family tradition alive and having a fun and safe experience.