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General License Information

Mandatory Hunter Education

A hunter education course is required for persons who cannot provide proof that they have ever possessed a hunting license. You must be at least 11 years of age to take this class. The general course is a minimum seven hours in length. Once the course is complete, the individual must have the completed education certificate added to their sportsman profile. This can be done anywhere licenses are sold or by calling 1-866-933-2257. DEC honors hunter education certificates and sporting licenses from all other states and countries.

Mandatory Bowhunter Education

Hunters wishing to bowhunt for big game must present either:

  1. Proof that he or she successfully completed an approved bowhunter education course; (Note: Approved courses are International Bowhunter Education Program Courses or an equivalent course. If in doubt, call toll free — 1-888-HUNT-ED2) OR
  2. Proof that he or she previously held a NYS bowhunting license or stamp issued in 1980 or later; if proof is from prior to 1980, he/she must take an additional 7-hour minimum bowhunter education course.

    Mandatory Crossbow Requirement

    Hunters wishing to use a crossbow must complete qualifications in the safe use of hunting with a crossbow and responsible crossbow hunting practices.

    Residency

    To qualify for a resident license, a person must live in New York State for more than 30 days immediately preceding the date of application. Land ownership in New York does not make you a resident. Residency is that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home (regardless of where temporarily located), such as where a person is registered to vote. If under 18, the residence of parents or legal guardian shall be deemed such person’s residence.

    Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in New York and full-time college students in residence in the state during the school year (proof required) qualify for annual resident licenses.

    Minimum Hunting Age

    Minors under the age of 12 may not obtain a hunting license or hunt wildlife.

    License Year

    Licenses and permits are valid from September 1 through August 31.

    License Responsibilities

    • A license or tag is not transferable and may be used only by the person to whom issued (except for Deer Management Permits.
    • It is not legal to possess another person’s license while hunting.
    • A license to hunt, trap or fish does not give the holder any right to go on private property without permission of the landowner.
    • You can legally purchase and possess only one hunting license per year.
    • Your license must be carried on your person when hunting or trapping.
    • It is illegal to refuse to show your license on demand to a law enforcement officer or the owner, lessee or person in control of the lands (or their designees) while on their property.
    • Make sure that your license has all the correct information. Carefully check it immediately after receipt. If you discover an error, have it corrected as soon as possible.
    • Do NOT heat laminate your license. High temperatures will destroy the tags and turn them black. If tags are destroyed, there is a fee for replacement.

Back Tags

Must be visibly displayed on the middle of your back while hunting, except in the Northern Zone and Catskill Park.

Hunting License Exceptions

All residents must have a valid hunting license in their possession except:

  • Resident owners primarily engaged in farming, lessees and members of their immediate families do not need a hunting license when hunting small game on farm lands they are occupying and cultivating.
  • Native Americans living on a reservation do not need a hunting license while hunting on reservation lands.

Free Licenses/Patriot Licenses

Free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses are available to members of the Shinnecock and Poospatuck tribes and members of the Six Nations residing on reservations in the state. They must be obtained from some tribal councils or DEC headquarters in Albany (518) 402-8843.

Free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses are also available to NYS residents who have the appropriate Sportsman Education and are active service members of the NYS Guard, US Reserve Forces or certain members of the US Armed Forces. For more detailed information, visit our website or call (518) 402-8843.

Lost Licenses

A current year lost license may be replaced at any license-issuing outlet at a cost of $5 for a license panel. Big game carcass tag sets or turkey carcass tag sets may be replaced at a cost of $10. There is no charge to replace a lost backtag.

Deer Hunting Privileges and Tags

Resident hunter licenses

  1. Hunting: You will receive a Regular Season Deer Tag.
  2. Muzzleloading privilege:* You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag.
  3. Junior bowhunting or bowhunting privilege:* You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag.

