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General License Information

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Mandatory Hunter Education

A hunter education course is required for persons who cannot provide proof that they have ever possessed a hunting license. The general course is a minimum 10 hours in length. DEC honors hunter education certificates and sporting licenses from all other states and countries. You must be at least 11 years of age to take this class.

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 bowhunting license or stamp issued in 1980 or later; if proof is from prior to 1980, he/she must take an additional 8 hour minimum bowhunter education course.

Mandatory Crossbow Training (new for this fall)

Hunters wishing to use a crossbow to hunt big game must complete training in the safe use of hunting with a crossbow and responsible crossbow hunting practices. See details.


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 October 1 through September 30. To hunt small game or big game prior to October 1, the previous year’s license is required. Previous year’s hunting licenses will be available at all license-issuing outlets until September 30.

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 big game or sportsman 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.

Back Tags

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

Small Game 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 small game hunting license when hunting 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 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 small/big game, fishing and trapping licenses are also available to NYS residents who have the appropriate Sportsmen Education and are active service members of the NYS Militia, 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.

Hunters with Disabilities

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

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 Longbow Authorization

New legislation has repealed the ‘Modified Archer Permit’ and replaced it with the ‘Modified Longbow Authorization.’ This authorization allows qualified sportsmen to hunt big or small game with a bow that is equipped with a mechanical device to hold it in a drawn and cocked position. This authorization does not allow the use of a crossbow.

To qualify for a Modified Longbow Authorization, a sportsman must be permanently or temporarily physically disabled and unable to draw and hold a bow. For more information write the address above or visit our website,

Modified Crossbow Permit

This permit allows qualified people to hunt big or small game 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.

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