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Pheasant Hunting

Female pheasant hunter with her bird dog and pheasants

Pheasant hunting in New York has a long history and is highly valued by hunters throughout the state. The first hunting season for pheasants was designated in 1908 and DEC remains committed to providing recreational opportunity for hunters. Today, the wild pheasant population is at an all-time low attributed to habitat loss and land use changes. More information can be found in the 2010 Pheasant Management Plan (PDF).

Despite the decline in wild pheasant abundance, hunters can still enjoy days afield pursuing state-stocked pheasants that have been raised at the Richard E. Reynolds game farm in Ithaca. Annually, over 30,000 adult pheasants are released just prior to and during the fall pheasant hunting season.

The goal of the pheasant propagation program is not to restore wild pheasant populations, but to provide upland game bird hunting opportunity. Releases occur across the state on over 200 public lands and private lands that are open to public hunting. We strive to maintain pheasant hunting opportunity in all regions of the state.

DEC has developed an interactive map detailing state and private land release sites.

DEC's pheasant propagation program is able to provide opportunity throughout the state thanks to the willingness of many private landowners and other state, county, and towns that allow hunters to access their lands. Please respect the land and any special rules on public and private pheasant release sites. For additional information on stocking sites please contact your regional wildlife office or by e-mailing subject line Pheasant Release Sites.

Where to Find Pheasants

  • Most pheasant hunting takes place in open agricultural fields associated with grain farming or on abandoned farmland covered in aster, goldenrod, and other early successional plants.
  • Abandoned farmlands make great release sites for stocking game farm-reared pheasants.
  • Pheasants are not a woodland species. They prefer to roost, and forage in grassland areas among rows of corn, wheat, oats, and an occasional cattail marsh used for winter cover.

View an interactive map showing pheasant stocking locations in New York State.

Helpful Tips

  • You must possess a hunting license to hunt pheasants. Thoroughly read the Department's Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide to become familiar with pheasant hunting regulations.
  • Do your pre-season 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 and respecting the land will ensure you have a place to hunt next year.
  • Successful hunters employ trained bird dogs to help them locate pheasants and retrieve downed game.
  • 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.
Young girl with her hunting dogs

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.

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 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.

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