Access to Hunting Areas
New York Hunting
The focus of this year’s Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide is “access and accessibility.” There is information throughout the guide on accessing waterfowl blinds, accessing private land for deer hunting, best practices for trapping on public and private lands, and access for hunters with disabilities. Enjoy!
Places to Hunt in New York
DECinfo Locator is an interactive map that includes DEC lands with public hunting access and other outdoor recreation information. Go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/109457.html.
For additional information about places to hunt in New York, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7844.html.
Always ASK the landowner for permission to hunt and trap on private land. If it were your land, how would you want a visitor to act?
- Be courteous — ASK permission well in advance.
- ASK what is permitted. What species can be hunted? Are tree stands allowed?
- ASK if friends can join you.
- Exercise safety—always!
- Thank the landowner.
Many landowners use “ASK permission” stickers on their signs which show the landowners’ willingness to allow access to their lands. Stickers are available for free from your local Regional Wildlife Office (see Important Numbers) or from DEC Central Office, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754. For more information on hunting on private lands, visit our website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7844.html.
Remember: Damaging bark or cutting trees, branches or plants is illegal without permission of the landowner.
Rights of way that cross private property, such as for power lines and railroads, are NOT public land. Trespassing on these areas without permission from the landowner is illegal.
FWMA cooperative areas
Through cooperative agreements under New York’s Fish and Wildlife Management Act (FWMA), Cooperative Hunting Areas provide access and management services to privately owned lands in order to increase public hunting opportunities. When using these areas, remember that you are a guest on private property. Littering and other abuses will only result in closure of many excellent hunting areas.
A word about liability
Whether or not the land is posted, New York State General Obligations Law protects landowners from liability for non-paying recreationists engaged in hunting, trapping and fishing on their property. Because of this protection, recreational liability lawsuits against rural landowners are uncommon. This protection does not apply in cases of willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against dangers.
For information on hunting and trapping opportunities and rules governing the use of state land, contact the regional office for the county where you would like to hunt or trap (see Important Numbers). Wildlife staff can provide information on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Cooperative Hunting Areas. DEC Forestry staff and Forest Rangers can provide details on state forest lands and forest preserve lands. In some instances, written permission or permits are required to use state lands. These are available from DEC regional offices during normal business hours.
Motorized access to state lands
DEC has designated routes on state forests, wildlife management areas, forest preserve lands and conservation easement lands for motor vehicle use by people with a qualifying mobility disability. For a list of these opportunities, along with information on how to obtain a motorized access permit, please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/2574.html.
Wildlife management areas
The Division of Fish and Wildlife manages about 187,000 acres of wildlife management areas (WMAs). These areas are located throughout the state and contain a variety of different types of habitat and wildlife. They are managed primarily for wildlife and wildlife-related public use.
WMAs have specific use regulations in addition to the general use regulations for state land. Hunting, trapping, and fishing are permitted, except as specifically restricted by posted notice.
On wildlife management areas, it is unlawful to:
- Camp without written permission
- Travel off-road by use of motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds, trail bikes, snowmobiles or any other motorized vehicle, except as specifically allowed by a permit or posted notice
- Remove, cut or willfully damage or destroy living vegetation of any kind
- Construct or place a permanent structure, blind, stand or platform (including placement of nails or other hardware into trees)
- Leave any personal property when leaving the area, including leaving tree stands overnight
- Enter property posted with No Trespassing signs, except with written permission from DEC
For further information on wildlife management areas, please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8295.html
Lands and forests
The Division of Lands and Forests manages nearly five million acres of land, located in almost every county of the state. From the remote locations of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains to the rolling hills of the western parts of the state and the forested areas on Long Island, a wide range of hunting and trapping opportunities await the outdoor recreationist.
Hunting and trapping are permitted in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves.
State-owned lands located within these preserves are designated “Forever Wild.” All state land rules and camping requirements apply to the preserves, as well as additional rules specific to certain areas. Contact the regional DEC office (see Important Numbers) of the county where you would like to hunt or trap for more information. For further information on Forest Preserve lands, please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4960.html
Conservation easements are tracts of privately owned property on which New York State has acquired certain public recreation rights. These rights are outlined in the easement document as well as in a recreation management plan jointly developed by the DEC and the landowner. Public hunting and trapping is allowed on many conservation easements, but due to the individual nature of each conservation easement, members of the public wishing to hunt or trap on a given easement property are strongly encouraged to contact a local DEC office (see Important Numbers) of the county where you would like to hunt or trap for details on how to properly access the property and the hunting and trapping regulations unique to the easement. For further information on DEC held Conservation Easements, please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/41156.html
State forest (reforestation land)
Outside the Adirondacks and Catskills, State Forest lands are the most common type of state lands. Many recreational activities can be pursued on these lands, including hunting and trapping.
