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For Release: Wednesday, September 20, 2017

DEC Announces Start of Small Game Hunting Seasons

Wild Turkey, Waterfowl, Pheasant Seasons Open Oct. 1

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that several small game hunting seasons open October 1. In addition, special youth-only hunting seasons for pheasants and waterfowl open prior to the start of the regular season.

"Hunting is a proud tradition in New York State, and this year we are offering more opportunities for the next generation of hunters to learn about this sport," Commissioner Seggos said. "The pursuit of small game is typically the first introduction to hunting for many people, and our youth-only hunting seasons are an excellent way to connect people to the natural world and teach them to become safe, ethical, and responsible hunters. I encourage experienced hunters across New York to bring a novice hunter afield this fall."

Season dates, bag limits, and other hunting regulations can be found in the New York Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, which can be obtained from a license issuing agent and on the DEC website (see links below).

Wild Turkey Hunting

In 2015, DEC updated the fall turkey hunting season structure in response to declines in turkey populations and to ensure that harvest opportunities are sustainable and in line with current environmental conditions. With good production in summer 2015 followed by two mild winters, there are more birds on the landscape than in previous years. However, this increase in numbers may be offset by poor reproductive success this summer due to above-average rainfall in the spring.

Hunters should also keep in mind that in areas with good hard and soft mast production, turkeys do not have to roam far and wide in search of food, so hunters may have to work harder to locate a flock.

Season dates for fall 2017:

  • October 1 - 14, in the Northern Zone
  • October 21 - November 3, in the Southern Zone
  • November 18 - December 1, in Suffolk County, Long Island

The statewide, season bag limit is one bird of either sex.

Waterfowl Hunting and Youth Waterfowl Days

Hunting seasons for waterfowl, ducks, geese, and brant, begin in early October in many parts of the state, but there are also special opportunities for junior hunters 12 to 15 years old prior to the regular season. Junior hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter, and both the junior hunter and adult must be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Adult hunters must also have a federal migratory bird stamp. Youth waterfowl days this fall are:

  • September 23 and 24, Northeast and Lake Champlain zones
  • October 14 and 15, Western Zone
  • November 11 and 12, Long Island Zone

Pheasant Hunting

Approximately 30,000 adult pheasants will be released on lands open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season. The pheasant hunting season begins:

  • October 1, northern and eastern portions of New York
  • October 21, central and western portions of the state
  • November 1, Long Island

Since 2007, DEC has offered a special youth-only season to provide junior hunters the opportunity to hunt pheasants during the weekend prior to the regular pheasant hunting season. In northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is September 23 and 24. In western New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is October 14 and 15, and on Long Island it is October 28 and 29. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter is allowed to carry a firearm and harvest birds on these dates.

All release sites for pheasants are provided by state-funded programs and are open to public hunting. Pheasants will be released on state-owned lands prior to and during the fall hunting season, and at a number of sites on New York City Watershed lands thanks to a partnership with New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Pheasant hunting opportunities have also been augmented by private landowners that have opened their land to public hunting. DEC is grateful for their help in providing high quality hunting experiences for New York's sportsmen and sportswomen. A list of statewide pheasant release sites and sites receiving birds for the youth-only pheasant hunt weekends can be found on DEC's website.

Squirrel, Ruffed Grouse, Rabbit, and Hare

The hunting season for squirrels began September 1, and for ruffed grouse in the Northern Zone the season began September 20. Seasons for ruffed grouse, rabbit, and hare begin October 1, in many regions. Dates and season maps can be found on the DEC website and in the annual Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

National Hunting and Fishing Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day is celebrated on September 23 to promote outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and target shooting.

Reynolds Game Farm, in Ithaca, NY, will be hosting festivities from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., including demonstrations on gun safety, the Cornell Raptor Program, DEC K-9 unit, fly fishing, and more.

There are many activities across the state. National Hunting and Fishing Day details are available on the DEC's website.

Citizen Science

"Citizen science" efforts such as the Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log, Bow Hunter Sighting Log, and the Furbearer Sighting Survey provide hunters with the opportunity to partner with DEC to monitor game species. To learn more about how to participate in these efforts, visit DEC's website Citizen Science: Wildlife Observation Data Collection.

Additional hunting and wildlife observation information for the following links can be found on DEC's website:

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