Frequently Asked Questions About Hunting
Below are answers to a number of questions frequently asked by New York hunters. Use the links in the right margin to jump to specific topics.
Q: Can I take my young child (or an unlicensed person) with me while I am deer hunting?
A: Yes, and we highly recommend it! Just make sure the child (or unlicensed person) is not hunting or assisting in any aspect of the hunt (like driving deer). Bring an extra pair of binoculars and plenty of snacks. Have a good time!
Q: Can my son or daughter hunt small game while I hunt deer?
A: Yes, but your son or daughter must have a Hunting license and cannot actively participate in the big game hunt (including driving deer).
Q: Can I participate in someone else's hunt after I have filled all of my deer tags?
A: Yes. A licensed hunter who has filled his or her tags may continue to participate in the hunt, including driving of deer, but may not attempt to shoot a deer.
Q: When and where can I hunt bears?
A: See Black Bear Hunting Seasons.
Q: How do I get a NYS Bear Management Cooperator Patch?
A: NYS Black Bear patches will be sent to all successful bear hunters who report their bear (1-866-426-3778) and submit a portion of the lower jaw or a tooth of the bear for us to determine the age of the bear. See Black Bear Tooth Collection for more information about the submitting tooth samples and the NYS Bear Management Cooperator Patch.
Q: I harvested a bear. How do I find out how old it is?
A: Report your bear, submit a tooth or section of the jaw, and you will receive a NYS Bear Cooperator Patch in the fall and a letter indicating the age of your bear in the spring. See Black Bear Tooth Collection for more information.
Q: What firearm can I use during the Early Bear Season in the Adirondacks?
A: You may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle during the Early Bear Season in the Adirondacks.
Q: Can a Bear tag be consigned like a Deer Management Permit?
A: No. If you are fortunate enough to harvest a bear, consider yourself lucky and wait until next year for another tag.
Q: Can I use bait to hunt bears?
A: No. You may only use up to 1.5 fluid ounces of a liquid scent or lure.
Q: Can I trap or snare bears?
Q: Can I use dogs to hunt bears?
Q: Can people train dogs to pursue bears?
A: Yes. Training of dogs on black bears is a legal activity and one that is vital to managing certain types of bears nuisance activity in New York. The use of bear hounds is one of the most effective tools for reducing bear damage to farms, especially reducing damage to corn. Bear houndsmen are currently licensed by the DEC, and their activities are regulated pursuant to 6 NYCRR Section 187.2 (link leaves DEC website). The training season begins July 1 and ends prior to legal bear hunting seasons.
Q: I found a bear den. Is DEC interested in this information?
A: Yes. Please call the nearest wildlife office. Also, please refrain from visiting the site or taking other people to see the bear den. Female bears give birth in the den, and frequent disturbance by humans may cause the bear to abandon the den and may affect the survival of the cubs.
Deer Management Permits (DMPs)
Q: When is the deadline for getting my DMPs? Where do I get them?
A: The deadline for applying for DMPs is October 1, and you may apply at any license issuing outlet, by phone, mail, or online. See DECALS for more information about purchasing a DMP. Be sure to know the Wildlife Management Unit for which you want to apply. See the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for a map of WMU boundaries or contact your nearest wildlife office.
Q: How do I find out what my chances are for getting a DMP?
A: See the DMP Permit Probabilities and Selection Process and scroll to the table at the bottom of the page.
Q: My DMP has the wrong WMU specified on the tag. Can I get a new one?
A: Possibly. It is always best to check the WMU on your DMP before leaving the license issuing outlet. If the clerk simply made an error, he or she can contact our DMP Hotline (1-866-472-4332) to get the error corrected. If you asked for the wrong WMU or you changed your mind, you're stuck with your mistake. Remember, DMPs are only valid for the WMU specified on the tag.
Q: What is DMP Consignment and how does it work?
A: See Consignment of Deer Management Permits.
Q: Can a Regular Season tag (buck tag) or a Bow/Muzzleloading tag be given to another person?
A: No. Only DMPs can be signed over to another person (consigned).
