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Big Game Hunting

Please read General Hunting Regulations first.

Maps Showing Season Dates

Hunting Hours

Big game hunting hours are sunrise to sunset. Sunday hunting is allowed in all areas of New York. For hunting in state parks, confirm regulations with the park before hunting.

Legally Antlered Deer

A legally antlered deer must have at least one antler that is three inches or longer. Special regulations apply in the Antler Restriction areas. See Antler Restriction Program for details.

Defining “Early” And “Late” Seasons For Deer And Bear

When you see the term “early” muzzleloader or bowhunting season, it means before the regular season for that particular zone. “Late” means after the regular season for that zone.

Manner of Taking

You may use decoys, calls and attractant scents to hunt big game. It is unlawful to:

  • Take big game while the deer or bear is in water
  • Possess a firearm of any description when bowhunting or accompanying a person bowhunting during special bowhunting seasons
  • Make, set or use salt licks or other attractants, whether block, liquid or powder that contain ANY amount of salt, upon lands inhabited by deer or bear at any time of year

It is unlawful to hunt big game with:

  • Dogs or aircraft of any kind
  • The aid of a pre-established bait pile.

Long Island Opportunities

Deer hunting from October through December is bowhunting only. All hunting on state land requires a DEC permit. During the January firearms season, shotgun and muzzleloading firearms are the only legal hunting implements, and a special permit is required. For exact dates and permit information, send a self-addressed envelope to Deer Info, NYS DEC, SUNY, 50 Circle Rd. , Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409 or visit our website,

Prohibited Sale of Deer or Bear Meat

It is unlawful to sell deer or bear flesh. Other than flesh, the parts from legally taken and reported bear may be sold only if tagged prior to sale. A tag shall be provided by the hunter or the buyer and include the hunter’s license number, date of birth, signature, printed name and the town and county location of kill.

Tagging, Transporting and Reporting

Deer and bear are in legal possession only when tagged with the appropriate portion of the big game license, deer management permit or other license provided for that purpose.


Here’s what you must do immediately upon killing a deer or bear:

  1. Fill in ALL information on the CORRECT carcass tag with ink that won’t erase.
  2. On the reverse side of the tag, cut or mark both the month and the date of kill in the margin of the tag. Also, add your SIGNATURE.
  3. Once filled in, the tag may not be altered.
  4. Find the CORRECT Doc # on the Report Panel and add the date of kill. Save this panel as you will need it later when you report your harvest.
  5. You do not need to attach the tag to your harvest while it is being dragged or physically carried from the place of kill to a camp or point where transportation is available.
  6. Once you get to the camp or vehicle, attach the tag to the carcass immediately.
  7. Keep the tag attached to the carcass until it is cut up and prepared for consumption.
  8. Remember to REPORT your harvest.

After you have used your last deer tag, you may help others hunt deer. You may not carry a firearm or bow, and you must have your hunting license.


Deer and bear may be transported either inside or outside the vehicle.

  • A deer carcass with head and deer carcass tag attached may be transported with the taker in attendance.
  • If someone other than the taker is transporting the deer or bear, the taker must attach an additional tag to the carcass and include the names and addresses of both the taker and the transporter. The tag may be handwritten in ink or typed on any paper.
  • All portions of deer or bear meat being transported by the taker shall be individually tagged and the tags shall include the name, address, big game DOC #, the date that the portions were cut, and the signature of the taker. Packaged or boxed portions of venison need only one tag and must be labeled “venison” on the outside of the box. If someone other than the taker is transporting the portions, an additional tag signed by the taker with the names and addresses of the consignee and taker are required for each portion.
  • Non-resident hunters: If your home state prohibits the importation of whole deer carcasses from New York, you will need to follow the above guidelines for transportation of individual or packaged portions of deer meat while in New York State.
  • A deer carcass minus the head may be transported as above, but evidence of the sex of the deer must be intact. The deer carcass tag must be affixed to the carcass, and a tag supplied by the taker must also be attached showing the name and address of the taxidermist where the head was sent.
  • Heads of male deer may be transported to a taxidermist only if a tag supplied by the taker is attached bearing the taker’s signature, address, big game DOC #, number of points on each antler and the name and address of the taxidermist.
  • The head of a doe with antlers that are 3 inches or more can be removed for mounting. Follow the same procedure that you would use for a buck you are having mounted (see above).


