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Environmental Conservation Police Q&A

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

Q: I’m using an “app” that shows land owned by NY State – can I hunt on that land?

A: State lands are owned by DOT, SUNY, DEC, NY Parks, and others. It is your responsibility to check the rules for each property, as even some DEC lands are off limits to hunting.

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#, plus 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: Why can NY stores sell deer food and salt blocks when it is illegal to use them for hunting?

A: The law does not prohibit sale, it prohibits the use of deer food and salt blocks as 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. Ask your local ECO (Environmental Conservation Officers).

Q: Are deer urine scents legal in NY?

A: As of April 2018, yes. DEC recommends against urine use due to CWD concerns. As they are not meant to be ingested, these scents are not considered bait.

Q: What about food plots, aren’t they baiting?

A: The law exempts food plots as “areas established by standard agricultural production practices”, and would be considered lawful.

Q: Can I use a carcass tag from a friend or family member on a deer, bear or turkey that I shot?

A: No – it is unlawful to possess or use tags of another, except properly consigned deer management permits (DMPs or landowner DMAPs). DMP instructions can be found in this guide.

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 cannot use a center fire rifle of .22 caliber or larger. You may not possess rifles afield on Long Island or Westchester Co.

Q: If the trapping season is open, does that mean I can hunt for that species?

A: It depends on the season and species. Some furbearers may only be trapped, while some can also be hunted, and some both, but with different seasons.

Q: I found a live wild animal in a trap, what can I do?

A: Unless you own the trap, have permission (and are licensed to trap), it is illegal to release, dispatch or steal a trapped furbearer or tamper with legally set traps.

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: A crossbow must be decocked to be legally possessed in or on a motor vehicle. Simply removing the bolt does not meet the requirement. When 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: Who is required to wear “Hunter Orange” while hunting?

A: Junior hunters and their mentors are required to wear at least 250 inches of solid/patterned fluorescent orange/pink 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: I wounded a deer and heard there are trained dogs that can help me find it. How do I contact a handler?

A: DEC-licensed leashed tracking dog handlers may help you find the deer. They are volunteers and do not charge for their service. Visit www.deersearch.org for more information or call the ECO Dispatch Center.

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.

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. Without 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: May I hunt small game with an air gun?

A: You may use an air gun to hunt any 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: Yes, 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, consult 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 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: 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 hunt with a muzzleloader or crossbow?

A. There are a few exceptions that may permit this. Contact your local ECO, as it greatly depends on details specific to each individual.

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: Can I shoot a deer at first light on opening day of 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. Sunrise/set charts are available in this guide.

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.

Please contact your local Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) for answers to your specific questions.

Report Poachers and Polluters Hotline — 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267)

ECO Mark Klein investigated a suspect whose hunting privileges are revoked in 47 states as part of the International Wildlife Violator Compact. Convicted of shooting these bucks illegally, the man faces additional fines and revocations.

ECO George Wilbur responded to a call about an injured American kestrel fledgling that had fallen from its nesting place. He captured and transported it to a DEC-licensed rehabilitator and later released the bird during an educational event.

ECOs George Wilber and Nate Doig after a busy opening day gun season. These deer were seized for violations ranging from shooting 30 minutes early, shooting from a road, hunting with aid of bait, and failure to meet antler restrictions.

Lt. Ric Warner with one of two alligators captured by DEC on the Tioghnioga River. Releasing non-native species to the wild threatens native species and pose threats to the public. The “gators” now reside at a licensed educational facility.

ECO Kevin Holzle was on patrol opening day of Southern Zone regular season when he encountered this hunter with a buck of a lifetime. Knowing your local ECO and reporting violations is one way you can help bucks grow to this size.

Lt. Ric Warner assisted DEC Wildlife staff performing bear den surveys. The sow (mother) was tranquilized, blood samples and other biological testing performed, tags or tattoos applied and the family was tucked back in their den.