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DEC Announces Start of Small Game Hunting Seasons

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that several small game hunting seasons open Oct. 1 in addition to several special youth-only hunting seasons for pheasants and waterfowl prior to the start of the regular season.

“Small game hunting plays a critical role in introducing new people to the tradition of hunting in New York State,” Commissioner Seggos said. “In addition, our youth-only hunting seasons connect young people to the natural world and help them to become safe and responsible hunters. I encourage experienced hunters across New York to bring a novice hunter afield this fall.”

Season dates, bag limits and other hunting regulations for New York’s suite of small game species can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide (PDF, 19.98 MB), which can be obtained from a license issuing agent. An interactive online version is available through the DEC website.

Waterfowl Hunting and Youth Waterfowl Days

Hunting seasons for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and brant) begin in early October in many parts of the state. In addition, there are special opportunities for junior hunters 12 to15 years old prior to the regular season. Junior hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter, and both the junior hunter and adult must be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Adult hunters must also have a federal migratory bird stamp. This fall’s youth waterfowl days are:

Sept. 22 and 23 in the Northeast and Southeast zones
Sept. 29 and 30 in the Lake Champlain Zone
Oct. 13 and 14 in the Western Zone
Nov. 10 and 11 in the Long Island Zone

Ruffed Grouse Hunting

Ruffed grouse hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through the last day of February in most areas of the state. In northern New York, the season opens on Sept. 20 and runs through the last day of February. In New York City and Long Island, the season is closed.

Ruffed grouse hunters in the Northern Zone are reminded to positively identify quarry before shooting. The Northern Zone, specifically Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J, is also home to the spruce grouse. The spruce grouse is a state-endangered species and is not legal to hunt. Loss of a spruce grouse, particularly a female spruce grouse, could be a significant setback for a small local population.

Spruce grouse exist in lowland conifer forests in the Adirondacks. Although ruffed grouse occur in upland hardwoods statewide, during the fall and winter ruffed grouse may be found in spruce grouse habitat. Small game hunters in the Adirondack region must be able to distinguish between these species so that spruce grouse are not shot by mistake. For tips on how to discern the two species, view the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or the Ruffled Grouse Hunting Information page.

DEC is looking for ruffed grouse hunters to submit feathers from harvested birds in order to assess recruitment (number of young produced per adult female grouse) for different parts of the state. Interested hunters should visit the “Ruffed Grouse Hunting Information” link above.

Pheasant Hunting

Approximately 30,000 adult pheasants will be released on lands open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season. The pheasant hunting season begins:

Oct. 1 in northern and eastern portions of New York
Oct. 20 in central and western portions of the state
Nov. 1 on Long Island

Since 2007, DEC has offered a special youth-only season to provide junior hunters the opportunity to hunt pheasants during the weekend prior to the regular pheasant hunting season. In western New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is Oct. 13 and 14. In northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is Sept. 29 and 30, and on Long Island, it is Oct. 27 and 28. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter is allowed to carry a firearm and harvest birds on these dates.

All release sites for pheasants provided by state-funded programs are open to public hunting. Pheasants will be released on state-owned lands prior to and during the fall hunting season and at a number of sites on New York City Watershed lands thanks to a partnership with New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Pheasant hunting opportunities have also been augmented by private landowners that have opened their land to public hunting. DEC is grateful for their help in providing high quality hunting experiences for New York’s hunters. View a list of statewide pheasant release sites and sites receiving birds for the youth-only pheasant hunt weekends.

Deer Management Permit Deadline is Oct. 1

DEC reminds hunters that the deadline to apply for deer management permits (DMPs) is fast approaching, and hunters must apply for DMPs by Oct. 1. Hunters should review their chances of selection before applying. The application fee for deer management permits is $10. The fee is waived for junior hunters and Lifetime License holders who purchased a Lifetime (Sportsman) License prior to October 1, 2009.

DMPs are DEC’s most effective wildlife management tool and recreational deer hunting provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy a day afield and provide sustainably harvested food for New York families. Hunters that have purchased a hunting license are eligible to apply for up to two DMPs that may be used to harvest antlerless deer from a specified Wildlife Management Unit. Antlerless deer harvest is crucial in helping to balance the deer herd with available habitat.

Sporting licenses and permits for the 2018-19 license year can be obtained at any one of DEC’s 1,300 license issuing outlets, by phone at 866-933-2257, or online through our DECALS website.

DEC encourages hunters to use the new e-license and game harvest reporting tool called HuntFishNY. Through this mobile app, hunters, anglers and trappers can access an electronic version of their licenses and privileges, and report the harvest of deer, bear and turkey immediately while afield on their mobile device. Hunters can download this exciting new feature from the DEC’s official mobile app, NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife by Pocket Ranger, which is available from either the Apple App or Google Play stores.

Citizen Science

“Citizen science” efforts such as the Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log, Ruffed Grouse Parts Collection, and the Bow Hunter Sighting Log provide hunters with the opportunity to partner with DEC to monitor game species. To learn more about how to participate in these efforts, visit the Citizen Science: Wildlife Observation Data Collection page.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety

While statistics show that hunting in New York is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and Commissioner Seggos is encouraging hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they were taught in their DEC Hunters Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

Point your gun in a safe direction.
Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
Be sure of your target and beyond.
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

DEC also encourages hunters to wear blaze orange or pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal, or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters who wear hunter orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

When hunting in tree stands, use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded rifle and never set a tree stand above 20 feet.

For more information on these and other important hunting safety tips, please learn more about Hunter Safety Basics and watch a video about hunter safety (leaves DEC website) and tree stand safety (leaves DEC website) for more tips on avoiding accidents.