Non-resident hunters

  1. Non-resident hunting: You will receive a Regular Season Deer Tag.
  2. Non-resident bowhunting or non-resident junior bowhunting:* You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag.
  3. Non-resident muzzleloading:* You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag.

* Residents and Non-residents must purchase a hunting license to be eligible for Bowhunting and Muzzleloading privileges. If you purchase both bowhunting and muzzleloading privileges, you will receive one Bow/Mz Either Sex Deer Tag and one Bow/Mz Antlerless Deer Tag. Both tags may be used in either season.

Special Licenses for Hunters with Disabilities

Non-ambulatory hunter permit

This permit allows qualified hunters to shoot a firearm from a motorized vehicle (including an off-road vehicle) that has the motor turned off and that is completely off the highway right-of-way.

To qualify for a Non-Ambulatory Hunter Permit, a person must be physically unable to move about except with the use of a mechanized aid such as a wheelchair.

Modified archer permit

This permit allows qualified people to hunt big or small game with a legal bow that is equipped with a device to hold it in a drawn and cocked position. This permit does not allow the use of a crossbow.

To qualify for a Modified Archer Permit, a person must be permanently physically unable to draw and hold a legal bow.

Modified Crossbow Permit

This permit allows qualified people to hunt big or small game during bowhunting season with a crossbow that has been specifically modified with a device that only allows it to be discharged (fired) by means of a breath tube. This permit does not allow the use of an unmodified crossbow.

To qualify for a Modified Crossbow Permit, a person must be permanently physically unable to hold or draw a legal bow or to fire a legal bow that has been modified to hold and release the string.

If a person can pull the trigger on a gun, he or she will not qualify for a Modified Crossbow Permit.

For more information on these permits, write the NYS DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752, email speciallicenses@dec.ny.gov or call (518) 402-8985. The application process takes time; write or call well before you intend to hunt.

Licenses, Privileges and Permits

Type

Age or Special Qualifier

Price

Hunting (Ages 16+)

Privileges: Hunt small game species with gun, bow or crossbow. Hunt deer or bear with gun, muzzleloader, bow (with proof of bow education or a bow privilege), or crossbow during the regular season, or hunt with shotgun or muzzleloader during the January firearms season (permit required) in Suffolk County (WMU 1C). You may hunt frogs with a valid Hunting or Fishing license.

Qualifications: Hunter Education Certificate OR previous hunting license. Certificates to possess firearms do not qualify.

Note: Those less than 18 years of age who are hunting big game for the first time as a holder of a hunting license must be accompanied for the entire season by a parent or legal guardian, or a person 18 years of age or older designated in writing (see permission form) with at least one year’s experience hunting bear or deer. Accompanist must have a current hunting license and meet all requirements.

16–69 (NYS Resident)

$22

70+ (NYS Resident)

$5

Military Disabled1

$5

Patriot2

FREE

Native American3

FREE

16+ (Non-Resident)

$100

Junior Hunting (Ages 12–15)

12–15 (NYS Resident)

$5

12–15 (Non-Resident)

$5

Privileges:

  • Ages 12–13: Hunt small game species with gun or bow during appropriate seasons when accompanied* by a parent, legal guardian, or person 21 years of age or older with written permission from parent or guardian (see permission form).
  • Ages 14–15: Hunt small game with gun, bow, or crossbow when accompanied* by a parent, legal guardian or person 18 years of age or older with written permission from parent/guardian. Hunt deer or bear with a gun, bow (with proof of bow education or a bow privilege) or crossbow when accompanied* by a parent, legal guardian or “youth mentor” 21 years of age or older designated in writing (see permission form).

* Accompanist must have a current hunting license and meet all requirements.

Qualifications: Hunter Education Certificate OR previous hunting license (certificates to possess firearms do not qualify). Must be accompanied by parent/legal guardian to purchase. First-time applicants must show proof of age (birth certificate or passport). Junior hunters do not need a Federal Duck Stamp but are required to register in NY’s Harvest Information Program (www.NY-HIP.com) to hunt migratory game birds.

