Pheasant Hunting Information
Pheasant hunting in New York is steeped in tradition. Since the first hunting season for pheasants was designated in 1908, New York sportsmen and sportswomen have held the ring-necked pheasant in highest regard. During the late 1960's and early 1970's upland game bird hunting for pheasants had no equal. The raucous cackle of the male pheasant flushing from cover was common place. Today, the wild pheasant population is at an all time low. Not to be dismayed, hunters can still enjoy days afield looking for those hidden pockets of wild pheasants in western New York or pursuing state-stocked pheasants raised on the Richard E. Reynolds game farm in Ithaca. Annually, over 25,000 adult pheasants are released just prior to and during the fall pheasant hunting season. Releases occur across the state on well publicized state and private lands open to public hunting.
Most pheasant hunting takes place in open agricultural fields associated with grain farming or on abandoned farmland covered in aster, goldenrod and other early succession plants. Abandoned farmlands make great release sites for stocking game farm-reared pheasants. Remember, pheasants are not a woodland species. They prefer to nest, roost and raise broods in grassland areas nestled in among rows of corn, wheat, oats and an occasional cattail marsh used for winter cover. Hunting pheasants in this open setting is what makes pheasant hunting so appealing. Successful hunters employ trained bird dogs to help them locate pheasants and retrieve downed game. Popular hunting dogs include flushing breeds like the springer spaniel and Labrador retriever or pointers like the German shorthaired pointer and the Brittany spaniel. So gather a few friends, your favorite hunting dog, and enjoy the brilliance of fall while hunting for the wily ring-necked pheasant.
Here Are Some Helpful Tips!
- You must possess a small game license to hunt pheasants. Thoroughly read the Department's Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide to become familiar with pheasant hunting regulations.
- Do your preseason scouting and planning. Don't wait until opening day to decide where you want to hunt. Review the list of areas stocked with state-reared pheasants.
- Ask permission from landowners to hunt. Common courtesy will ensure you have a place to hunt next year.
- Get yourself and your dog in good physical condition for a safe and enjoyable hunting season.
- Respect other hunters space. Don't crowd. Share the hunting areas and the opportunity to harvest a bird.
Youth Pheasant Hunt
Pheasant hunting was one of the first hunting experiences for many of today's adult hunters, and this two-day hunt will help maintain this traditional introduction to hunting. The excitement of a cackling rooster bursting out of the grassy cover will be an encounter a new hunter won't soon forget! Less crowded hunting conditions, experienced adult hunters and dog handlers, and mild weather combine to provide an exceptional upland hunting experience for junior hunters.
Youth pheasant hunts take place on the last full weekend prior to the start of the regular fall pheasant hunting season in each area of upstate New York. The season dates and bag limits for the Youth Hunt can be found on the Pheasant Hunting Season page or in the New York Hunting and Trapping Guide. Daily bag limits for the Youth Hunt are the same as during the regular season in upstate New York, but on Long Island the youth hunt bag limit is two birds per day. Youth hunters (ages 12-15) must possess a junior hunting license and must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. Only junior hunters are allowed to possess a firearm or harvest birds during the Youth Pheasant Hunt.
Pheasant hunting in New York is sustained largely by stocking of birds by DEC and private game bird breeders across the state. Check the Pheasant Release Sites page in early September for information on release sites in your area.