Recent Hunting Rules Changes
This is a summary of recent significant changes. Check the annual Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for other changes such as season dates.
Youth Firearms Deer Hunt
DEC has established a youth firearms season for deer to occur during the 3-day Columbus Day weekend in both the Northern and Southern Zones, excluding bowhunting only areas and Suffolk County. Youth hunters (ages 14-15) will be eligible to take one deer of either-sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult. See Junior Hunter Mentoring for more information.
More Bowhunting Opportunity
Bow season in the Southern Zone and the regular season in Westchester County (bowhunting only) will now begin October 1 each year. In the Northern Zone, a new bowhunting season will run for 7 days following the close of the regular season in areas that also have a late muzzleloader season.
Greater Use of Deer Management Permits (DMPs)
Previously, Deer Management Permits (DMPs) could only be used in the Northern Zone during the regular season and during all "late" seasons.
Now, Northern Zone DMPs can be used during all seasons in the Northern Zone, when used in the proper Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) and with the proper privilege (e.g., archery license required during archery season, muzzleloader license during muzzleloader season.)
Bonus DMPs will be available in WMU 9A.
Mandatory Antler Restrictions in More WMUs
Hunters in WMUs 3A, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W are now prohibited from taking a buck during any season (bow, regular, and muzzleloader) unless it has at least one antler with 3 or more points. Youth hunters (ages 12-16) are exempt from the 3 point restriction. See Antler Restrictions in New York for more information.
Deer Management Focus Area established in portions of Tompkins County
This program will intensify use of traditional hunting to assist communities with the burden of overabundant deer populations. Hunters that register with the Focus Area program and have access to hunt in the focus area will be eligible to take 2 antlerless deer per day and participate in a special season in January.
Recent legislation lowered the minimum age for youth hunters to purchase a Junior Bowhunting license for big game hunting from 14 to 12 years of age. See Sporting Licenses for Junior Bowhunting license information and the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program for detailed information on youth hunting requirements.
Please note: the law allowing use of crossbows expired on December 31, 2012. Crossbows may no longer be used for hunting in New York.
Additional Bear Hunting in the Southern Zone
DEC has adopted regulatory changes that will open new areas in eastern New York for black bear hunting and establish uniform bear hunting season dates across the Southern Zone beginning in the Fall of 2011. See Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons for season dates and locations.
Woodcock season has been expanded to 45 days for the Fall of 2011. See Woodcock Hunting Seasons for dates.
Modified Longbow Authorization
Please note: this law will expire on December 31, 2012, after which the Modified Archery Permit will again be required.
With proper authorization, hunters with permanent or temporary physical disabilities, and who are unable to draw and hold a bow, may use a bow equipped with a device to hold it in a drawn position. See Modified Longbow Authorization for more details.
Antler Restrictions in WMU 3A
New York's antler restriction program includes all of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3C, 3H, 3J & 3K in the Southern Catskills, and a new law signed by the Governor in August 2011 extends mandatory antler restrictions into the part of WMU 3A that is south and west of Route 28. See the Deer Hunting Season map for details.
Game Harvest Reporting Period Extended
Hunters now have 7 days to report their harvest of deer, bear or turkey. Successful hunters of deer, bear, and turkey are required to report their harvest through the DEC's online reporting system or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778). In the past, hunters were required to report within 48 hours of their harvest. As a measure to increase flexibility for hunters to comply with the reporting requirement, particularly for hunters who hunt in remote areas that lack cell phone coverage or internet access or both, DEC has extended the reporting deadline to within 7 days of taking the animal.
Chronic Wasting Disease
New York is now entering a recovery phase of monitoring Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer. Beginning with the 2010 hunting seasons, DEC will no longer require mandatory checking of harvested deer in the designated containment area. See CWD Regulations for Hunters for more information.
Changes to Pheasant Areas
DEC recently revised our Management Plan for Ring-necked Pheasants in New York State to reflect the current status of wild pheasant populations and desires of pheasant hunters, including changes to pheasant hunting areas. See Pheasant Hunting Seasons for the new hunting area boundaries.
Air guns may now be used for hunting small game. Air guns are 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 per second. Smooth or rifled bore air guns are allowed.