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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 on General Hunting Regulations.

General Regulations

  • You may not use a rifle or handgun to hunt pheasant or migratory game birds. See Turkey Hunting for more information on turkeys.
  • See Migratory Game Birds for additional information on migratory game birds.
  • Air guns (see General Hunting Regulations) may be used to hunt squirrels, rabbits, hares, ruffed grouse, furbearers that may be hunted (e.g., raccoons and coyotes) and unprotected species (see General Hunting Regulations). 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 is the snapping turtle. You may not harvest, take, or possess any other turtle species at any time.

The final diamondback terrapin season was April 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018, with licenses expiring June 4, 2018. You may no longer take or possess diamondback terrapins.

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.

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.ny.gov.

Reptile and Amphibian Hunting Seasons

Frogs

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

 

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/

 

Hunters: You Can Help Combat the Illegal Wildlife Trade

One of the biggest threats to New York’s turtles is illegal collection. What to look for: people with bags poking around wetlands and streams; unmarked traps in wetlands (a trap set for legitimate purposes will be clearly labeled); sheets of metal/plywood laid out on the ground to attract reptiles; cars with collection equipment like nets, containers, pillowcases visible inside; unattended backpacks/bags left in the woods along a trail or road. If you see or hear about suspicious behavior that may be connected to poaching call DEC Law Enforcement – 1-844-DEC-ECOS. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has an anonymous tip line – 1-844-FWS-TIPS. For more visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/lawEnforcement/report-wildlife-crimes.php.

 

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.

Training

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.

Control

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.