Environmental Conservation Police Q & A
Q: Can I use a carcass tag from a friend or family to put on a deer, bear, or turkey that I shot?
A: No — it is unlawful to possess or use tags of another person, except properly consigned Deer Management Permits (DMPs) or landowner DMAPs. See DMP tag transfer instructions.
Q: I’m using an app that shows land owned by NY State — can I hunt on that land?
A: State lands are owned by DEC, DOT, SUNY, NYS Parks, Thruway, and others. It’s your responsibility to check the rules for each property, as even some DEC lands are off-limits to hunting. You can always contact your local ECO to determine legality.
Q: What documentation must I carry when hunting?
A: You must carry your hunting license, plus carcass tags (deer, bear, turkey), any special permits (e.g., turkey permit), and a duck stamp with HIP# (if hunting migratory game birds), plus a back tag (where required). “Hunting license” means the printed license listing privileges or a lifetime license card or NY driver’s license with an “Adventure” hunting icon. You may also use your HuntFishNY app for proof of a hunting license, provided you still have your back tag (where required) and carcass tag(s). Crossbow hunters need to carry their hunter education certificate or the crossbow certificate. Special hunts or hunt areas may require additional paperwork.
Q: Why can NY stores sell deer bait and salt blocks when it is illegal to use them for hunting in NY?
A: The law and regulation do not prohibit sale, but they prohibit the use of bait to aid in hunting and feeding deer (and bear) at all times. If the material is placed where the animal may ingest it, it is likely to be considered baiting or feeding.
Q: Are deer urine scents legal in NY?
A: Yes, but DEC strongly urges hunters not to use natural deer urine products to protect NY deer from Chronic Wasting Disease. Hunters who want to use deer attractant scents should only use synthetic products.
Q: Why aren’t food plots considered feeding or baiting?
A: DEC regulations exempt wildlife food plots from feeding and baiting prohibitions as "areas established by standard agricultural production practices." Wildlife food plots do not concentrate deer in the same way as supplemental feed sites and do not entail the same risk of disease spread, behavioral changes, or localized ecological damage.
Q: Can I hunt small game with a rifle in counties where deer hunting with a rifle is prohibited?
A: Yes, but if any deer season is open, you cannot use a rifle larger than .22 caliber. You may not possess rifles afield on Long Island or in Westchester county.
Q: If the trapping season is open, can I hunt for that species?
A: It depends on the season and species. Some furbearers may only be trapped, while some can also be hunted, but with different seasons. Coyote is a good example of a species that can be hunted and trapped, but season dates for hunting and trapping this species are different, so be sure to check the guide before going afield.
Q: Are there exceptions to the 500' rule for discharge of a firearm?
A: You may discharge a firearm within 500' of an occupied dwelling or structure only under the following situations: 1) you own it, lease it, are an immediate member of the family, an employee, or have the owner's consent; 2) if you are hunting waterfowl over open water, provided there are no dwellings, public structures, or people within 500' of the direction you are shooting.
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. DEC strongly encourages all hunters to dispose of your carcass waste in a landfill as a best practice for minimizing disease risks.
Q. I shot an animal and it died on a neighboring property. Can I legally go retrieve it?
A: You must obtain permission from the property owner to retrieve the animal.
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 eligible for resident license fees.
Q. Can our hunting party share Deer Management Permits (DMPs) on a deer drive?
A: Only the person possessing the DMP may take an antlerless deer. DMPs may be consigned from one hunter to another, but this needs to happen before the deer is harvested. See the DMP consignment rules for more info.
Q: Can I target shoot on DEC lands?
A: Yes, on some DEC lands. Many DEC state lands, including State Forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have specific rules prohibiting target shooting in some or all areas — call ahead. If a portion of a DEC property is posted as being open to target shooting, you may not damage live trees and must remove all litter.
Q: Can junior hunters (12–15-year-old) hunt deer with a firearm?
A: 12- and 13-year-olds can hunt deer with a firearm only in counties that have opted into this opportunity. 14- and 15-year-olds can hunt deer with a firearm in any county open to deer hunting with a firearm. All junior hunters must be supervised by a licensed adult hunter. NYS law requires that the junior hunter and their mentor wear blaze orange/pink and remain on the ground.
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 NY requires a NY Pistol Permit. NY does not recognize any permits from other states.
Q: May I transport an entire deer carcass into NY from another state?
A: No. DEC prohibits importation of whole deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses from anywhere outside of New York State to protect our deer and moose from Chronic Wasting Disease.
Q: When do tree stands have to be removed from state-managed lands?
A: On DEC-managed lands, tree stands (including scaffolds, raised platforms, ladders, steps, and other devices to assist in climbing) labeled with a name and address or DEC ID number may be left overnight but must be removed at the end of the hunting season. Tree stands (including ladders and steps) may not injure the tree. A permanently placed raised platform or tree stand may be used for hunting on private land with the permission of the landowner.
Q: When do duck blinds have to be removed?
A: Hunting blinds placed in navigable waters must be labeled with the owner’s name and address then removed from navigable waters no later than March 15 each year.
Q: When waterfowl hunting, how far offshore are you allowed to anchor down? Is this considered trespassing?
A: Where a waterfowl hunter can anchor varies depending on the location. Ultimately, it is the hunter’s responsibility to ensure they can legally anchor and hunt where they are discharging their firearm. In most non-tidal areas, the property boundary is the mean low water mark and hunters can legally anchor below this mark. However, the hunter should confirm the under water lands are within the public domain. Most counties now have publicly accessible property boundary maps online. In tidal areas, the public domain typically extends to the mean high-water mark.
Q: What animals require pelt seals in New York? How do I get them sealed?
A: Fisher, Marten, Otter (trapped), Bobcat (hunted or trapped) require a pelt seal. To have a pelt sealed, bring your game to your local DEC office, or contact an ECO in your area.
Q: What are the legal specifications for a crossbow?
A: They must have a minimum overall length from the butt of the stock to the front of the limbs of 24 inches, a minimum limb width of 17 inches, and be able to launch a minimum 14-inch arrow/bolt (not including arrowhead). The draw weight must be 100–200 pounds. Crossbow specifications, like all aspects of crossbow use for hunting, are established in law by the NYS Legislature and Governor.
Q: Can I use a semi-automatic rifle for hunting?
A: You may use a semi-automatic rifle for hunting game that may be taken with a rifle. As of September 3, 2022, to take ownership of a semi-automatic rifle you must be at least 21 years old and must first apply for and acquire a New York State semi-automatic rifle license. A person of any legal hunting age may temporarily possess/borrow a legal semi-automatic rifle for hunting. Note, the SAFE Act also governs the features allowed for semi-automatic firearms and magazine capacity in all guns. Visit the “SAFE Act Resources for Hunters” website (safeact.ny.gov/resources-hunters) for a description of these features. Also note, rifles may not be used for hunting wild turkeys, pheasants, or migratory game birds (except crows).