Hunting in New York

New York does not just have towering skyscrapers and busy streets. In fact, hunting in New York is a hidden gem and a must for hunters.

Although New York boasts charming small towns and dense forests, its bustling urban life also presents a unique challenge. But don’t be discouraged! Hunting in New York offers a rich tapestry of adventure, patience, respect for nature, and even a hint of adrenaline.

Keep reading as we unravel the hunting opportunities in the wilderness of New York.

New York Hunting Seasons

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulates hunting seasons to maintain sustainable wildlife populations while promoting enjoyable hunting opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Here’s the rundown of the hunting seasons in New York:

Deer HuntingBowhunting: Late September to late January
Crossbow: Mid-October to mid-November
Firearms: Late October to mid-December
Muzzleloader: Mid-October to early January
Black Bear HuntingArchery: Mid-September to late December
Muzzleloader: Mid-October to late December
Firearms: Late October to mid-December
Wild Turkey HuntingFall Season: Early October to early December
Spring Season: Throughout May
Upland Game HuntingBobwhite Quail: Early October to late February
Pheasant: Mid-October to late February
Ruffed Grouse: Late September to late February
Small Game HuntingRabbit: Early October to mid-March
Squirrel: Early September to late February
FurbearerCoyote: Early October to late March
Racoon, Fox, Skunk, Opossum, Weasel: Early November to late March

Remember, these hunting seasons may vary yearly. Always verify the current dates and regulations with the New York State DEC or a similar authority before heading afield.

This state is a hunter’s paradise, boasting a vast selection of game, from the ever-elusive white-tailed deer to the crafty wild turkey; New York has you covered.

The state has some big game hunting for those who love the thrill of the chase and small game for those who enjoy a relaxed day out in the fields.

White-Tailed Deer Hunting

Like in every US state, white-tailed deer are pretty much the royalty of big game hunting. In New York, these deer can be found across the state, so whenever hunting field you are, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter these graceful creatures.

Now, why are they such a big deal for state hunters? Well, first, there’s the challenge. Deers are smart and have an uncanny ability to stay one step ahead of you.

Second, there’s the size. A mature buck can weigh a lot, making it a prized trophy for any hunter.

But, of course, before heading afield, it’s important to note its hunting regulation. To hunt deer, you’ll need a hunting license and deer tags. These tags indicate the type of deer (antlered or antlerless) you’re permitted to harvest.

And once you’ve harvested a deer, you must report it to the DEC within a week. This helps them keep track of deer populations and manage future hunting regulations.

Black Bear Hunting

Now, we all know that black bear hunting is not everyone’s cup of tea – it’s only for those who dare. Why, you ask? Well, these are massive animals, incredibly powerful and surprisingly smart.

New York State has areas like the Catskills and the Adirondacks, where the bear population is pretty healthy. Plus, bear hunting helps control the population and keeps the ecosystem balanced.

And to go after a bear in the state, you’ll need a hunting license. And once you’ve bagged a bear, you must fill out a bear tag. This tag comes with your hunting license and helps the DEC keep tabs on bear populations.

Like deer hunting, successful bear hunts must be reported to the DEC within the week of harvest. They also might ask you to submit a premolar tooth or some other part of the bear for research purposes.

Wild Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunting in New York is an absolute blast. These birds are crafty, making them a real challenge to hunt. They have excellent vision and hearing and are surprisingly quick on the ground and in the air.

The thrill of the hunt isn’t the only appeal, though. A big tom turkey also makes for a handsome trophy, and let’s not forget about the delicious feast after a successful hunt. There’s nothing quite like the taste of a wild turkey you’ve harvested yourself.

But like other hunts in New York, turkey hunters must have a valid hunting license and a turkey tag to bag one. About the bag limit, you can chase down one bearded turkey in the spring, and one either-sex for the fall season.

Top Hunting Areas in New York

Remember, it’s not just about the hunt – it’s about immersing yourself in the great outdoors and treating our beautiful wilderness with respect. And lucky you, the state of New York is jam-packed with prime hunting locations for you to enjoy your hunt.

Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondack Mountains, with its 6 million acres of wilderness, is truly a slice of heaven on earth for outdoor lovers. In fact, we’re talking about the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 states!

That means a ton of land for animals to roam and for you to explore. It’s home to white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, and small game species like snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse.

The terrain and habitats are also incredibly diverse. You can find a bit of everything from rugged mountains and softwood swamps to hardwood forests and open meadows.


This region is as picturesque as they come, with rolling hills, leafy forests, and stunning views.

