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New York DEC announces most small game hunting seasons begin Oct. 1

New York DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that most small game hunting seasons will open on Friday, Oct. 1, with special opportunities for youth and military members.

“Every fall, more than 60,000 hunters venture afield to pursue New York’s abundant small game species,” Commissioner Seggos said. “It’s a great way to introduce new hunters to the sport and teach them how to be a safe and responsible member of the hunting community while reconnecting to the outdoors, establishing new traditions, and experiencing New York’s diverse wildlife.”

Season dates, bag limits, and other hunting regulations for New York’s small game species are available in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, which can be obtained from a license-issuing agent or on DEC’s website.

Waterfowl Hunting and Special Youth and Military Days

New York offers vast waterfowl hunting opportunities as hunters may harvest more than 30 species of waterfowl. New York has five waterfowl zones and nine Canada goose zones that help to maximize hunting opportunity across diverse habitats. Most waterfowl zones also have special hunting days for youth and members of the military (both active duty and veterans) that often begin prior to the regular hunting season, giving these hunters the opportunity to hunt with less competition and hunting pressure.

Youth Waterfowl Days:

  • Northeast Zone: Sept. 18-19
  • Southeast and Lake Champlain zones: Sept. 25-26
  • Western Zone: Oct. 2-3
  • Long Island Zone: Nov. 6-7

Military and Veteran Hunting Days:

  • Northeast Zone: Sept. 18-19
  • Southeast Zone: Oct. 9-10
  • Western Zone: Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and 13
  • Long Island Zone: Nov. 13-14
  • There are no special Military/Veteran days for the Lake Champlain Zone.
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Opening dates for the Regular Duck Seasons:

  • Northeast Zone: Oct. 2
  • Lake Champlain Zone: Oct. 13
  • Western and Southeast zones: Oct. 16
  • Long Island Zone: Nov. 20

For more on waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits, visit the Waterfowl Seasons page on DEC’s website.

Ruffed Grouse Hunting

Ruffed grouse hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through the last day of February in most parts 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, a State-endangered species that is illegal to hunt. Loss of a single spruce grouse, particularly a female, could be a significant setback for a small local population. For tips on how to discern the two species, view the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or the Ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.

DEC encourages ruffed grouse hunters to take part in the grouse hunting log program and submit feathers from harvested birds to assess recruitment (number of young produced per adult female grouse) for different parts of the state. Interested hunters should visit the DEC website.

Pheasant Hunting

DEC will release approximately 30,000 adult pheasants 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. 16, in central and western portions of the state
  • Nov. 1, on Long Island
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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. 9 and 10. In northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is Sept. 25 and 26, and on Long Island, it is Oct. 30 and 31. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter can 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 several 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 who have opened their land to public hunting. A list of statewide pheasant release sites and sites receiving birds for the youth-only pheasant hunt weekends can be found on DEC’s website.

Squirrel, Rabbit, and Hare Hunting

Opportunities to pursue squirrels and rabbits can be found throughout the state, including on many public lands. Squirrel seasons started Sept. 1, in Upstate New York and begin Nov. 1, on Long Island. Rabbit hunting begins on Oct. 1, in Upstate New York and on Nov. 1, on Long Island. With ample opportunities and mild weather, squirrel and rabbit hunting are great ways to introduce novices to hunting.

Snowshoe hare (or varying hare) season starts Oct. 1, in the Northern Zone. Hare hunters in the Southern Zone, where the season starts in late fall or early winter, are encouraged to report their observations to DEC through the DEC website.

Wild Turkey Hunting

Wild turkeys can be found throughout the state but reach their highest densities in landscapes that have a mix of forests, old fields, and farmlands. Wild turkeys are less vulnerable to harvest in areas with abundant food (e.g., hard and soft mast), because they don’t have to roam far and wide foraging, so scouting before the season is important. Season dates for fall 2021:

  • Oct. 1 – 14, in the Northern Zone
  • Oct. 16 – 29, in the Southern Zone
  • Nov. 20 – Dec. 3 in Suffolk County, Long Island

The statewide season bag limit is one bird of either sex. Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.

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Furbearer Hunting Seasons

With 16 species of furbearers living in New York, furbearer hunting and trapping opportunities are abundant. Coyote hunting season begins Oct. 1, across much of the state and hunting seasons for other furbearers such as bobcat, raccoon, and fox begin on Oct. 25. Season dates and zone boundaries for all furbearers can be found on DEC’s website and in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

Citizen Science

Citizen science efforts such as the Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log, Ruffed Grouse Parts Collection, and the Bowhunter Sighting Log provide hunters the opportunity to partner with DEC to monitor game species. To learn more about how to participate in these efforts, visit the DEC website.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety

While statistics show 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 encourages hunters to use common sense this season and to remember what they learned in DEC Hunter Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

1.) Point your gun in a safe direction.

2.) Treat every gun as if it were loaded.

3.) Be sure of your target and beyond.

4.) Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

In addition to blaze orange or pink being required for hunting big game with firearms, DEC encourages small game hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking a person for an animal or shooting in a hunter’s direction. Hunters wearing blaze orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

For more information and other important safety tips, please visit DEC’s website and watch videos about hunter safety. For more information about getting outdoors safely and responsibly, visit DEC’s Website.