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Deer and Bear Hunting Regulations

REMINDER: New Deer and Bear Hunting Opportunities and Requirements continue in 2022

1. Antlerless-only deer season in mid-September (9/10 - 9/18/2022) using firearms, crossbows, and vertical bows in WMUs 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F, and using only vertical bows in WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C. DMPs and DMAP tags only.

2. Daily hunting hours for deer and bear are extended to 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. See the sunrise-sunset table on the last page of the annual Hunting & Trapping Regulations Guide.

3. Hunters must wear a fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat or vest when hunting deer or bear with a firearm.

4. Antlerless harvest allowed again during the early muzzleloader season in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6F, 6J.

5. Bear season in the Adirondacks is simplified by extending the regular season to cover the full hunting period.

6. 12 and 13-year old hunters may hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow in counties that passed a local law to participate in the opportunity. See Junior Big Game Hunting for a map of participating counties.

7. Holiday Deer Hunt is an extension of the late bow and muzzleloader season from December 26 - January 1 in the Southern Zone. Hunters and other recreationists are encouraged to Share the Snow (PDF).

The following is a summary of hunting laws and regulations for big game hunters. For complete reference consult the New York State Environmental Conservation Law and Volume 6 of the Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York.

Big Game Importation Restrictions

Hunters May Not Bring Whole Deer, Elk, Moose, or Caribou into New York

Due to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) within the United States and Canada, New York has established special restrictions on the importation of carcasses and parts of CWD-susceptible animals from anywhere outside New York. These restrictions, among others, are established to minimize the risk of exposing New York deer to this fatal disease.

Hunters are now prohibited from returning to New York with whole carcasses or intact heads of deer, elk, moose, or caribou that they harvest anywhere outside of New York.

Only the deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products of CWD-susceptible animals may be brought into New York.

Whole carcasses that are imported into New York illegally will be confiscated and destroyed.

map shows imports from all other states and Canada are restricted
Allowed Parts Species Affected
  • Deboned meat
  • Cleaned skull cap
  • Antlers with no flesh
  • Raw or processed cape or hide
  • Cleaned teeth or lower jaw
  • Finished taxidermy products

Learn how to properly bone out a deer or elk (leaves DEC website)

  • White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • Black-tailed deer and Mule deer (O. hemionus)
  • Red deer (Cervus elaphus) and Elk (C. e. canadensis)
  • Moose (Alces alces)
  • Sika deer (Cervus nippon)
  • Caribou and Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)

Marking and Tagging Requirements

Hunters returning to New York with allowable parts of CWD-susceptible animals must mark the parts or packages containing the parts with a tag identifying the:

  • species of animal
  • state, province, or country where the animal was taken
  • name and address of the person who took the animal

Usually the tagging requirements of the state/province/territory of origin will contain this information.

Reporting CWD-Positive Animals

Any person who imports allowable parts of a CWD-susceptible animal and who is notified that the animal tested positive for CWD must report the test results to the DEC within 24 hours. DEC will make arrangements to collect and incinerate the CWD-infected venison.

Mail: Attention: Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, New York 12233-4750
Phone: (518) 402-8883

Transportation through New York State

Travelers are permitted to PASS THROUGH New York to transport carcasses, provided no parts are disposed of or remain in New York. Hunters should be aware of import restrictions in their destination state or province to ensure compliance.

Transportation out of New York State

Many other states have similar restrictions about importing carcasses or carcass parts into their state. Non-Resident hunters should be aware of their home state's restrictions on importation of carcasses or carcass parts of animals harvested in New York. Find a Deer Processor or Taxidermist in New York State (PDF).

The information on this page is a general summary of the state regulation Part 189: Chronic Wasting Disease (link leaves DEC website).

Hunting Hours

NEW: Big game hunting hours are now 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Sunday hunting is allowed in all areas of New York. Check the area that you hunt carefully. For hunting on state parks, confirm regulations with the park before hunting.

Legally Antlered Deer

A legally antlered deer must have at least one antler that is three inches or longer measured from the base of the burr. Special regulations apply in the Antler Restriction area.

"Early" and "Late" Seasons for Deer and Bear

When you see the term "early" muzzleloader or archery season, it means before the regular deer season for that particular zone. "Late" means after the regular deer season for that zone.