In some instances, permits are required to camp overnight on undeveloped state forest lands. Unless specifically prohibited, groups of less than 10 people may camp on state forest lands (other than developed campgrounds and wildlife management areas) for three consecutive nights without a permit. To camp for four consecutive nights or more, a permit must be obtained. Groups of 10 or more people need a permit to camp on such lands for one night. Further information may be obtained from DEC regional offices for the county you want to camp in (see Important Numbers). For further information on State Forest Lands, please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/40672.html
Remember, it is unlawful to:
- Cut or injure trees (including construction of permanent tree stands, construction of natural blinds, clearing of shooting lanes around portable stands, placement of nails or other hardware into trees, or use of live trees as targets while sighting-in firearms).
- Store personal property. Tree stands or hunting blinds that do not injure a tree, and are properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting license number, may be placed during the appropriate hunting season, but must be removed at the end of the season.
- Erect, use or maintain a building or structure.
- Deposit or leave any litter or rubbish.
- Operate a motor vehicle, including an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), off maintained roads except where specifically allowed.
- Camp without a permit when a permit is required.
- Possess a rifle, shotgun or firearm in or upon buildings or grounds used for educational purposes (see Penal Law Section 265.01-a).
Many state parks offer waterfowl, small game and big game hunting. For more information, contact the appropriate DEC regional office (see Important Numbers) or visit the State Parks website (www.parks.ny.gov). Call each state park to find out specific hunting and access regulations. For a listing of state parks that allow deer hunting, visit the DEC website: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/88898.html
Other Areas to Hunt
- Finger Lakes National Forest (federal): Located east of Seneca Lake in Schuyler and Seneca counties. Small and big game hunting opportunities. Special hunting permits are not required.
- Fort Drum Military Base (federal): Wildlife Management Unit 6H, located in Jefferson and Lewis counties. Over half of the 107,000-acre U.S. Army military installation is open to the public for hunting and trapping. See the Fort Drum Fish and Wildlife Management Program website for more information: https://fortdrum.isportsman.net/ or call (315) 772-9303.
- Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (federal): Located at the north end of Cayuga Lake in Seneca County. Offers small game and waterfowl hunting opportunities. This area is also open for deer hunting on a controlled basis during both the bowhunting and regular seasons. Permits are required. When deer management permit use is allowed, WMU 8J permits are valid. For current information on seasons, permits, maps and regulations visit Montezuma’s website at: www.fws.gov/refuge/Montezuma/visit/visitor_activities.html
- Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (federal): Located east of Lockport in Genesee and Orleans counties. Offers small game and waterfowl hunting opportunities. This area is also open for deer hunting during both the bowhunting and regular seasons. For further information visit: www.fws.gov/refuge/iroquois/
- Long Island: For a brochure on areas to hunt and for access permits, write to
- Hunting Opportunities, NYS DEC
SUNY Stony Brook
50 Circle Rd.
Stony Brook, NY 11790-3404
- Hunting Opportunities, NYS DEC
- New York City Watershed Lands: The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) allows trapping, as well as deer, bear, turkey, and small game hunting on specially designated city water supply lands. Hunters and trappers must possess the appropriate, valid New York State sporting license and a valid access permit to hunt or trap on designated hunting and trapping areas on city water supply lands. For more information, including maps, go to: www1.nyc.gov/site/dep/recreation/hunting-trapping/page
DEC operates 52 public campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. Hunting is not permitted within these campgrounds, although some campgrounds allow camping during big game season. Unloaded firearms are allowed on public campgrounds only during the spring and fall hunting seasons for hunting. A valid hunting license is needed. Firearms cannot be discharged in the campground or day use facilities at any time. For more information on DEC’s campgrounds visit: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7825.html
Campgrounds outside the Forest Preserves are operated by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) (see State Parks below).
For all campgrounds, reservations can be made by calling 1-800-456-CAMP or online at https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com
For information on licensed professional guides in New York, contact NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, NY 12233-2560, call (518) 402-8838, or visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/30969.html.
“ASK Permission” stickers, a brochure explaining the program, Landowner Permission forms, and information about fish and wildlife conservation are available for free from DEC Regional Wildlife Offices or by writing:
NYSDEC, 625 Broadway,
Albany, NY 12233-4754
Native American Tribal Lands
Some tribal governments have made provisions for limited public hunting, trapping and fishing access, while others do not permit non-tribal members to hunt, trap or fish on their land. Check with the governing tribal office to determine the requirements for hunting, trapping and fishing within the reservation boundaries. A special permit is required.
Use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) is restricted on most state land.