Regular and Special Season (Bow/Muzzleloading) and Tags
Q: I need to put in for my vacation time at work. What are the dates for next year's deer season?
A: See Future Big Game Hunting Seasons.
Q: May I shoot more than one deer in a day if I have the proper tags?
A: Yes, as long as you have the proper tags you may shoot more than one deer in a day.
Q: May I use my Bow/Muzzleloading tags (either-sex and antlerless tags) during the Regular Season?
A: No. Bow/Muzzleloading tags are only valid during the special bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons depending on which privileges you purchased. Bow/Muzzleloading tags are not valid during the Regular Seasons, except in Westchester and Suffolk Counties or by junior archers hunting with a bow during the regular seasons.
Q: May I use my Regular Season deer tag during the special seasons?
A: Your Regular Season deer tag cannot be used in the Early Bowhunting or Early Muzzleloading seasons. It can only be used in the Regular Deer Seasons in the Northern and Southern Zones to take a buck. Except, the Regular Season deer tag is valid for deer of either sex in Westchester & Suffolk counties, in areas restricted to bowhunting only (WMUs 4J and 8C), and during the late seasons with the appropriate bow or muzzleloading privileges. During the late seasons, the Regular Season deer tag is valid for deer of either sex.
Q: Why are bowhunters not allowed to use the regular deer tag during the early Bowhunting Season?
A: The simple reason is as a measure of fairness. Adult bucks are a limited resource, and many hunters go multiple seasons before successfully harvesting a buck. To allow bowhunters the opportunity to harvest two bucks prior to the opening of the gun season would be to provide bowhunters an unfair advantage.
Q: Can I use my antlerless Bow/Muzzleloading tag in a unit where the muzzleloader hunting regulations specify only antlered deer can be taken?
A: No. You may only shoot deer that can legally be taken in the unit in which you are hunting. The individual unit regulations and tag requirements must both be satisfied and dictate what may be taken during the muzzleloading seasons.
Q: What is an antlerless deer?
A: An antlerless deer is a female or a male with antlers that are less than 3 inches long. Antlerless deer may be tagged with your DMP or Bow/Muzzleloading antlerless or either-sex tags. Deer with antlers that are 3 inches or longer may only be tagged with your Regular Season tag or Bow/Muzzleloading either-sex tag.
Q: Does the Pilot Antler Restriction Program change the type of deer I can take with my antlerless tag?
A: No. The legal definition of an antlered deer remains any animal with one antler 3 inches long or longer. This definition applies in the Pilot Antler Restriction area and throughout the rest of the state. You may only use your antlerless tags (Bow/Muzzleloading or DMPs) for female deer or bucks with antlers less than 3 inches. You may NOT use an antlerless tag on a buck with antlers greater than 3" but less than the 3-point on one side restriction.
Q: Where should I attach the carcass tags to my deer?
A: DEC does not require the carcass tag be attached to a deer in any specific location, but we recommended that you attached the tag to the head of the deer, either to an antler or through a small slit through the ear. Twist ties or small cable ties work well for this purpose. Look carefully for the perforated hole on the carcass tag. You must fill out the carcass tag immediately upon taking a deer, but you do not need to attach it to the animal until you get back to your vehicle or camp. You are responsible to ensure that your deer is tagged. If the tag falls off during transport, you could be ticketed for possessing an untagged deer.
Q: I'm having trouble cutting out the notches on my carcass tag. What can I do?
A: Immediately upon taking a deer you are required to fill out the carcass tag. You must mark the date of kill on the carcass tag either by cutting out the day and month along the edge of the tag or by writing the day and month with a pen that won't erase.
Q: Do I need to have my deer tags with the deer meat in my freezer?
A: No, the tags remain on the carcass. When the carcass is disposed of, the tags may also be discarded. However, when you are transporting packaged venison, you must provide a tag with the meat.
Q: What types of scopes are prohibited in New York?
A: Any scope that projects light beyond the body of the scope, including laser sights, is prohibited for hunting deer and bear in New York. Artificial lights, including laser sights, may be used at night to hunt coyote, fox, raccoon, or bobcat. You may not use artificial lights to hunt big game.