Rifle, Shotgun and Bow Areas

The portions of New York where rifles, shotguns, and bows may be used during the regular firearms seasons are set in law by the state legislature.

Legal Implements for Early Antlerless Deer Season, Regular Deer Season, Early and Regular Bear Season

It is illegal to hunt big game with:
  • a fully automatic firearm;
  • an autoloading firearm that holds more than 6 shells (except an autoloading pistol with a barrel length under 8 inches);
  • any firearm equipped with a silencer; or
  • an air gun or air bow.
Big game hunters are permitted to carry:
  • a .22 caliber rim-fire handgun during regular deer season or early and regular bear seasons, if they possess a NYS pistol permit; or
  • a.22 caliber rim-fire cannot be used as a primary or secondary weapon to take deer or bear.

Written Descriptions of Areas Shown on Legal Implements Map

Bow, Crossbow, Muzzleloader, Handgun, Shotgun, and Rifle Areas:

All of Northern Zone (see description of Northern-Southern Zone Line).

All of Albany (except WMU 4J which is bow only), Allegany, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Herkimer, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Seneca, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties. Also, the portion of Chautauqua county south of Rt. 20 and all of Broome County except the city of Binghamton.

Bow, Crossbow, Muzzleloader, Handgun, and Shotgun Areas:

All of the following counties, except the areas listed in parentheses: Chautauqua (except south of Rt. 20 where rifles are also legal), Dutchess, Erie (except WMU 9C which is closed to big game hunting), Monroe (except WMU 8C which is bow only), Niagara, Onondaga, Putnam, and Rockland counties.

Bow only areas:

Albany County (WMU 4J)

Monroe County (WMU 8C)

Suffolk County (WMU 1C). All of Suffolk County. Except shotguns and muzzleloaders may be used during the Special January Firearms Season in Suffolk County.

Westchester County (WMU 3S). All of Westchester County.

Description of Legal Hunting Implements for Big Game
Implement Description
Bow Long (stick), recurve or compound bow with a draw weight in excess of 35 pounds. A legal arrowhead is non-barbed, has 2 or more cutting edges and is at least 7/8 inches wide.
Crossbow Consists of a bow, a string, and either compound or recurve limbs with minimum width of 17 inches (tip of limbs, uncocked), mounted on a stock. The stock shall have a trigger with a working safety that holds the string and limbs under tension until released. It shall have a minimum overall length from the butt of the stock to the front of the limbs of 24 inches and be able to launch a minimum 14 inch arrow/bolt, not including the legal arrowhead. It shall have a draw weight of 100 to 200 pounds.
Muzzeloader Firearm loaded through the muzzle with a minimum bore of .44 inches and shooting a single projectile. Scopes or fiber-optic sights may be used at any time. You must possess a NYS Pistol Permit to hunt with a muzzleloading pistol.
Handgun1,2 Any centerfire pistol2 or revolver. Barrel length maximum is 16 inches.
NOTE: Possession of handguns in New York State requires a NYS Pistol Permit. New York does not recognize permits issued by other states.
Shotgun1 Must be 20 gauge or larger and fire a single projectile. Rifling in the barrel or choke is allowed.
Rifle1 Any centerfire rifle.


Use of crossbow for big game hunting in NY is determined by the New York State Legislature and Governor, not DEC. See Crossbow Hunting for license and training requirements, general rules, and specific season opportunities.

Fluorescent Orange & Fluorescent Pink Clothing Requirements

New: Any person hunting deer or bear with a firearm or a person who is accompanying someone hunting deer or bear with a firearm shall wear:

  1. a minimum total of two hundred fifty square inches of solid fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink material worn above the waist and visible from all directions; or
  2. a minimum total of two hundred fifty square inches of patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink consisting of no less than fifty percent fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink worn above the waist and visible from all directions; or
  3. a hat or cap with no less than fifty percent of the exterior consisting of solid fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink material and visible from all directions.

Bag Limits


Resident and Nonresident hunters may take one bear by gun or bow each license year. Bear tags cannot be consigned like Deer Management Permits.

In the Southern Zone, you may not shoot a cub or a bear that should be known to be a cub, shoot any bear from a group of bears, or shoot or take a bear from its den.