Bowhunting Privilege (Ages 16+)

Privileges: Hunt deer and bear with a bow during bowhunting seasons.

Qualifications: Current year NYS hunting license, PLUS acceptable Bowhunter Education Certificate, OR NYS Bowhunting Stamp issued in 1980 or later, OR NYS Junior Bowhunting License issued 1980 or later.

Note: To hunt deer or bear with a bow during the regular season, hunter must possess both a valid hunting license and either a current bowhunting privilege or a valid Bowhunter Education Certificate. This includes Westchester and Suffolk counties.

16–69 (NYS Resident)

$15

70+ (NYS Resident)

FREE

Military Disabled1

FREE

Patriot2

$15

Native American3

FREE

16+ (Non-Resident)

$30

Junior Bowhunting (Ages 12–15)

12–15 (NYS Resident)

$4

12–15 (Non-Resident)

$4

Privileges:

  • Ages 12–13: Hunt deer and bear with a bow during the bowhunting season or the regular season when accompanied* by a parent, legal guardian, or a “youth mentor” 21 years or older and designated in writing (see permission form).
  • Ages 14–15: Hunt deer and bear with a bow during the bowhunting season and the regular season when accompanied* by a parent, legal guardian or “youth mentor” 18 years of age or older designated in writing (see permission form). Youth hunter will receive a deer of either sex tag for use in the regular season, instead of a Regular season buck tag.

* Accompanist must have a current hunting license and meet all requirements as specified.

Qualifications: Current year NYS hunting license, PLUS acceptable Bowhunter Education OR previous Junior Bowhunting License. Must be accompanied by parent/legal guardian to purchase.

Muzzleloader Privilege (Ages 14+)

Privileges: Hunt deer and bear with a muzzleloading firearm during muzzleloading season, and the January special firearms season in Suffolk County (WMU 1C). Hunt deer and bear with a crossbow.

Qualifications: You must possess a current year NYS hunting license.

14–69 (NYS Resident)

$15

70+ (NYS Resident)

FREE

Military Disabled1

FREE

Patriot2

$15

Native American3

FREE

14+ (Non-Resident)

$30

Deer Management Permit Application (Ages 12+)

Privileges: Application for up to two antlerless deer tags issued through a random computer selection process. Tags are valid for hunting antlerless deer only (both antlers less than 3″ long) in a specified Wildlife Management Unit. See DMP information. Application deadline is October 1 annually.

Qualifications: Must hold a current year NYS hunting license to apply and pay a non-refundable $10 application fee. Fee is waived for hunters 12–15 years of age and holders of Lifetime (Sportsman) Licenses purchased prior to October 1, 2009.

12–15 (NYS Resident)

FREE

16+ (NYS Resident)

$10

Military Disabled1

$10

Patriot2

$10

Native American3

$10

12–15 (Non-Resident)

FREE

16+ (Non-Resident)

$10

Turkey Permit (Ages 12+)

Privileges: Hunt turkey during fall and spring turkey seasons. To hunt turkey, all hunters must possess a turkey permit. There are no exceptions.

Qualifications: Current year NYS hunting license. Turkey tags are included with a Lifetime License (formerly Lifetime Sportsman).

12+ (NYS Resident)

$10

Military Disabled1

$10

Patriot2

$10

Native American3

$10

12+ (Non-Resident)

$20

Trapping

Privileges: Set traps for species during their appropriate seasons.

Qualifications: Trapper Education Certificate or previous trapping license.