The Catskills cover a good deal of territory, with public state lands interspersed with private property. You’ll find a lot of hardwood forests here, which are prime habitats for wildlife. We’re talking mostly white-tailed deer and black bear, but also wild turkey and a range of small game.

One of the key attractions for hunters in the Catskills is the sizable deer and bear population. There’s a good chance you’ll get to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Finger Lakes National Forest

Between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, Finger Lakes National Forest is the only national forest in New York. This relatively small forest is a gem offering a mix of flora and fauna, making it a truly enticing hunting spot.

Here you can find white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and a variety of small game species. The forest’s mixture of pastures, woodlands, shrubs, and wetlands provides a rich game habitat, making your hunting trip both challenging and rewarding.

Remember, motorized vehicles are generally prohibited off designated roads and trails.

Tug Hill Plateau

The Tug Hill region is renowned for its impressive snowfall, thanks to the lake effect snow from Lake Ontario. But don’t let that deter you.

Because of its young forests and bountiful snow, the Tug Hill Plateau is particularly known for its snowshoe hare population.

But that’s not all – you’ll also find a healthy ruffed grouse and woodcock population. The snow cover makes tracking these critters a bit easier, adding an exciting twist to your hunt.

Unlike the Adirondacks or the Catskills, there’s a bit more flexibility with motorized vehicles in Tug Hill. Some areas allow snowmobiles and ATVs, but check local regulations.

New York Hunting Regulations

Like any other state, the New York State DEC ensures the safety of everyone – and yes, that includes the hunters, game species, and the environment. And to make that possible, the state has implemented several regulations.

License and Permits

First things first, before you head out on your hunt, make sure you’ve got your New York hunting license. The type of license you’ll need can vary depending on what you’re hunting and your residency status.

Also, hunting permits are needed depending on the type of your hunt.

License Types

Regular Hunting$22.00$100.00
Junior Hunting$5.00$5.00
Senior Hunting$5.00N/A
Small Game HuntingN/A1-Day: $20.00
7-Day: $55.00

Permit Types

Muzzleloader Privileges$15.00$15.00
Bowhunting Privileges$15.00$30.00
Turkey Permit$10.00$20.00
Deer Management Permits$10.00$10.00
Duck Stamp$25.00$25.00

Hunter Education Course

The first thing to know is that if you were born on or after January 1, 1949, you’d need to take this course before you could get a hunting license. So, if you plan to join the hunting community in New York, the Hunter Education Course is your first stop!

Why do you need to take the course? The goal is to ensure all hunters know the essentials about safe, ethical, and responsible hunting. The course covers various topics, from wildlife conservation and habitat management to hunting laws and regulations, safe handling of firearms, and more.

The best part? Once you pass the course, you’ll receive a certificate that never expires and is accepted in all 50 states, Canada, and Mexico. So, it’s a one-time commitment that opens the door to hunting adventures across North America!

Wear Hunter Orange

In New York State, the law requires that anyone out hunting big game during a firearm season or hunting small game during the fall turkey season wear at least one solid or patterned blaze orange or pink article. That could be a hat, a vest, or a jacket. The key is that it needs to be visible from all sides.

And remember, this isn’t just about you. If you’re hunting with friends or family, ensure they wear blaze orange or pink too. Even non-hunting companions must wear hunter orange or pink if they accompany you during a firearm deer or bear season.

Harvest Reports

You might be wondering why you must report your successful hunt. Well, it’s all about wildlife management and conservation. By reporting your harvest, you’re helping wildlife biologists keep track of game populations, which in turn helps them make decisions about hunting seasons, bag limits, and more.

Don’t worry; it’s a pretty easy process and can be done online, by phone, or even through the DEC HuntFishNY mobile app.

For the report, you’ll need to provide some basic info like your hunting license number, the date and location of your hunt, and the sex and age of the animal. For deer, you might also need to report the number of points on the antlers if it’s a buck.

Use of Tree Stands and Saddle

In New York, you’re allowed to use tree stands and saddles on state lands, but they must be portable and must not cause damage to the tree. That means no nails, screws, or anything else that could harm the tree.

Additionally, these tools cannot be placed more than 30 days before the start of the hunting season and must be removed no later than 30 days after the end of the season. This helps to prevent damage to trees and minimize the impact on other users of public lands.

And don’t forget; you should never use a tree stand or tree saddle on private property without explicit permission from the landowner. Respect for private property is a key part of being a responsible hunter.


Overall, hunting in New York offers a rich and diverse experience. The state boasts a vast selection of game species, picturesque landscapes that enhance the hunting experience, and comprehensive regulations ensuring a fair and enjoyable hunting experience.

Remember, hunting is more fun if done responsibly. Check our hunting facts and fiction post to know the rights and wrongs of hunting.