The number of deer a hunter may take depends upon the licenses and privileges purchased. If a licensed hunter has the proper tags, they are permitted to shoot more than one deer in a day. Here is a description of the tags received with each license type. Refer to the chart below for a description of how each tag can be used.

If you purchase:

  1. Hunting License --
    • You will receive a Regular Season Deer Tag.
  2. Muzzleloading or Bowhunting Privilege*--
    • You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Deer Tag.
  3. Muzzleloading and Bowhunting Privilege*--
    • You will receive one Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Deer Tag and one Bow/Mz Season Antlerless Deer Tag, both of which may be used in either season.

* A hunting license must be purchased to be eligible for Bowhunting and Muzzleloading Privileges.

Deer Tag Types and Privileges

Deer Tag Types and Privileges
Tag Type Valid For Can be used during
Regular Season Deer Tag Antlered Deer Only

Antlered or Antlerless
  1. During the regular season in Westchester Co. and during any season in Suffolk Co.
  2. In Areas restricted to bowhunting only (WMUs 4J and 8C)
  3. During late season (with bow or muzzleloading privilege)
  4. by Junior Hunters during the Youth Deer Hunt
  5. by hunters with a non-ambulatory permit
Regular Seasons
  • Northern Zone
  • Southern Zone
Late Seasons
  • Bowhunting (with Bow Privilege)
  • Muzzleloading (with Muzzleloading Privilege)

Youth Big Game Hunt - Columbus Day Weekend

Not Valid During the September Antlerless Season

Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Deer Tag Antlered or Antlerless Deer
Cannot be used for Antlerless deer during muzzleloading seasons in certain Northern Zone WMUs that are for Antlered Deer only

Bowhunting or Muzzleloading seasons only (including the regular season in Westchester County and the regular and special firearms seasons in Suffolk County), corresponding to the privileges purchased.

Not Valid During Regular Season, Youth Hunt, or September Antlerless Season
except: Junior Bowhunters may use the Bow/Mz Either Sex tag during the Bowhunting and Regular Seasons.

Bow/Mz Season Antlerless Deer Tag Antlerless Deer Only
Cannot be used during muzzleloading seasons in certain Northern Zone WMUs that are for Antlered Deer only

Bowhunting or Muzzleloading seasons only (including the regular season in Westchester County and the regular and special firearms seasons in Suffolk County), corresponding to the privileges purchased.

Not Valid During Regular Season, Youth Hunt, or September Antlerless Season
except: Junior Bowhunters may use the Bow/Mz Antlerless Only tag during the Bowhunting and Regular Seasons.

Deer Management Permit Antlerless Deer Only
Valid only for the WMU specified on the DMP
Valid during all deer hunting seasons (with appropriate privileges).

Deer Management Permits

Hunters may apply for Deer Management Permits (DMPs) at all license issuing outlets, by phone, by mail or via the internet when you purchase your hunting license (see Buy A Sporting License for license issuance information) by October 1. For more information on DMPs see our Deer Management Permit Page. DMPs are the only hunting tag that is transferrable from one hunter to another. Hunters can receive and use up to two transferred DMPs in addition to any DMPs they were originally issued. See Consignment of DMPs for details.

Manner of Taking

It is unlawful to:

  • Take big game while the deer or bear is in water.
  • Possess a firearm of any description when bowhunting or when accompanying a person bowhunting during special archery seasons.
  • Make, set, or use a salt lick on land inhabited by deer or bear.
  • Take big game with traps or snares.

It is unlawful to hunt big game with:

  • A firearm or bow aided by any artificial light or a laser that projects a beam toward the target.
  • An autoloading firearm with a capacity of more than 6 shells (one which requires that the trigger be pulled separately for each shot), except an autoloading pistol with a barrel length of less than 8 inches.
  • A firearm using rimfire ammunition.
  • A shotgun of less than 20 gauge or any shotgun loaded with shells other than those carrying a single projectile.
  • A bow with a draw weight less than 35 lbs.
  • Arrows with barbed broadheads; arrowheads less than 7/8 inches at the widest point or with less than 2 sharp cutting edges.
  • Dogs.
  • Aircraft of any kind.
  • Bait.
  • An air gun or air bow.

Tagging, Transporting, and Reporting

Deer and bear are in legal possession only when tagged with the appropriate portion of the hunting license, deer management permit, or other license provided for that purpose.