  • Deer may only be taken as shown on the map on Deer Hunting Seasons.
  • Bear may only be taken as shown on the map on Bear.

All Areas

All hunters participating in the muzzleloading season must follow these requirements in addition to the other regulations in this guide.

  • Each resident hunter must have purchased a current-year muzzleloading privilege with his/her big game license.
  • Each nonresident hunter must have a current-year Muzzleloading License.
  • Hunters shall not have in their possession, or be accompanied by a person who has in his or her possession, a bow or firearm other than the legal muzzleloading firearm.


Bowhunting opportunities include both the regular and bowhunting seasons. Residents may use a bow to take legally antlered deer and bear during the regular season provided the taker possesses both a valid big game license and either a current bowhunting privilege or a valid bowhunter education certificate. Residents may take deer of either sex during the bowhunting season provided the taker possesses a big game license and bowhunting privilege, or a Junior Bowhunting License. Nonresidents should refer to General Hunting Regulations for information on hunting with a bow during regular and bowhunting seasons.

A bow may also be used to fill a deer management permit during any season in which bows may be used. In WMUs 4J and 8C only, bows may be used to take deer (either sex) during the regular and bowhunting seasons. Suffolk (WMU 1C) and Westchester counties (WMU 3S) have separate regular seasons restricted to bows for taking deer (either sex).

Barbed Broadheads

Barbed broadheads are illegal for hunting big game. A barbed broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees. Broadheads with mechanical blades are legal if the blades DO NOT form a barb or hook when the arrow is pulled from the flesh of a deer or bear. (See graphic below).




Fixed Blade



Mechanical Blade

(shown in position of being withdrawn from an animal)


Blades pivot forward
(no longer barbed)


Blades do not pivot
(remain barbed)

Boning Out Deer

Some hunters who take a deer in remote areas may wish to bone out the deer and pack out the meat. This is lawful but you must retain the carcass tag with the boned out meat.

Meat Unfit For Consumption

If a deer, bear or turkey is found to be unfit for human consumption, a special permit may be issued that allows the hunter to take another deer or bear provided the season is still open. A permit will not be issued if meat is unfit due to hunter neglect. Call a wildlife or law enforcement office listed on Important Numbers.

Moose In New York

Moose are protected in New York and cannot be hunted. There is an estimated population of 800 moose occupying the northern zone of the state.

DEC has created a Moose Photo Gallery for photos taken of New York moose. Instructions for submitting a photo are included on the following moose webpage:

Future Big Game Season Dates


Early Bear

The first Saturday after the second
Monday in September through the day
immediately preceding the early muzzleloading season.

Bowhunting—Deer and Bear

September 27 through the Friday immediately preceding the regular season. (Only unfilled prior year big game tags can be used before October 1).

Early Muzzleloading—Deer and Bear

7 consecutive days beginning on the 1st Saturday after Columbus Day.

Regular—Deer and Bear

44 consecutive days beginning on the 2nd Saturday after Columbus Day.

Late Bow and Muzzleloading—Deer

7 consecutive days immediately following the regular season.


Early Bowhunting—Deer and Bear

October 1 through the Friday immediately preceding regular season.

Regular—Deer and Bear

23 days beginning the third Saturday of November.

Late Bow and Muzzleloading—Deer and Bear

9 consecutive days immediately following the regular season.

Westchester County

Regular—Deer and Bear (bowhunting only)

October 1 through December 31.


Regular—Deer (bowhunting only)

October 1 through December 31.

Special Firearms Season—Deer

The first Monday following the first Saturday in January, through the last weekday in January, Monday–Friday only.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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