The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that most small game hunting seasons begin on Friday, October 1 throughout New York State.
Season dates, bag limits, and other hunting regulations for New York’s small game species are available in the Guide to Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which can be obtained from a licensing agent or on the website of DEC.
Waterfowl Hunting and Special Youth and Military Days
New York offers ample waterfowl hunting opportunities, as hunters can catch more than 30 species of waterfowl. New York has five waterfowl zones and nine Canada goose zones that help maximize hunting opportunities in diverse habitats. Most waterfowl areas also have special hunting days for youth and members of the military (both active duty and veterans) that often begin before the regular hunting season, giving these hunters the opportunity to to hunt with less competition and hunting pressure.
Waterfowl Youth Days:
- Southeast Areas and Lake Champlain: September 25 and 26
- West Zone: October 2 and 3
- Long Island area: November 6 and 7
Hunting days for military and veterans:
- Southeast Zone: 9-10 Oct.
- West Zone: November 11 (Veterans Day) and 13
- Long Island area: November 13 and 14
- There are no special military/veteran days in the Lake Champlain area.
Opening dates for regular duck seasons:
- Northeast Zone: October 2
- Lake Champlain area: October 13
- West and Southeast Zones: October 16
- Long Island area: November 20
For more information on waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits, visit the Waterfowl Seasons page on the DEC website.
Ruffed Grouse Hunting
The ruffed grouse hunting season runs from October 1 to the last day of February in most of the state. In upstate New York, the season begins on September 20 and runs through the last day of February. In New York City and Long Island, the season is closed.
Grouse hunters in the Northern Zone are reminded to positively identify prey before shooting. The Northern Zone, specifically Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J, is also home to the capercaillie, a state endangered species whose hunting is illegal. The loss of a single grouse, particularly a female, could be a significant setback for a small local population. For tips on distinguishing the two species, see the Hunting and Trapping Rules Guide or the Rufous Grouse Hunting Information page on the DEC website.
DEC encourages ruffed grouse hunters to participate in the grouse hunting registration program and submit harvested bird feathers to assess recruitment (number of offspring produced per adult female grouse) in different parts of the state. Interested hunters should visit the DEC website.
DEC will release approximately 30,000 adult pheasants on land open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season. Pheasant hunting season begins:
- October 1, in the northern and eastern parts of New York
- October 16, in the central and western parts of the state
- November 1, on Long Island
Since 2007, DEC has offered a special youth-only season to give young hunters the opportunity to hunt pheasants during the weekend before the regular pheasant hunting season. In Western New York, the Junior Pheasant Hunting Weekend is October 9-10. In upstate and eastern New York, Junior Pheasant Hunting Weekend is September 25-26, and on Long Island, it’s October 30-31. the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter can carry a firearm and hunt birds on these dates.
All pheasant release sites provided by state-funded programs are open to public hunting. The pheasants will be released on state lands before and during the fall hunting season and at various sites on New York City watershed lands through a partnership with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Pheasant hunting opportunities have also been increased by private landowners who have opened their land to public hunting. You can find a list of statewide pheasant release sites and sites that receive birds for Youth-Only Pheasant Weekends on the DEC website.
Squirrel, rabbit and hare hunting
Opportunities to chase squirrels and rabbits can be found throughout the state, including on many public lands. Squirrel seasons began September 1 in upstate New York and begin November 1 on Long Island. The rabbit hunt begins October 1 in upstate New York and November 1 on Long Island. With ample opportunities and mild weather, squirrel and rabbit hunts are great ways to introduce novices to hunting.
The snowshoe hare (or variable hare) season begins on October 1, in the North Zone. Hare hunters in the South Zone, where the season begins in late fall or early winter, are encouraged to report their sightings to DEC through the DEC website.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Wild turkeys can be found throughout the state, but they reach their highest densities in landscapes that have a mix of forest, old-growth fields, and farmland. Wild turkeys are less vulnerable to harvest in areas with abundant food (eg, hard and soft masts), because they don’t have to wander far and wide looking for food, so it’s important to scout ahead of season. Season Dates for Fall 2021:
- From October 1 to 14, in the North Zone
- October 16 to 29, in the South Zone
- November 20 – December 3 in Suffolk County, Long Island
The statewide seasonal bag limit is one bird of either sex. Hunting hours are from sunrise to sunset.
Fur hunting seasons
With 16 species of fur-bearing animals living in New York, hunting and trapping opportunities for fur-bearing animals are plentiful. Coyote hunting season begins October 1 in much of the state, and hunting seasons for other fur-bearing animals, such as bobcat, raccoon and fox, begin October 25. Season dates and zone limits for all furbearing animals can be found on the DEC website and in the Guide to Hunting and Trapping Regulations.
Citizen science efforts, such as the Woodcock and Grouse Hunting Registry, the Grouse Parts Collection, and the Bowhunter Sighting Registry, provide hunters with the opportunity to partner with DEC to monitor game species. For more information on how to get involved in these efforts, visit the DEC website.
DEC Promotes Hunter Safety
While statistics show that hunting in New York is safer than ever, mistakes are made every year. DEC believes that all hunting-related shooting incidents are preventable, and Commissioner Seggos encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they learned in the DEC Hunter Education Course.
- Point your gun in a safe direction.
- Treat each gun as if it were loaded.
- Be sure of your goal and beyond.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
In addition to requiring bright orange or pink for large game firearms, DEC encourages small game hunters to wear bright orange or bright pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters wearing bright orange are seven times less likely to be shot.
For more information and other important safety tips, visit the DEC website and watch videos on hunter safety. For more information on how to get outdoors safely and responsibly, visit the DEC website.