Q: Can I use lighted sights on my bow to hunt for deer or bear?
A: Yes. Lighted sights are legal on bowhunting equipment as long as the light only illuminates the sights and does not project outward from the sight housing.
Q: What types of muzzleloaders are legal in New York?
A: See Muzzleloading information under Deer and Bear Hunting Regulations.
Q: When is a muzzleloader considered unloaded and legal to transport in a motor vehicle?
A: A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when the cap is off the nipple, the primer is removed, the primer powder is removed from the flintlock pan, or the battery is not in an electric-fired muzzleloader.
Q: Can I have a loaded rifle or shotgun on a farm vehicle or while on an ATV?
A: No. You can not have a loaded firearm (other than pistol with appropriate permits), on or in any motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is anything operated by other than muscle power.
Q: If my loaded firearm is only leaning against a motor vehicle, is it considered a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle?
A: Yes. A firearm leaning against a motor vehicle is considered ON a motor vehicle.
Q: What types of rifles are allowed for big game hunting in New York?
A: All center-fire rifles are legal in New York except fully automatic firearms, an autoloading firearm capable of holding more than 6 shells, or any firearm equipped with a silencer. See the legal implements page for more information. There is no caliber requirement. Rimfire ammunition cannot be used for deer or bear hunting.
Q: Can I go coyote hunting at night with a center-fire rifle?
A: It depends where you are hunting and if there is any open deer season. Please see Furbearer Hunting at Night.
Q: I have a pistol permit, may I carry my handgun while bowhunting?
A: No. While bowhunting during a special bow season, you may not possess a firearm of any description.
Q: I have a pistol permit, may I carry my handgun while deer or bear hunting with a muzzleloader?
A: No. While muzzleloader hunting during a special muzzleloader season for deer or bear, you may not possess a firearm of any description.
Q: Can I carry my .22 caliber rim-fire handgun with me while I'm big game hunting?
A: Yes, but only during the regular deer season or early and regular bear seasons and only if you have a NYS pistol permit. You may not use the .22 caliber rim-fire as a primary or secondary weapon to take deer or bear. You may not possess a firearm of any description while bowhunting.
Q: How far off a highway must I be to shoot a gun?
A: You must be entirely off the road and shoulder. You may not shoot across the road.
Q: I am an bowhunter and I want to switch from fixed blades to mechanical blades. How do I know which blades are legal?
A: Broadheads with mechanical blades are legal for big game if the blades do not form a barb or hook when the arrow is pulled from the flesh of a deer or bear. Most mechanical broadheads have a barbed profile when in the expanded (open) position. However, mechanical blades are legal if the blades DO NOT form a barb or hook when the arrow is pulled from the flesh of a deer or bear.
Q: Are flint-, chert- or obsidian-knapped broadheads legal?
A: Yes, as long as the broadheads measures 7/8 inch or more at its widest point, has at least 2 cutting edges and is not barbed.
Q: Can I use a light to see my way through the woods when I go hunting?
A: Yes. You may use a small flashlight to safely travel to or from your hunting location as long as you are not using the light to locate or hunt any big game.
Q: Is it legal to use decoys and electronic calls to hunt deer?
A: Both decoys and electronic calls are legal to use for deer hunting in NY. You should exercise caution when transporting a deer decoy to and from the locations in the field. Some hunters wrap a strip of blaze orange material around the decoy when carrying it.
Q: Can I use an electronic call for coyote and other furbearer hunting?
A: Yes. You may NOT use an electronic call for turkey, ducks or geese.
Q: What types of attractants are legal for deer hunting?
A: You may use cover scents and lures, such as doe urine, for deer hunting. However, it is illegal to place a salt block or mineral lick on lands inhabited by deer at any time of year. It is also illegal to feed deer. Some attractants that are marketed for deer are liquids or dissolving powders which deer may not directly consume, but the attractants may entice deer to feed on the material which absorbed the attractant. These types of produces would not be legal.