12–15 (NYS Resident)

$5

16–69 (NYS Resident)

$20

70+ (NYS Resident)

$5

Military Disabled1

$5

Patriot2

FREE

Native American3

FREE

12–15 (Non-Resident)

$5

16+ (Non-Resident)

$275

Residency: To receive NYS resident pricing on annual licenses, a person must live in New York State for more than 30 days immediately preceding the date of application. Proof is required (e.g., NYS Driver License, NYS Non-Driver ID, Voter Registration card. Proof must contain a valid NYS address). Landownership alone does not qualify. Residency is that place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home, such as where a person is registered to vote. If less than 18 years of age, the residence of parent or legal guardian shall be deemed such person’s residence. Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in New York and full-time college students in residence in the state during the school year (proof required) qualify for annual resident licenses.

1 Military Disabled: Permanent status — must provide a letter from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stating the disability is “permanent” and rated at a 40% or greater service-connected disability. Once permanent eligibility is determined, it will stay in your customer profile. Annual Status — must provide a letter ANNUALLY from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stating the disability is service connected and rated at 40% or more. The letter must be dated in the current year. Note: The first purchase of either a Hunting, Fishing or Trapping license within a calendar year will cost $5. Subsequent purchases of these license types will be free for qualifying customers.

2Patriot: Free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses are available to NYS residents who have the appropriate hunting or trapping education and are active members of the NYS National Guard, US Reserve Forces or certain members of the US Armed Forces. For more detailed information, visit our website or call (518) 402-8843.

3Native American: Free hunting, fishing and trapping licenses are available to members of the Shinnecock and Poospatuck tribes and members of the Six Nations residing on reservations whole or partially in New York State. Licenses must be obtained from participating tribal councils or DEC headquarters in Albany (518) 402-8843.

Lifetime Licenses and Tags for Young Hunters

Young hunters who hold a lifetime hunting license and wish to receive their tags must first take the appropriate hunter safety training course. A copy of the certificate(s) must be sent to the DEC License Sales Unit (see address above) before their tags can be fulfilled. Young hunters should take the appropriate training course well in advance of the season to allow adequate time for their tags to be mailed. Tags cannot be obtained by contacting your local license-issuing agent.

When purchasing a lifetime license for a child, the purchaser must bring proof of the child’s age (e.g., birth certificate or passport) and a copy of the parent’s proof of residency.

Lifetime Sporting Licenses

The following Lifetime Licenses are available to New York State residents only and may be purchased at all license-issuing outlets throughout New York State.

Applicants must prove NYS residency for one year prior to application (proofs are the same as annual licenses with the exception of the one-year requirement).

For additional information and clarification on Lifetime License sales, contact our License Sales Unit, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4790, call 518-402-8843, or visit our website www.dec.ny.gov.

Lifetime License Holders should expect to receive their annual carcass tags in the mail by no later than Sept. 15 annually. License Issuing Agents will replace it free of charge until Nov. 1 annually. After Nov. 1, there will be a charge up to $15. If you hold your permanent ID card, you will only have to replace your carcass tags at a fee of $10.

Lifetime License (Sportsman)
(combined hunting and fishing privileges,
also includes turkey permits):

For a person age 0–4

$380

For a person age 5–11

$535

For a person age 12–69

$765

For a person age 70 or older

$65

Other Lifetime Licenses/Privileges

Hunting License

$535

Fishing License (age 0–69)

$460

Fishing License (age 70 and older)

$65

Trapping License

$395

Bowhunting

$235

Muzzleloading

$235

Stamps / Donations

Type

Age or Special Qualifier

Price

Habitat & Access Stamp

Donations are used to create or improve fish and wildlife habitat or improve access to those resources for recreation or educational activities.

Any

$5

Venison Donation

Help feed the hungry by supporting NY’s venison donation program.

Any

$1 or more

Federal Duck Stamp

Available at most post offices and some sporting goods stores.

16+

$25

Privileges: Hunt migratory waterfowl. It is not needed for gallinules, coot, crows, rails, woodcock or snipe. All migratory game bird hunters, including junior hunters, must register with the Harvest Information Program by calling toll free 1-888-427-5447 or registering online at: www.ny-hip.com

Qualifications: Validated by holder’s signature on the face of the stamp. Hunter must also possess a current year NYS hunting license.

