New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that several small game hunting seasons open Oct. 1 across New York State, including special youth hunts and new hunting opportunities for active-duty military members and veterans.
Several special youth-only hunting seasons for pheasants and waterfowl occur prior to the start of the regular season. 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.
Special Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities for Youth and Active-Duty Military
Hunting seasons for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and brant) begin in early October in many parts of the state. However, there are opportunities for youth hunters to get a jump start. This fall’s youth waterfowl days are:
- Sept. 26 and 27 in the Lake Champlain Zone;
- Oct. 3 and 4 in the Western Zone; and
- Nov. 7 and 8 in the Long Island Zone.
In addition to youth dates, DEC is providing special hunting opportunities for active-duty military personnel and veterans. Participating hunters must carry identification that verifies their active duty or veteran status. This fall’s active-duty military and veteran days are:
- Oct. 10 and 11 in the Southeast Zone;
- Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and Nov. 14 in the Western Zone; and
- Nov. 14 and 15 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, a State-endangered species that is not legal to hunt. Loss of a single 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 encourages ruffed grouse hunters to take part in the grouse hunting log program and 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 DEC website.
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. 17 in central and western portions of the state; and
- Nov. 1 on Long Island.
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 enjoyed better reproductive success this summer compared to last year. As a result, turkey hunters can expect to see more birds while afield this fall. 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 2020:
- Oct. 1 – 14 in the Northern Zone;
- Oct. 17 – Oct. 30 in the Southern Zone; and
- Nov. 21 – Dec. 4 in Suffolk County, Long Island.