All About Hunting In New York

New York, one of the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers, offers excellent hunting opportunities to avid hunters.

Approximately 700,000 New Yorkers and over 50,000 non-residents hunt in the Empire state. Besides offering the Big Apple, New York offers deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game opportunities for both resident and non-resident hunters.

The plethora of game species offered by the state is truly fascinating. 

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1. Hunting Seasons

Hunting seasons are mainly set by taking into consideration certain important factors such as breeding or nesting, age or gender distribution, economic and recreational concerns. The trick is that if the animal population is large, moderators will time it to give hunters a greater hunting advantage. However, if the animal population is dwindling, the date is set in such a way to give the animals a greater survival advantage. 

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has bifurcated the hunting season into two: Big Game Hunting Season and Small Game Hunting Season.

1.1 Big Game Hunting Season

Big-game species in New York comprise deer and black bear.

  • The general season to hunt deer in New Mexico is from September 27 to January 31.

The hunting season of black bear varies according to the weapon used to hunt and can be enumerated as follows:

  • For youth firearms, the season is from October 10 to 12.
  • Early bear hunting season is from September 12 to October 16.
  • For archers, the hunting season commences from October 14 to November 20.
  • Muzzleloading and firearms hunting season for bear is from October 17 to December 22 and from October 24 to December 13.
Legal Hunting Hours for Big Game in NYS

1.2 Small Game Hunting Season

Small game species offered by New Mexico include wild turkey, bobwhite quail, rabbit, pheasant, ruffled grouse, squirrel, and Varying Hare.

  • Bobwhite quail can be hunted from October 1 to February 28.
  • Rabbits can be hunted between October 1 and March 31.
  • The general season to hunt pheasant is from October 17 to February 28.
  • Ruffled grouse can be hunted from September 20 to February 28.
  • Squirrel hunting season commences from September 1 and ends on February 28.
  • Varying hare can be hunted from October 1 to March 21.

2. What Species to Hunt in New York?

2.1 Deer

White-tailed deer are largely found in Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt Parks in the Bronx in New York City. They are greatly valued by the residents of New York and constitute an important part of the ecosystem.

It has a reddish-brown coat in the summer which changes to a grey-brown in the winter. It can be easily identified by the white underside of its tail. They have been largely hunted for pure sport and other commodities. 

In New York, depending upon the proper licenses and tags purchased, the hunters are permitted to shoot more than one deer in a day. 

2.2 Black Bear

In New York, nearly 6000 to 8000 bears can be spotted in the open hunting areas. Black bears have broad skulls, with black claws and small and rounded ears. They are highly agile and can run at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour. They possess excellent eyesight and have the ability of visual color discrimination. 

In New York, hunting black bears with the aid of bait or dogs is not permitted. Hunters may carry and use up to 1.5 fluid ounces of a liquid scent or lure to hunt bears. 

2.3 Wild Turkey

New York has a healthy population of 180,000 turkeys. They are large birds with dark black to brown bodies and long feathers on their chest. Males make the distinctive “gobble” sound during the breeding season to attract the females. The bag limit is one bird of either sex. 

2.4 Bobwhite Quail

Bobwhite quail is a medium-sized bird, having a white throat and brow stripe bordered by black. The name has been given so because of its clear whistle “bob-White” or “bob-bob-white” call. When threatened, it relies on camouflage to stay undetected. The daily bag limit is 4.

2.5 Rabbit

Cottontail rabbits are largely found in New York. They are named so because of the white underside of its tail. It has an average lifespan of about 2 years. Their chief defense mechanism is to hear an incoming predator before they get close enough to attack. In New York, the daily bag limit is 6. 

2.6 Pheasant

Pheasants are beautifully decorated in bright colors. Males have longer tails than females. In New Mexico, the youth hunting bag limit for pheasant is two birds per day. 

2.7 Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse are medium-sized birds with short yet strong wings. The ruffs are on the sides of the necks. Rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female; rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male. Hunters may take four ruffed grouse on any day. 

2.8 Squirrel

Squirrels are small animals with a poorly developed thumb. They have the ability to live in almost every habitat. They can be hunted at any time without limit. 

2.9 Varying Hare

Varying hare is a large-footed hare and turns their skin coat into white in winter. In New York, the bag limit is 6 per day. 

Bowhunting Preseason Checklist: Broadheads, Practice, Hunting License, Find a Place to Hunt

3. Where to Hunt in New York?

3.1 Public Hunting Lands

Public hunting lands in New York incorporate Wildlife Management Areas, State Forests, Forest Preserve, and State Parks that are open for hunting during the hunting seasons. 

The state forests contribute to the addition of the public hunting lands in New York. Besides providing opportunities for recreation and entertainment, the state forests boost the ecosystem.

Approximately, 12 million acres of publicly accessible land is owned by New York. The following list gives a brief account of the plenty of hunting opportunities in the public hunting grounds.