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Sportsman Education

All first-time hunters, bowhunters and trappers must pass one or more courses before they can purchase a license in New York. Trained volunteer instructors certified by DEC teach safe and responsible outdoor practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation.

Beginning in 2016, all Sportsman Education Courses require the completion of homework prior to attending the course. Proof of the completed homework must be brought to the course led by an instructor. The homework may take several hours to complete, so one should not begin the work the night before the course.

There are a few simple ways to obtain the study materials to complete the homework requirement:

  • Download the free manual and worksheet OR
  • Obtain the manual and worksheet through the guidelines of the course announcement OR
  • Complete the online homework (fee) and print the voucher to bring to the course.

Visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/
7860.html
for more information on materials, including a list of courses.

There are NO “online-only” courses. All courses have an in-person field day. All courses are free of charge, but space may be limited. As hunting seasons approach, many classes fill quickly. SIGN UP EARLY!

General Hunting Regulations

The following are general hunting regulations. Specific regulations for various game species are in the Small Game, Big Game and Trapping sections of this booklet.

Definitions

Air gun—a firearm that uses spring or compressed air (not gunpowder) to propel a single projectile that is .17 caliber or larger and produces a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second. You may use a smooth or rifled bore.

Bow—includes long (stick), compound, or recurve bow.

Crossbow—consists of a bow, a string, and either compound or recurve limbs with minimum width of 17 inches (tip of limbs, uncocked), mounted on a stock. The stock shall have a trigger with a working safety that holds the string and limbs under tension until released. It shall have a minimum overall length from the butt of the stock to the front of the limbs of 24 inches and be able to launch a minimum 14-inch arrow/bolt, not including the legal arrowhead. It shall have a draw weight of 100 to 200 pounds. Optical sights are allowed on crossbows.

Firearm—all guns, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders and BB and pellet guns.

Handgun—is any pistol or revolver intended to be aimed and fired with one hand and having a barrel length not exceeding 16 inches.

To hunt—means to pursue, shoot, kill or capture (other than trap) wildlife and includes all lesser acts that disturb or worry wildlife, whether or not they result in taking. Hunting also includes all acts to assist another person in taking wildlife.

Motor vehicle—means every vehicle or device operated by any power other than muscle power including but not limited to automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, trailers, motorboats, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, whether operated on or off public highways.

Muzzleloading firearm—is a firearm loaded through the muzzle, shooting a single projectile and having a minimum bore of .44 inch.

Public highway—means any road maintained by a state, county or town. A private road is one maintained by a person or corporation.

Rifle—is a firearm with a barrel length of 16 inches or more with rifling in the barrel that uses metallic cartridges.

Shotgun—is a firearm with a barrel length of 18 inches or more that uses shells that are non-metallic except for the base.

To take—means to pursue, shoot, hunt, kill, capture, trap, snare or net wildlife and game—and all lesser acts that disturb or worry wildlife—or to place or use any net or other device commonly used to take wildlife.

To trap—means to take, kill or capture wildlife with traps, deadfalls and other devices commonly used to take wildlife, including the shooting or killing of lawfully trapped animals. It also includes all related activities such as placing, setting, staking or checking traps or assisting another person with these activities.

Manner of Taking

It is illegal to take or hunt wildlife:

  • While in or on a motor vehicle (except by special permit)
  • With the aid of a vehicle’s lights
  • On or from any public road
  • With any firearm equipped with a silencer
  • With any firearm which continues to fire as long as the trigger is held back (an automatic firearm)
  • With any semi-automatic firearm with a capacity to hold more than 6 rounds, except:
    1. Firearms using .22 or .17 caliber rimfire ammunition, or
    2. Firearms altered to reduce their capacity to no more than 6 shells at one time in the magazine and chamber combined, or
    3. Autoloading pistols with a barrel length of less than eight inches
  • With a spear
  • With a bow equipped with any mechanical device which is attached to the bow (other than the bowstring) for drawing, holding or releasing the bowstring except for a person with a physical disability in possession of a Modified Longbow Authorization (compound bows are legal)
  • With a spear gun or modified crossbow except for a person with a physical disability in possession of a Modified Crossbow Permit
  • With an arrow with an explosive head or shaft.
  • With any device designed or intended to deliver drugs to an animal
  • With a crossbow if you are under 14 years old

