Environmental Conservation Police Q & A
New York Hunting
Q: Can I shoot deer at first light during deer season?
A: No. For deer and bear hunting, legal shooting is between the minute of local sunrise to the minute of local sunset, NOT just when it’s light enough. This applies to all implements – firearms, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows. Sunrise/set charts are in this guide.
Q: What are NY “Hunter Orange” requirements?
A: Junior hunters and mentors are required to
wear at least 250 inches of fluorescent orange/pink solid/patterned while hunting deer or bear. There are no requirements for other hunting activities. Orange/pink makes it easier for others to see you in thick brush or at longer ranges.
Q. What basic steps should I follow when an ECO approaches me while I am afield hunting?
A: Most importantly, keep firearms pointed in a safe direction with the safety “ON”. Do not try to unload them, which can lead to accidents.
Q. If I don’t have permission, how far must I be from a house to discharge an implement?
A: You must be a minimum of 150 feet to discharge a bow, 250 feet for crossbow and 500 feet for firearms including muzzleloaders. Local laws or ordinances on firearm discharges may also apply.
Q: What documentation must I carry when hunting?
A: You must carry your hunting license, plus deer/bear/turkey carcass tags and/or a “duck” stamp with HIP# and wear a back tag (where required). “Hunting license” means the printed license listing privileges or a lifetime license card or NY driver license “Adventure” hunting icon. Special hunts or hunt areas may require additional paperwork.
Q: Can I tag a deer, bear or turkey that I shot using a tag from a friend or family member?
A: No – it is unlawful to possess or use tags of another, except properly consigned deer management permits (DMPs or landowner DMAPs). DMP instructions are found in this guide.
Q. Can our hunting party “share” Deer Management Permits (DMPs) on a deer drive”?
A: Only the person possessing a properly consigned DMP tag may take an antlerless deer, regardless of how many have the tag consigned to them. See the DMP consignment rules for more info.
Q: Why can NY stores sell deer bait and salt blocks when it is illegal to use them for hunting?
A: The law does not prohibit the sale, it prohibits the use of bait to aid in hunting certain species. If the material is placed where the animal may ingest it, it is likely to be considered baiting. Use of these products may also help spread diseases.
Q: Can I shoot or hunt while sitting on my ATV, even if it is turned off and not on a road?
A: No. It is illegal to possess a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle, including ATVs, UTVs, cars, trucks, tractors, snowmobiles. An exception is in boats, but it only applies when hunting migratory waterfowl.
Q: Why aren’t food plots considered bait?
A: The law exempts food plots as “areas established by standard agricultural production practices”, and they are not illegal to hunt over.
Q: Can I hunt small game with a rifle in counties where deer hunting with a rifle is prohibited?
A: Yes, but if any deer season is open, you can only use a rimfire rifle .22 caliber or smaller or centerfire rifles less than .22 caliber. You may not possess rifles afield on Long Island or Westchester Co.
Q: If the trapping season is open, can I also hunt for that species?
A: It depends on the season and species. Some furbearers may only be trapped, while some can also be hunted, but with different seasons. Coyote is a good example.
Q: I found a live wild animal in a trap, what can I do?
A: Unless you own the trap or have permission from the trap owner (and are licensed to trap), it is illegal to release, dispatch or steal a trapped furbearer or tamper with legally set traps. If concerned, contact an ECO.
Q: After reporting my deer, transporting and cutting it up, what do I do with the carcass tag?
A: The tag stays with the carcass and is not needed after the deer is prepared for consumption. Your actions reflect on all sportsmen, so properly dispose of the entrails, carcass and hide.
Q: How can I transport a crossbow in a vehicle?
A: Simply removing the bolt does not meet the requirement. A crossbow must be decocked to be legally possessed in or on a motor vehicle. When legally using artificial lights on lands inhabited by deer, a crossbow must be taken down, securely fastened in a case or locked in the trunk.
Q: Can I hunt on land that my “app” shows is owned by NY State?
A: “State lands” are owned by DEC, DOT, SUNY, NY Parks, Thruway and others. It’s your responsibility to check the rules for each property, as even some DEC lands are off limits to hunting.
Q: I wounded a deer and heard there are trained dogs that can help me find it. What should I do?
A: DEC-licensed leashed tracking dog handlers may help you find the deer. They are volunteers and do not charge for their service. More info at “deersearch.org” or call the ECO Dispatch Center.
Q: May I hunt small game with an air gun?
A: You may use an air gun to hunt small game species that may legally be taken with a .22 caliber rim fire rifle, provided the air gun is no smaller than .17 caliber with a muzzle velocity of at least 600 f.p.s.
Q: May I take a child younger than 12 with me while hunting? What about a spouse?
A: A person of any age may accompany a hunter afield to observe, as long as they do not assist in the taking of wildlife, such as calling animals or actively participating in a deer drive. If unsure, call an ECO.
Q: I own a camp and property in New York, can I purchase a resident hunting license?
A: Residency is a fixed, permanent and principal home to which a person always intends to return. Simply owning land or paying taxes does not make one eligible for resident license fees. More information on residency is found in the front of this guide.
Q: Can I target shoot on DEC lands?
A: Many DEC state lands, including State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have specific rules – call ahead. You may not damage live trees and must remove all litter.
Q. Can a felon legally hunt with a muzzleloader?
A. Not without a specific court order that may permit this. Contact your local ECO, as it greatly depends on individual details.
Q: Can I carry a handgun while bowhunting deer/bear during the special bowhunting seasons?
A: No, you may not possess a firearm of any type while bowhunting during those seasons. Possession of a handgun in NY requires a NY Pistol Permit. NY does not recognize any permits from other states.
Q: May I transport an entire deer carcass into NY from another state?
A: Chronic Wasting Disease regulations ban importation of whole carcasses and certain parts, depending on the originating state. See the CWD pages of this guidebook.
Q: How do I report poaching or other suspected violations of fish & wildlife laws?
A: Call the “Report Poachers and Polluters” Hotline as soon as possible at 1-844-DEC-ECOS. (1-844-332-3267). You may file a complaint anonymously or keep your name confidential.
Please contact your local Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) for answers to your specific questions (see Environmental Conservation Officers).