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, which can be obtained from a license issuing agent, and on DEC’s 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 opened 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 ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.
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 below.
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. 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.