Baiting—It is illegal to hunt with the aid of bait or over any baited area when hunting big game, upland game birds, turkey or waterfowl.

Fish—Crossbows may not be used to take carp or any other fish.

Artificial lights—It is illegal to hunt deer or bear with the aid of any artificial light including laser sights.

Spotlighting

You may use lights to observe wildlife under the following conditions:

  • You are not within 500 feet of a home or farm building, unless you have permission from the owner or lessee (when looking for deer or bear)
  • While in or on a motor vehicle and operating a light and no person has a firearm, bow, or crossbow unless:
    • the implement is taken down, or
    • the implement is securely fastened in a case, or
    • the implement is locked in the trunk of the vehicle, or
    • the implement is a handgun

For information on hunting furbearers at night.

Possession of Firearms and Crossbows

During the open season for deer, it is illegal to:

  • Possess shotgun shells loaded with slug or ball, unless holding a valid license (including carcass tags) or permit to take deer or bear, or
  • Possess a rifle larger than a .22-caliber rimfire in areas where rifles are banned for taking deer (Centerfire rifles less than .22-caliber and muzzleloading rifles are legal)

In Westchester County and on Long Island, it is illegal to use any rifle for hunting or to carry one afield. In Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties, it is illegal to use a crossbow to hunt wildlife.

In the Northern Zone, it is illegal to carry a rifle larger than . 22 rimfire or a shotgun loaded with slug, ball or buckshot afield if accompanied by a dog, except when coyote hunting.

Possession of handguns in New York requires a NYS Pistol Permit. New York does not recognize permits issued by other states.

Transportation of Firearms

A person may not transport or possess a shotgun, rifle or crossbow in or on a motor vehicle unless the firearm is unloaded in both chamber and magazine or the crossbow is unloaded or taken down. While legally hunting migratory game birds, a loaded firearm may be possessed in a motorboat not under power OR in a motorboat under power only while retrieving dead/crippled birds.

A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when the cap is off the nipple, the primer is removed, the primer powder is removed from the flintlock pan, or the battery is removed from an electric-fired muzzleloader.

A crossbow is considered unloaded when the arrow/bolt is removed and the crossbow is uncocked.

Discharge of Firearms, Crossbows and Bows

It is illegal to discharge a firearm, crossbow or bow:

  • So that the load or arrow/bolt passes over any part of a public highway
  • Within 500 feet for a firearm, 250 feet for a crossbow or 150 feet for a bow of any school, playground, or an occupied factory or church
  • Within 500 feet for a firearm, 250 feet for a crossbow or 150 feet for a bow of a dwelling, farm building or structure in occupation or use unless you own it, lease it, are an immediate member of the family, an employee, or have the owner’s consent

You may hunt waterfowl over water within 500 feet of a dwelling or public structure as long as neither are within 500 feet in the direction you are shooting.

Protected and Unprotected Wildlife

In New York State, nearly all species of wildlife are protected. Most species, including endangered species, songbirds, hawks and owls are fully protected and may not be taken. The few unprotected species include porcupine, red squirrel, woodchuck, chipmunk, English sparrow, starling, rock pigeon and monk parakeet. Unprotected species may be taken at any time without limit. However, a hunting license is required to hunt unprotected wildlife with a bow, crossbow or firearm.

Game species may be taken only during their open seasons and as summarized in this guide. Persons taking wildlife on licensed shooting preserves must comply with regulations governing those shooting preserves.

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Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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