Big and small game hunting is underway

New York’s estimated 823,000 hunters and trappers are officially returning afield for recreational hunting and trapping across upstate New York, according to Joe Martens, the state’s commissioner of environmental conservation. 

Hunting and trapping are important management tools for several species, including deer, bear, beaver, and Canada geese, according to a release fro the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. A recent national survey estimated that hunter expenditures on equipment and trip-related expenses in New York totaled more than $1.5 billion in 2011.

In 2014, the “NY Open for Fishing and Hunting” plan will begin; it is meant to streamline sporting licenses and reduce fees. 

Big game

Bowhunting season opened in northern New York on Sept. 27 and the rest of upstate New York and Suffolk County on Oct. 1.  A special muzzleloader season in Northern New York opens on Oct. 19, followed by the regular firearms season that opens on Oct. 26.  Firearms seasons for deer in the Southern Zone of New York will open on Nov. 16.

New York’s second annual Youth Deer Hunt will occur in upstate New York over the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 12 to 14). During this hunt, 14- and 15-year old junior hunters may take a deer of either sex with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult mentor.

Bear hunting season opened in the Adirondacks and the Champlain Valley on Sept. 14, and continues along with deer hunting seasons into early December.  In portions of the Southern Zone, including the Catskills, Hudson Valley, and Southern Tier, bear hunting seasons opened on Oct. 1 and are generally the same as deer season, except for the Youth Hunt (which is for deer only).

Small game mammals

Many people begin their hunting experience with small game, such as squirrels, for which the season opened on Sept. 1, or cottontail rabbits, which opened upstate on Oct. 1; hunting seasons for squirrels and rabbits will open Nov. 1 on Long Island. 

Coyote hunting season opened across all of upstate New York on Oct. 1, while seasons for other furbearing species (raccoon, fox, bobcat, and others) generally open on Oct. 25, when trapping seasons open as well.  The areas open for bobcat hunting and trapping were expanded this year, and a special permit is required to take bobcats in those areas.  Those interested in participating in the special permit program can contact a local DEC Wildlife office.

Upland game birds

Hunting seasons for a variety of upland game birds, including wild turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse, and woodcock opened Oct. 1 in most of eastern New York (excluding Long Island; and in northern New York, grouse season opened on Sept. 20).  Wild turkey and pheasant seasons open on Oct. 19 in western New York.

A special Youth Pheasant Hunt was held in eastern New York Oct 5 and 6, and will be held on Oct. 12 and 13 in western New York.  On Long Island, the Youth Pheasant Hunt will be held on Oct. 26 and 27, followed by the regular season opening on Nov. 1.  Pheasant stocking locations for public hunting are listed on the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/93322.html.

Waterfowl

September Canada goose seasons have come and gone, but waterfowl hunters have plenty of opportunities to look forward to.  Duck hunting seasons are set for five different hunting zones, with the earliest beginning on Oct. 5 in the Northeastern Zone.

Youth Waterfowl Hunts were held in late September for several zones. Canada goose seasons will re-open in most of upstate New York on Oct. 26.

Mentoring

Adult hunters and trappers are encouraged to pass along their traditions and become a mentor for a junior hunter or trapper. The junior hunter and trapper mentoring program allows 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt big game with a firearm and 12- to 15-year-olds to hunt big game with a bow while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter.

Unlicensed youth less than 12 years of age may also accompany and assist a licensed and experienced adult trapper. More details about these opportunities are available in this year's Hunting and Trapping Laws and Regulations Guide and on the DEC website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/46245.html.

Hunter safety

All new hunters or trappers planning to go afield this upcoming hunting and trapping season mush first complete a mandatory hunter or trapper education course before they can obtain the appropriate sporting license. Training in safe handling of firearms and hunting is a legal requirement for anyone hunting in New York. 

Courses are free to take and are taught by DEC-certified instructors. Although primarily offered for first-time hunters or trappers, anyone is welcome to attend a sportsman-education course, whether it is for a refresher or an interest of the topic. For more on basic hunting safety rules, go online to http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9186.html.  

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