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Migratory Game Bird Seasons & Regulations

Information for Hunting Woodcock, Crow, Snipe, Rail, & Gallinule

This is a summary of regulations about hunting migratory game birds other than waterfowl, including woodcock, crow, snipe, rail, and gallinule. You can read the state and federal regulations on the internet. The state regulations are in Title 6, New York Code of Rules and Regulations, Section 2.30. (link leaves DEC's website) The federal regulations are in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20

NOTE: For hunting these species, some migratory game bird hunting regulations do not apply. Please read the regulations on the Woodcock, Crow, Snipe, Rail and Gallinule Hunting page, and the General Hunting and Small Game Hunting pages.

Help track woodcock! Participate in the Grouse & Woodcock Hunting Log!

License Requirements

  • You must purchase a hunting license. Visit our Hunting Licenses page for information on types of licenses available and where to purchase.
  • You must register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) only if you are hunting waterfowl or woodcock. HIP registration is valid from July 1 - June 30 annually.
  • You do NOT need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp to hunt coot, crow, rail, gallinule, snipe, or woodcock.
  • Hunters aged 12-15 years are required to register with HIP, but do not need a federal migratory bird hunting stamp.

Nontoxic Shot

  • You must use nontoxic shot when hunting ducks, geese, brant, snipe, rails, gallinules, or coots. While hunting these species, you must possess only nontoxic shot.
  • Approved nontoxic shots include: steel, bismuth/tin, tungsten/iron, tungsten/polymer, tungsten/matrix, tungsten/nickel/iron, or other shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


You may NOT hunt migratory game birds using these methods:

  • With a shotgun that holds more than three shells, unless it has a plug that cannot be removed without taking the shotgun apart.
  • With a shotgun larger than 10 gauge, or with a rifle or handgun. (see NOTE below)
  • With a trap, snare, or net.
  • With a swivel gun, battery gun, machine gun, or explosive.
  • With fishhooks, poisons, or drugs.
  • From a sink box. This is a float that conceals your entire body below the water surface.
  • From a car or other motor vehicle on land. (Paraplegics and leg amputees, with a permit issued by DEC, are exempted from this restriction.)
  • With live decoys.
  • With electronic calls, amplifiers, or tapes of calls. (see NOTE below)
  • By driving or chasing birds with any motorized boat or vehicle, or sailboat so that the birds are pushed in shooting range of hunters.
  • By using bait. A "baited area" is considered to be baited for 10 days after any bait is actually removed. Even if you did not place the bait, you may still be ticketed if you hunt in a baited area.
  • Crossbows may not be used to take waterfowl or other migratory game birds.

NOTE: Rifles and electronically amplified bird calls or sounds are allowed for crows only.

You may hunt migratory birds near standing or harvested crops, flooded or unflooded. You also may hunt where grain crops have been shocked in the field, or where grains are scattered on the ground from normal farm practices.

After You Shoot...

  • You must make a reasonable effort to retrieve all killed or crippled birds.
  • Any wounded birds must be immediately killed and included in your daily bag.
  • The head or one fully feathered wing must stay on each bird until you get home or go to a commercial storage site.

Tagging Birds You Shoot

If you leave your birds with someone else, you need to tag the birds with this information:

  • Your signature and address.
  • A list of all birds by species and date of kill.

These requirements apply if you give your birds to someone else to transport, clean, store, ship, or prepare for mounting.


If you ship birds, mark the package with this information:

  • Your name and address.
  • The name and address of the person you are shipping the birds to.
  • The number of birds, by species.
  • All of the information noted above must be on the package.
  • One fully feathered wing must stay on each bird
  • With the exception of birds sent here from Canada, you need to remove the head and feet, along with internal organs from any bird shipped.
  • You are not allowed to ship birds taken by another hunter

More about Migratory Game Bird Seasons & Regulations: