Waterfowl Seasons And Bag Limits Were Not Certain When This Guide Went To Press.
To find out what the regulations are, or are likely to be, go to: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28503.html.
DEC’s annual waterfowl regulations guide can be downloaded from the website in September, after federal regulations are final. A waterfowl hunting guide containing season dates and bag limits will also be available from license issuing agents in late September.
What Is A “Migratory Game Bird?”
Under state and federal laws and regulations, all of the following are considered migratory game birds in New York:
- All wild ducks, mergansers, geese, and brant (“waterfowl”)
- All coot, rails, and gallinules (moorhens)
- Woodcock and snipe
Crows are not considered migratory game birds under federal regulations, but most of New York’s migratory game bird hunting regulations apply to crows. You should assume they are the same except where differences are noted.
Mourning doves are considered migratory game birds under federal regulations, but they are not defined as such under New York state law so no hunting season has been established for this species (see: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/59626.html).
Migratory Game Bird Seasons and Bag Limits
Most migratory game bird hunting regulations are set by the federal government in late summer, so ALL OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS SECTION IS TENTATIVE. Due to this uncertainty, most migratory bird hunting season dates or bag limits are not included in this guide. Final season dates and bag limits will be announced in late August, and a separate brochure with all of the migratory game bird hunting regulations will be available from the DEC website and most license-issuing agents in September. If there are changes in these regulations, announcements will be made in DEC news releases statewide. All migratory game bird hunters must register annually with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Call 1-888-427-5447 or register online at
To hunt any migratory game bird in New York, you need a hunting license that provides you with small game hunting privileges (unless you qualify to hunt without a license).
To hunt any migratory game bird in New York except crows, you must register in New York’s Harvest Information Program (HIP). This applies to all hunters, including junior hunters and people who qualify to hunt without a license. To register, go to: www.NY-HIP.com or call 1-888-427-5447. HIP registration is valid from July 1 through June 30 annually (not the same as your hunting license!).
If you are 16 years or older and you hunt waterfowl, then you also need a federal migratory game bird hunting stamp (“duck stamp”). The stamp is not needed to hunt coot, rails, gallinules, woodcock, snipe or crows. You may buy a duck stamp at most post offices and many sporting goods stores. They may also be ordered on-line (www.duckstamp.com) or by phone (1-800-852-4897).
Consumption of Wild Waterfowl
Every year, tens of thousands of people consume wild waterfowl harvested in New York. There are many ways to cook and enjoy waterfowl, but it’s important to remember that some birds may pick up chemical contaminants from the environment. Mergansers are fish-eating birds that tend to be the most heavily contaminated waterfowl and should not be eaten. For all other wild waterfowl, the New York State Department of Health recommends that you remove the skin and fat before cooking, and eat no more than two meals per month.
Waterfowl Hunting in Populated Areas
Some excellent waterfowl hunting opportunities occur in shoreline areas of New York that are becoming more populated and developed. Waterfowl hunters have special privileges in New York, but please consider the possible concerns that nearby homeowners may have about noise, safety or invasion of privacy before you go afield. Avoiding such conflicts will help ensure that waterfowl hunting remains an accepted tradition in fast-developing shoreline areas.
DEC, in cooperation with the South Shore Waterfowlers Association (SSWA) has produced “A Pocket Reference for Police Officers and Waterfowl Hunters” that summarizes the State laws that pertain to waterfowl hunting in general and includes a “code of ethics” for waterfowl hunters to help ensure that waterfowl hunting remains a viable recreational opportunity in New York. For a copy, call (518) 402-8883.
Special Snow Goose Harvest Program
Waterfowl hunters in New York will have a special opportunity to harvest snow geese in most areas of the state from late winter through April 15, 2013. This additional opportunity is offered because of concerns about impacts that snow geese are having on natural ecosystems. For more information, including harvest regulations for 2013, go to: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html.