Environmental Conservation Police Q & A

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

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. DMP instructions can be found in this guide.

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.

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), or the quarry you’re hunting doesn’t require a carcass tag. 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 urine or animal-based scents. 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 Co.

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: I found a live wild animal in a trap. What can I do?

A: Unless you own the trap or have permission (and are licensed to trap), it is illegal to release, dispatch or steal a trapped furbearer or tamper with legally set traps.

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: How can I transport a crossbow in a vehicle?

A: A crossbow must be decocked to be legally possessed in or on a motor vehicle. Simply removing the bolt does not meet the requirement. When spotlighting deer, a crossbow must be taken down, securely fastened in a case, or locked in the trunk.

Q. What basic steps should I follow when an ECO approaches me while I am afield hunting?

A: Most importantly, keep firearms pointed in a safe direction with the safety “ON.” Do not try to unload them, which can lead to accidents.

Q. Without permission, how far must I be from a house to discharge an implement?

A: You must be a minimum of 150 feet to discharge a bow, 250 feet for crossbow and 500 feet for firearms including muzzleloaders. Local laws or ordinances on firearm discharges may also apply.

Q: May I hunt small game with an air gun?

A: You may use an air gun to hunt any species that may legally be taken with a .22 caliber rim fire rifle, provided the air gun is no smaller than .17 caliber and has a muzzle velocity of at least 600 f.p.s.

Q: May I take a child younger than 12 with me while hunting? What about a spouse?

A: Yes, a person of any age may accompany a hunter afield to observe as long as they do not assist in the taking of wildlife, such as calling animals or actively participating in a deer drive. If unsure, consult an ECO.

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. More information on residency is found in the front of this guide.

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. Where target shooting is allowed, you may not damage live trees and must remove all litter.

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: Can I shoot a deer at first light?

A: No. For deer and bear hunting, legal shooting is between the minute of local sunrise to the minute of local sunset, NOT just when it’s light enough. Sunrise/sunset charts are available in this guide.

Q: May I transport an entire deer carcass into NY from another state?

A: No. Chronic Wasting Disease regulations ban importation of whole carcasses from anywhere outside of New York State. See the CWD pages of this guidebook.

ECO Chris DeRose and K-9 Cramer next to an illegally taken deer hidden under a pile of leaves by a violator. DEC K-9s have typical police dog skills and can detect scents including gunpowder/shell casings and venison, trout or turkey.

ECO Jared Lomozik assisted the Wounded Warrior in Action Foundation, NY Conservation Officers Association and other non-profits who fully sponsored regular season deer hunts for these three Purple Heart recipients in Yates County.

ECO Kevin Holzle with baby raccoons seized from a Niagara County suspect. ECOs routinely investigate complaints of illegally possessed wild animals. “If you care, leave it there” and call DEC to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

ECO Brian Canzeri’s dedicated tipsters put him on investigations in Rensselaer County that led to three subjects being charged with numerous tickets including baiting, taking over the limit of antlered deer and failure to report harvests.

ECO Mark Colesante observed a pile of snow geese on the porch of a Cayuga County resident. Several youths were charged after his investigation revealed that they were all illegally taken from the highway and from a motor vehicle.

A happy youth hunter and ECO Lt. Liza Bobseine after a Seneca County youth deer season hunt. ECOs regularly attend Hunter Education classes and mentor hunters during the youth seasons for deer, turkey and waterfowl.