Small Game Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

Small game includes upland and migratory game birds, small game mammals, certain furbearers, and reptiles and amphibians.

Please read general hunting regulations first.

General Regulations

  • You may not use a rifle or handgun to hunt pheasant or migratory game birds.
  • Air guns may be used to hunt squirrels, rabbits, hares, ruffed grouse, and furbearers that may be hunted (e.g., raccoons and coyotes) and unprotected species. Air guns may not be used to hunt waterfowl, pheasant, wild turkey, or big game.
  • Crossbows may not be used to take waterfowl or other migratory game birds. Crossbows may not be possessed afield in the Northern Zone when hunting small game (except coyotes) with the aid of a dog or when accompanied by a dog. Crossbows may be used to take any other small game or upland game birds during their respective open seasons except in Westchester and Suffolk counties.
  • In Wildlife Management Unit 2A, hunting is permitted by falconry only.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Frogs—“Frogs” are defined as eastern spadefoot toad, eastern American toad, Fowler’s toad, northern cricket frog, northern gray treefrog, northern spring peeper, western chorus frog, bullfrog, green frog, mink frog, wood frog, northern leopard frog, southern leopard frog, and pickerel frog.

A fishing or hunting license is required to take frogs with a spear, club, hook, or by hand. A hunting license is required to take frogs with a gun, bow or crossbow.

Snakes, Lizards, and Salamanders—You may not harvest, take, or possess any native snakes, lizards, or salamanders at any time.

Turtles—The only turtle species for which there is an open hunting season are the snapping turtle and the diamondback terrapin. You may not harvest, take, or possess any other turtle species at any time.

Snapping turtles—A hunting license is required to take snapping turtles. The only legal implement for taking snapping turtles is a gun, bow or crossbow.

If you choose to eat snapping turtles, you should carefully trim all fat and discard fat, liver and eggs prior to cooking to reduce exposure to contaminants. For information on these health advisories, call 1-800-458-1158 or visit the website http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/fish/health_advisories/

Diamondback terrapin—A valid diamondback terrapin license is required to take diamondback terrapin. Application for, and purchase of, a diamondback terrapin license must be made by mail or in person at NYSDEC, SUNY Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409.

Diamondback terrapin may only be taken using dip nets, hand capture, seine nets, and traps. The traps must be capable of capturing diamondback terrapin alive, and the trap must be marked with a tag bearing the name and address of the licensee and must be checked daily.

Possession of a diamondback terrapin on the waters or shores of New York State during the closed season is prohibited. Diamondback terrapin legally taken during the open season may be sold throughout the year only if they were killed and processed for consumption prior to May 5.

Falconry Seasons

To hunt small game species with trained raptors, you must possess a Falconry License and a hunting license. Licensed falconers may take small game from October 1 through March 31 in any area of the state open to hunting these species EXCEPT:

  • Waterfowl may be taken only during the regular firearm hunting season or during a specific period outside of the firearms seasons as specified by DEC.
  • Common crow may only be taken during the open firearms season.
  • A licensed falconer may take both male and female pheasants anywhere in the state when hunting under a Falconry License.

For more information on falconry, contact the DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752 or call 518-402-8985.

Possession and Release of Game Birds

It is illegal to possess or release migratory game birds and upland game birds without the proper license(s) from DEC. Before you take possession of any captive-reared or wild game birds, contact the DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752 or call 518-402-8985 or e-mail speciallicenses@

DEC is Looking for “Citizen Scientists” to Help Monitor Wildlife Populations

There are several surveys where hunters can record their wildlife observations while afield. Visit the DEC website to learn more about opportunities to help us track deer, turkeys, grouse, and more!

  • Bowhunter Sighting Log
  • Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log
  • Grouse Drumming Survey
  • Summer Turkey Sighting Survey
  • Winter Turkey Flock Survey
  • Cottontail Survey
  • Furbearer Observations


Small Game Hunting Seasons


Open Season June 15–Sept. 30
Open Area All wildlife management units except that (1) leopard
frogs shall not be taken in Wildlife Management Units 1A,
1C, or 2A; and (2) northern cricket frogs and eastern
spadefoot toads shall not be taken in any area of the state.
Size Limit None
Daily Bag None
Season Bag None
Hunting Hours Any time of the day or night, except that no person shall use a gun to take frogs when hunting at night (sunset to sunrise).

Snapping Turtles

Open Season July 15–Sept. 30
Open Area Statewide
Size Limit The upper shell (carapace) must be 12 inches or longer, measured in a straight line.
Daily Bag 5
Season Bag 30
Hunting Hours Any time of the day or night

Diamondback Terrapin

Open Season Aug. 1–April 30
Open Area All of Long Island, New York City, and the lower Hudson River north to the Tappan Zee Bridge
Size Limit The upper shell (carapace) must measure at least 4 inches, but may not be greater than 7 inches in length.
Daily Bag None
Season Bag None
Hunting Hours Any time of the day or night

Use of Hunting Dogs

Dogs may be used to hunt small game, except:

  • You may not use dogs to hunt wild turkey in the spring.
  • In the Northern Zone, if you are hunting with a dog, or accompanied by a dog, you may not possess a rifle larger than .22-caliber rimfire or possess a shotgun loaded with slug, ball or buckshot unless you are coyote hunting with a dog. In the Northern Zone, crossbows may not be possessed afield when hunting small game (except coyotes) with the aid of a dog or when accompanied by a dog.


You may train dogs on raccoon, fox, coyote, and bobcat from July 1 through April 15. You may train dogs on other small game only from August 15 through April 15. You may train dogs at any time on lands you own, lease, or have written permission to use, if you are not training on wild game. You may only use blank ammunition when training dogs, except during an open season.


Hunting dogs should remain under control of the hunter or trainer, especially on lands inhabited by deer. Do not allow your dogs to pursue game on any posted land without the landowner’s permission. Do not shoot dogs; report stray dogs to a local Environmental Conservation Officer or your local animal control officer.


The New England cottontail was a candidate for the federal Endangered Species Act, but as a result of ongoing conservation activities, it was determined that this was not necessary. It’s important that we continue to collect information on this species and conduct conservation activities and you can help! If you hunt or own property in WMUs 3F, 3G, 3N, 3S, 4C, 4K, 4L, 4Z, 4U, 4T, or 4Y and would like to assist with survey efforts or habitat management, please call 518-402-8870 or email wildlife@dec.ny.gov.


If you would like to raise and release pheasants to increase pheasant hunting
opportunities, please e-mail us at wildlife@dec.ny.gov and type “pheasants” in the subject line or call (607) 273-2768. For a list of hunting areas where pheasants are released, contact a DEC regional wildlife office or visit our website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9349.html

Youth Pheasant Hunt

Junior hunters (ages 12–15) must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter. Only the junior hunter may carry a firearm.

Attention Grouse Hunters

You may not shoot woodcock unless you have registered in the Harvest Information Program.
To register, go to www.NY-HIP.com or call 1-888-427-5447.


DEC is seeking grouse hunters to participate in a survey to help monitor ruffed grouse populations. For more information, please e-mail us at wildlife@dec.ny.gov and type “grouse log” in the subject line, call (518) 402-8883, or visit www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9351.html