  • Ninham Mountain State Forest, of 1023 acres, is a renowned location frequented by hunters who wish to pursue deer and turkey.
  • Beebe Hill and Harvey Mountain State Forests, of 3000 acres, bestow multiple hunting opportunities of deer, turkey, and a variety of small game species. 
  • Moose River Plains Wild Forest, of 50 thousand acres, provides wonderful deer, turkey, and small game hunting. Apart from that, this public hunting area also offers trout fishing. 
  • Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest of 13,500 acres of land, is the best place for hunters aspiring to pursue deer, turkey, and bear.
  • Fort Niagara State Park has a special feature of having access to Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario, thus, is undoubtedly a good fishing site offering walleye, smallmouth bass, and steelhead fishing. 

3.2 Private Hunting Lands

In New York, almost 85% of the state is privately-owned. Hunters are allowed to hunt on private lands, with sole permission from the landowner during the hunting seasons.

The hunters need to keep in mind that power lines and railroads that cross the private property can not be considered as public lands and therefore trespassing is illegal in these areas. 

Also, plants, trees, or any other kind of greenery present on private lands are private property. Therefore, hunters possess no rights to cut them.

4. License Requirements

You must not think of hunting without a license, that means, you must have hunting licenses to hunt any sort of species in New York. Persons who are under 12 years old are not permitted to hunt at all.

However, you must have a hunting license if you are 12 years and older and also if you are willing to discharge a firearm or bow to take animals in New York. 

How To Get Your Hunting / Bow Hunting License In NY

4.1 Types of Hunting Licenses

4.1.1 New York Resident

There are certain conditions to be fulfilled to enjoy the privileges of a New York resident. Firstly, you must have lived in the state for nearly 30 days or more than that.

Moreover, students (non-residents) who are staying for educational purposes in New York and active-duty military members who are serving the nation are also given the honor of being called as residents.

A resident may also require certain other permits or tags to pursue other game animals.

4.1.2 Non-Resident

In New York, non-residents of 12 years or older must have a valid hunting license. 

4.1.3 Youth Hunting License

In simple words, New York does not allow youth under the age of 12 to obtain a hunting license. However, they may apply for a reduced-fee hunting license and can do so only when their age falls in the range of 12 to 15 years.  

4.1.4 Senior Hunting License

Reduced-fee hunting licenses are available to residents of New York who are 70 years of age or older.

4.1.5 Disability License

Residents and non-residents having physical disabilities can apply for disability permits. 

4.1.6 Military and Veteran License

New York honors the military members who are posted in New York for at least 30 days. New York residents who are military members but have posted elsewhere are also eligible for a free hunting license while they are on leave for less than 30 days. 

Besides, reduced-fee licenses can be availed by resident veterans who have 40% or more service-connected disabilities. 

4.2 License Expiration

Hunting licenses are valid in New York from September 1 to August 31 of the next year. To purchase a lifetime hunting license, you must be a resident of New York. 

New York Hunting Licenses

5. Rules and Regulations

5.1 Distance Regulations

In New York, it is punishable by law if any hunter discharges a firearm or crossbow within 150 feet of an occupied building, without the consent of the owner. 

5.2 Legal Hunting Hours

The legal hunting hour in New York is from 30 minutes before the sunrise to 30 minutes after the sunset. 

5.3 Hunter Orange Requirement

The New York law urges upon hunters to wear fluorescent hunter orange visible from all directions. The hunter orange may consist of a shirt, jacket, or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned fluorescent orange or pink color. 

5.4 Bag Limit

Depending on the size of the game animal, the tag permits or bag limit may vary. If the game animal is small, the bag limit is more and vice-versa. 

5.5 Can You Hunt at Night?

Furbearers are allowed to be taken at night in New York, but the hunter must be careful that he is not using any motor vehicle at night to hunt.

However, if you are hunting without the aid of light, the use of ‘starlight’ is allowed on the firearm.

Basic Rules of Hunter Safety

6. Hunter Education Course

The Hunter Education Program is mandatory for all the hunters to purchase a valid hunting license in New York. This course trains the young and naïve hunters and converts them into hunters who strive towards safety and try to be responsible and ethical.

After completion of the course, the students are awarded a certificate of completion, so that they can buy a first-time hunting license. 

6.1 In-person Classes

All the instructors of in-person classes DEC-certified and the courses are taught free of cost. New courses are added throughout the year and most of the courses are taught between March and September. 

6.2 Online Classes

Online courses are welcome to freshers and also to anyone interested in hunting. However, a fee is charged for online hunter education classes. 

7. Bowhunting

To go for bowhunting in New York, hunters are required to take the New York Bowhunter Education Course to use a bow or arrow to hunt deer and bear. In-person courses are available for bowhunters. 

7.1 Bow and Arrow Requirements

There is no separately proclaimed requirement for bow and arrow, except that a bow with a draw weight of 35 pounds or less is not legal. 

8. Game Calls

Game calls refer to the signals emitted by the hunters to lure the animals to the trap. There are two kinds of game call: hand-held and electronic. Hand-held game calls are carried out with the aid of wood or plastic, and are cheap. Also, these are considered to be legal.

Electronic game calls are not always considered legal. Recorded or amplified sounds can not be used to hunt any game animal except, coyotes and raccoons. 


The urbanized state of skyscrapers and modernization nourishes within its heart the diverse wildlife, that is enough to leave hunters awestruck! You must follow the hunting norms and regulations to ensure a safe hunt.

For further details, please visit the New York Department of Environmental Conservation website:


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