Environmental Conservation Police Q&A
New York Hunting
Q: How do I report poaching or other suspected violations of fish & wildlife laws?
A: Call the DEC Police “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 any firearms on “SAFE” and pointed in a safe direction. 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: Can I borrow a tag from a friend or family to use on a deer, bear or turkey that I shot?
A: No, it is not legal to possess or use tags of another, except properly consigned deer management permits (DMPs or landowner DMAPs). Instructions on DMPs 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 the deer season is open, you cannot use a rifle larger than .22 caliber. You may never possess a rifle afield for hunting on Long Island or in Westchester County.
Q: If the trapping season is open, does that mean I can hunt for that species?
A: No. While hunting, the hunting rules apply; while trapping, the trapping rules apply. Seasons and other rules vary between hunting and trapping.
Q: I found a live coyote in a trap, what should I do?
A: Unless you own the trap or have permission, 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 motor 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 hunter orange while hunting deer or bear. There are no requirements for other hunting activities. Hunter orange 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: 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 rimfire rifle, provided the air gun is no smaller than .17 caliber and produces a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second.
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 a resident. 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 with the 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 circumstances that may permit this. Please 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 New York requires a NY Pistol Permit. NY does not recognize permits from other states.
Q: Can I shoot a deer at first light on opening day of deer season?
A: No. Many species have specific legal shooting hours. For deer and bear, it is from legal sunrise to sunset, NOT just when it’s light enough. The sunrise/sunset chart is at the back of this guide.
Q: May I transport an entire deer carcass into NY from Pennsylvania?
A: No. Chronic Wasting Disease regulations ban importation of whole carcasses and certain parts. More info is in the CWD pages of this guidebook.
Report Poachers and Polluters Hotline — 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267)