Here's what you must do immediately upon killing a deer or bear:

  1. Fill in all information on the carcass tag and report tag with ink that won't erase.
  2. Detach the carcass tag from the report tag. Once filled in, the tag may not be altered.
  3. Keep the report tag; you will need it when you report your deer or bear.
  4. The month and date must also be cut or marked in ink on the margin of the carcass tag.
  5. You do not need to attach the tag to the carcass while it is being dragged or physically carried from the place of kill to a camp or point where transportation is available.
  6. Once you get to the camp or vehicle, attach the tag to the deer or bear immediately.
  7. Keep the tag attached to the carcass until it is cut up and prepared for consumption.

After you have used your last deer tag, you may help others hunt deer. You must have your hunting license with you and you may not shoot or attempt to shoot a deer.


Deer and bear may be transported either inside or outside the vehicle.

  • A deer carcass with head and deer carcass tag attached may be transported with the taker in attendance.
  • If someone other than the taker is transporting the deer, an additional tag supplied by the taker bearing the names and addresses of the consignee and taker must be attached to the carcass.
  • All portions of deer or bear meat being transported by the taker shall be individually tagged and the tags shall include the name, address, hunting license number, the date that the portions were cut, and the signature of the taker. Packaged or boxed portions of venison need only one tag and must be labeled "venison" on the outside of the box. If someone other than the taker is transporting the portions, an additional tag signed by the taker with the names and addresses of the consignee and taker is required for each portion.
  • Non-resident hunters: If your home state prohibits the importation of whole deer carcasses from NY, you will need to follow the above guidelines for transportation of individual or packaged portions of deer meat while in New York State
  • A deer carcass minus the head may be transported as above, but evidence of the sex of the deer must be intact. The deer carcass tag must be affixed to the carcass, and a tag supplied by the taker must also be attached showing the name and address of the taxidermist where the head was sent.
  • Heads of male deer may be transported to a taxidermist only if a tag supplied by the taker is attached bearing the taker's signature, address, hunting license number, number of points on each antler and the name and address of the taxidermist.
  • The head of a doe with antlers that are 3 inches or more can be removed for mounting. Follow the same procedure that you would use for a buck you are having mounted. (See above.)


Deer or Bear -- Hunters who harvest a deer or bear are required by law to report their take within 7 days via the DECALS Online Harvest Reporting System or by calling 1-866-426-3778 (1-866-GAMERPT). It will be helpful to have your deer or bear report tag with you when making this call. You will be asked for information from this tag during the report call. See our Reporting your deer, bear, or turkey take for further reporting details.

Hunters who harvest a bear in New York are asked record the dressed weight of the bear and to submit a premolar tooth or part of the lower jaw of the bear for DEC to determine the age of the bear (see Bear Tooth Collection). A collection packet including a postage paid return jaw envelope and information explaining collection will be mailed to each hunter that reports a bear. There are many cooperating taxidermists within New York that can remove and submit teeth, so check with your taxidermist. Generally, taxidermists do not use teeth or the lower jaw for their mounts. All successful hunters are still required to report their bear harvest even if a taxidermist submits samples on their behalf.


Bowhunting opportunities include both the bowhunting and regular seasons for deer and bear, early bear seasons, and the early antlerless deer season in September.

  • Hunters must possess a current bowhunting or junior bowhunting privilege to participate during the bowhunting seasons.
  • The bowhunting privilege is not required to hunt with a bow during regular seasons, but hunters must possess proof of eligibility (either a valid bowhunter education certificate or prior bowhunting license).
  • Bow/Mz either-sex or antlerless-only tags may not be used during the regular seasons except by junior bowhunters or in WMUs 1C and 3S.
  • In WMUs 4J and 8C, only bows may be used to take deer during the regular and bowhunting seasons.
  • Suffolk (WMU 1C) and Westchester counties (WMU 3S) have separate regular seasons restricted to bows for taking deer (either sex).
  • See Legal Implement Descriptions for definitions of a legal bow.

Barbed Broadheads Prohibited for Big Game

Barbed broadheads are illegal for hunting big game. A barbed broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees. A notch at the base of the blade extending no more than 2 millimeters from the shaft shall not be considered a barb. Broadhead examples on the right compare one that is barbed to three that are legal. Broadheads with retractable blades are legal. Broadheads with 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.

Illustration of which barbed broadheads are legal.


Muzzleloading firearms may be used during the muzzleloader and regular seasons for deer and bear, the early bear seasons, the early antlerless deer season in September, and during the January Firearms season in Suffolk County.

All hunters participating in the muzzleloading season must follow these requirements in addition to the other regulations in this guide.

  • Hunters must possess a current muzzleloading privilege to participate during the muzzleloader seasons.
  • The muzzleloader privilege is not needed for hunters to use a muzzleloading firearm during the regular seasons.
  • Muzzleloaders may not be used in WMUs 3S, 4J, or 8C, and may only be used in WMU 1C during the January Firearms season.
  • Bow/Muzz either-sex or antlerless-only tags may not be used during the regular seasons except by junior bowhunters or in WMUs 1C and 3S.
  • Hunters shall not have in their possession, or be accompanied by a person who has in his or her possession, a bow or firearm other than the legal muzzleloading firearm.
  • Double-barreled muzzleloaders or percussion cap revolvers may not be used during the special muzzleloading seasons.
  • See Legal Implement Descriptions for definitions of legal muzzleloading firearms.
  • Transport unloaded muzzleloaders legally within a motor vehicle*

* 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.

Long Island Opportunities

Deer hunting from October-December is bowhunting only. All hunting on state land requires a DEC permit. During the January firearms season, shotgun and muzzleloader are the only legal implements, and a special permit is required. For exact dates and permit information, send a self-addressed envelope to Deer Info, NYS DEC, SUNY Bldg. 40, Stony Brook, NY 11790-2356 or visit our Long Island Hunting Page.

Small Game

Big game hunters who wish to hunt Small Game species may do so with a current hunting license. When hunting bobcat, remember that bobcat pelts must be tagged according to procedures described under Pelt Sealing.

Sale of Deer or Bear Meat Prohibited

It is unlawful to sell deer or bear flesh. Other than flesh, the parts from legally taken and reported deer and bear may be sold only if tagged prior to sale. Tag shall be provided by the hunter or the buyer and include the hunter's license number, date of birth, signature, printed name and the town and county location of kill.

Possession and Sale of Bear Gall Bladders and Bile

Bear gallbladders and bile shall not be possessed or sold unless a valid bear tag (original or copy of bear carcass tag) is attached. A new law now also requires taxidermists to keep records of all bear gallbladders and bile received or sold.

Legally Defined Areas for Big Game Hunting

Northern - Southern Zone Line:

A line separating the Northern and Southern Zone portions of New York State described as follows: a line commencing at a point at the north shore of the Salmon river and its junction with Lake Ontario and extending easterly along the north shore of that river to the village of Pulaski, thence southerly along Route 11 to its intersection with Route 49 in the village of Central Square, thence easterly along Route 49 to its junction with Route 365 in the city of Rome, thence easterly along Route 365 to its junction with Route 28 in the village of Trenton, thence easterly along Route 28 to its junction with Route 29 in the village of Middleville, thence easterly along Route 29 to its junction with Route 4, thence northerly along Route 4 to its junction with Route 22, thence northerly and westerly along Route 22 to the eastern shore of South Bay on Lake Champlain in the village of Whitehall, thence northerly along the eastern shore of South Bay to the New York-Vermont boundary.

Closed Areas:

The following closed areas are specific portions of the state where the taking of deer and bear is prohibited by the Environmental Conservation Law. This section does not include areas covered by town laws, local ordinances or posting by landowners.

City of Binghamton

Erie County-Area around Buffalo: bounded by Tonawanda Creek from East Branch Niagara River to Rt. 78 to Greiner Rd. to Rt. 268 to Rt. 5 to Ransom Rd. to Rt. 33 to Rt. 78 to Rt. 20 to Rt. 20A to Lake Erie.

Herkimer County-Area along Big Moose Lake: bounded by Judson Rd. from Herkimer-Hamilton County line to Higby Rd. to Big Moose Rd. to Martin Rd. and along it to its eastern end and then to the lake shore and back (starting westerly) along the shore to Herkimer-Hamilton County line and along it to Judson Rd.

Herkimer and Hamilton Counties-Area bounded by Rt. 28 from Old Forge to Inlet and by South Shore Rd. from Inlet to Old Forge.

Nassau County-All of Nassau County.

New York City-All of the city.