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Implement Descriptions For Big Game Hunting



At press time, legislation was pending that could effect the use of crossbows or rifles for big game hunting in certain counties of NY. Please check our website at: for the most up-to-date information.

The following describes implement requirements for Big Game Hunting. See map above to determine where each can be used.

Bow­—Long (stick), recurve or compound
bow with a draw weight greater than 35 lbs. A legal arrowhead is nonbarbed, has 2 or more cutting edges and is at least 78 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.

Muzzleloader—Firearm loaded through the muzzle, a minimum bore of .44 inches and shooting a single projectile. Scopes or fiber-optic sights may be used at any time. Double-barreled muzzleloaders and percussion cap revolvers are not legal during the special muzzleloading season. If you hunt with a single-shot muzzleloading pistol, you must have a New York State pistol permit.

Handgun—Any centerfire pistol or revolver. Barrel length may not exceed 16 inches. Note: Nonresidents may not use handguns to hunt in New York.

Shotgun—Must be 20 gauge or larger and fire a single projectile. Rifling in the barrel or choke is allowed.

Rifle—Any centerfire rifle.

It is illegal to hunt big game with:

  • A fully automatic firearm
  • A semi-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
  • Any rifle using rimfire ammunition
  • A firearm, crossbow or bow aided by any artificial light or a laser that projects a beam toward the target (use of illuminated reticle scopes, red dot scopes, or illuminated sight pins is allowed, provided no light is projected toward the target)
  • An air gun

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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