Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Furbearer Hunting

Coyote
Photo by Steve Thompson; courtesy of USFWS

There are ten species of furbearers that may be hunted: coyote, bobcat, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, and muskrat. Mink and muskrat may only be hunted under special conditions (see below).

License Requirements

To hunt furbearers, you need to possess a hunting license. A trapping license does not allow you to hunt furbearers.

Hunting Hours and Methods

  • Bobcat, coyote, red fox, grey fox, raccoon, opossum, and skunk may be hunted at any hour, day or night, beginning after sunrise on the opening day of the season and thereafter until midnight on the closing day of the season. For more on hunting furbearers at night, see below.
  • You may hunt furbearers using a handgun, shotgun, rifle, bow, or crossbow. All laws pertaining to the use of firearms apply.
  • Crossbows may not be used while hunting with a dog for any small game, except for coyotes, in the Northern Zone.
  • You may hunt furbearers with a rifle chambered in any cartridge, except that during any open season for deer - including archery, muzzleloading and regular seasons - you may not possess a rifle larger than .22 caliber rimfire afield, during the day or night, to hunt wildlife, including furbearers in any county or portion of a county where deer hunting with rifles is prohibited during the regular deer season. Centerfire rifles smaller than .22 caliber are permitted.
  • Air guns may be used to hunt furbearers. An air gun is defined as a firearm that uses spring or compressed air (not gunpowder) to propel a single projectile that is .17 caliber or larger and produces a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet/second.
  • You may use a call, including an electronic call.

Possession and Use of Rifles for Hunting Furbearers

To determine whether you may use a rifle to hunt furbearers, answer the following questions:

  1. Is any deer season open in the location you wish to hunt (including archery, muzzleloading, regular, late, and Deer Management Focus Area)?
    1. If NO, you may use any caliber rimfire or centerfire rifle for hunting furbearers.
    2. If YES, can deer be hunted with rifles in that location during the regular (firearms) deer season?
      1. If YES, you may use any caliber rimfire or centerfire rifle for hunting furbearers during any open deer season.
      2. If NO, you may only possess afield rimfire rifles .22-caliber or smaller, or centerfire rifles less than .22-caliber (e.g., .204, .17) during any open deer season. Once all deer seasons are closed, the restriction ends, except:
  2. You may never possess a rifle afield in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties.
  3. In the Northern Zone, it is illegal to carry a rifle larger than .22-caliber rimfire (or .22-caliber or larger centerfire rifles) at any time if accompanied by a dog, except when coyote hunting.

Furbearer Hunting at Night

You may hunt furbearers at night, with or without a light, as follows:

  • You may use a light, but you may not hunt from any motor vehicle, including an ATV. All laws pertaining to the use of a spotlight and firearm apply.
  • If hunting without a light, the use of a light gathering ("starlight") scope is legal on any firearm listed below.
  • You may use a handgun, bow, or crossbow.
  • You may use a shotgun loaded with shot (any size).
  • You may hunt furbearers with a rifle chambered in any cartridge, except that during any open season for deer - including archery, muzzleloading and regular seasons - you may not possess a centerfire rifle afield, during the day or night, to hunt wildlife, including furbearers in any county or portion of a county where deer hunting with rifles is prohibited during the regular deer season. Centerfire rifles smaller than .22 caliber are permitted (e.g., .204, .17 Hornet). See the section above for further clarification.

NOTE: In Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties rifles are not allowed. In all other localities, be sure to check with local officials about laws restricting the discharge of a firearm at night.

Reporting Your Take

There is mandatory harvest reporting only for bobcat, which includes completion of a furbearer possession tag and subsequent pelt sealing. For details, visit the Furbearer Possession Tag & Pelt Seal webpage.

Selling Furbearers

  • All furbearers except bobcat may be bought and sold with or without the pelt attached to the carcass.
  • To sell bobcat pelts, or unskinned carcasses, you must follow "Pelt Sealing" requirements.

More about Furbearer Hunting: