Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

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.


12- and 13-year Olds Can Hunt Deer with a Firearm or Crossbow in Some Counties

The NYS Legislature adopted a temporary program through 2023 for young hunters in counties that choose to participate. See Junior Big Game Hunting for a map of the counties that are participating.

Holiday Deer Hunt

DEC extended the late bow and muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone to provide a Holiday Deer Hunt from December 26 - January 1. See Deer Hunting Seasons.

New Deer and Bear Hunting Changes

DEC adopted regulations creating new opportunities and requirements for big game hunters.

  • Extend daily hunting hours for deer or bear to 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.
  • Establish a 9-day season for antlerless deer in mid-September (9/11 - 9/19/2021) 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.
  • Restore antlerless harvest during the early muzzleloader season in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6F, 6J.
  • Simplify bear hunting season in the Adirondack region by extending regular season to cover the entire hunting period.
  • Fluorescent orange/pink required when hunting deer or bear with a firearm.

New Trapping Season Dates for Mink, Muskrat, and Beaver

DEC adopted regulations modifying season dates; see Trapping Season Maps for details.


WMU 4W Added to Early Bear Season

New this fall, DEC has expanded the Early Bear Season in the Southern Zone to include WMU 4W.

Rifles in Tompkins County

Legislation adopted in August allows hunters to use rifles for big game hunting in Tompkins County during the Regular Season. See Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas.

New Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

DEC announced the adoption of several changes to the state's migratory game bird hunting regulations. These changes are not reflected in the annual 2020-2021 hunting regulations guide, but they are in effect immediately.

  • Added two veteran and active military waterfowl hunting days in four of the five waterfowl zones. During the special season, military active duty and veterans can hunt migratory game birds. Daily bag limits are the same as the regular season (e.g., Canada goose bag limit in the west central is 2 per day). Military identification requirements can be found on the migratory game bird hunting regulations page.
  • Electronic duck stamps are now legal for the purposes of migratory game bird hunting. For more information on on electronic duck stamps, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website (leaves DEC website).
  • The licensed adult hunter serving as a mentor to a junior hunter participating in the special youth migratory game bird hunt days may not carry a firearm, longbow, or crossbow afield. The prohibition does not apply to other hunters in the party that are not mentoring the youth.
  • The special sea duck area boundary description for taking crippled waterfowl under power was simplified to include all tidal waters up to the first bridge.
  • Due to declines in the scaup population, the bag limit will be 1 scaup per day for 40 days and 2 scaup per day for 20 days.


Big Game Import Restrictions

Hunters are now prohibited from returning to New York with whole carcasses or intact heads of deer, elk, moose, or caribou that they harvested 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. For more information on these changes, please visit the Big Game Importation Restrictions page.

Mallard and Canada Goose Bag Limit and Season Length Changes

In response to a long-term decline in mallard breeding populations in the Atlantic Flyway and New York, the bag limit has been reduced from 4 (2 hens) per day to 2 (1 hen) per day. Similarly, Canada goose season lengths and bag limits in much of upstate New York have been reduced from a 50-day season and 3-bird bag limit to a 30-day season and 2-bird bag limit in response to declining migratory populations. For more information on these changes, please visit the Waterfowl & Migratory Game Bird Season page.

Rifles in Orleans and Broome Counties

New legislation made permanent provisions to use rifles for big game hunting in Orleans County and the portion of Broome County west of the Susquehanna River (except the City of Binghamton).


American Black Duck

After more than 30 years of a 1-bird daily bag limit for black ducks, duck hunters will have an opportunity for a 2-black duck daily bag limit in 2017.

Bobcat Hunting & Trapping

Hunters and trappers pursuing bobcats in the "Harvest Expansion Area" (HEA; Wildlife Management Units 3R, 3S, 4A, 4F, 4O, 5R, 6R, 6S, 7S, 8T, 8W, 8X, 8Y, 9J, 9K, 9M, 9N, 9P, 9R, 9S, 9T, 9W, 9X, and 9Y) are no longer required to obtain a special permit, complete a hunting/trapping log, or submit the skull/jaw of bobcats they harvest. Please note that hunters and trappers pursuing bobcats in the HEA must still have a hunting or trapping license and must have harvested bobcats pelt-sealed by DEC staff.

Reminder for Fisher Trapping Season

Last year, following completion of the New York State Fisher Management Plan, regulations were adopted to: (1) reduce the fisher (and marten) trapping season from 46 days to 30 days in select Adirondack Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in the Northern Zone; (2) establish a 6-day fisher trapping season in selected WMUs in Central/Western New York; and (3) require a free special permit for all fisher trapping.

Diamondback Terrapin

DEC has adopted a regulation permanently closing the diamondback terrapin season, effective May 1, 2018. The final diamondback terrapin season will be open from August 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018, with licenses expiring May 4, 2018.

Legislation Regarding Use of Rifles

New laws now allow use of rifles for big game hunting in Orleans and Broome counties (except the city of Binghamton) and made permanent the ability to use rifles for big game hunting in Genesee, Schenectady, and Seneca counties.


Revisions to Fisher Trapping Season

Regulations were recently adopted that will:

  • Reduce the fisher trapping season from 46 days to 30 days in selected Adirondack Wildlife Management Units (WMUs);
  • Establish a limited 6-day open trapping season (no bag limit) in selected WMUs in Central/Western New York to provide new opportunities for sustainable use of this natural resource;
  • Require licensed trappers who pursue fisher to obtain a free permit from their regional wildlife office.

For more details, see the Fisher page.

Rifles in Albany and Livingston Counties

Legislation has passed that will allow the use of rifles to hunt big game in Albany County for two more years, and to allow rifles to hunt big game in Livingston County permanently.

Updates to Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons

Regulations were recently adopted that will:

  • Allow junior hunters to take bear as well as deer during the youth firearms hunt;
  • Rescind an antlerless-only requirement established in 2015 during portions of the bow and muzzleloader season in some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs);
  • Reduce the take of antlerless deer in WMUs 6F and 6J by allowing hunters to only take antlered deer during the early muzzleloader season;
  • Clarify that bow/muzzleloader either-sex and antlerless-only deer tags may both be used during either bow or muzzleloader seasons by properly licensed hunters.

  • Contact for this Page
    Bureau of Wildlife
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-4754
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions