General License Information
Purchasing a License
Hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses can be purchased at over 1,200 agent locations throughout NYS, over the phone via the DEC call center (1-866-933-2257/M-F, 8AM-5PM, Sat. 9AM-5PM (extended hours Aug 1- Nov 30, M-F 7AM-7PM, Sat 9AM-5PM), and online through DEC’s Automated Licensing System, DECALS (https://decals.licensing.east.kalkomey.com). You can also visit this link to locate a license issuing agent near you. All major credit cards are accepted online and over the phone.
Mandatory Hunter Education
A hunter education course is required for persons who cannot provide proof that they have ever possessed a hunting license. You must be at least 11 years of age to take this class. The general course is an in-person or online course offered by DEC and is a minimum of seven hours in length. Once the course is complete, the individual must have the DEC hunter education certificate added to their DEC licensing profile. This can be done anywhere licenses are sold or by calling 1-866-933-2257. DEC honors hunter education certificates and sporting licenses from all other states and countries that meet IHEA-USA requirements.
Mandatory Bowhunter Education
Hunters wishing to bowhunt for big game must present either:
- Proof that they successfully completed an approved bowhunter education course (in-person or online). (Note: Approved courses are International Bowhunter Education Program courses or an equivalent course. If in doubt, call toll free — 1-888-HUNT-ED2); OR
- Proof that they previously held a New York State bowhunting license or stamp issued in 1980 or later; if proof is from prior to 1980, they must take an additional 7-hour minimum bowhunter education course.
Mandatory Crossbow Requirement
Hunters wishing to use a crossbow must complete qualifications in the safe use of hunting with a crossbow and responsible crossbow hunting practices. See Crossbow Hunting Information for details.
To qualify for an annual resident license, a person must live in New York State for more than 30 days immediately preceding the date of application. To qualify for a Lifetime License, a person must live in New York State for at least one year immediately preceding the date of purchase. 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. For a complete list of valid residency proof documents please see www.dec.ny.gov/permits/95452.html#Res.
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.
Licenses and permits are valid from September 1 through August 31.
- A license or tag is not transferable and may be used only by the person to whom it was issued (except for Deer Management Permits—see Deer Management Permits (DMPs)).
- It is illegal 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 hunting 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 license and tags and turn them black. If destroyed, there is a fee for replacement.
- Sign the back of your license/privilege panel.
Must be visibly displayed on the middle of your back while hunting, except in the Northern Zone and Catskill Park.
Hunting 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 hunting license when hunting small game on farmlands 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, fishing, and trapping licenses are available to members of the Shinnecock and Unkechaug Nations and members of the Six Nations residing on reservations in the state. They must be obtained from some Nations councils or DEC headquarters in Albany (518) 402-8843.
Free hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses are also available to NYS residents who have the appropriate Hunter Education and are active service members of the NYS Guard, US Reserve Forces or certain members of the US Armed Forces. For more detailed information, visit our website or call (518) 402-8843.
A lost current year 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.
Special Licenses for Hunters with Disabilities
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
This authorization allows qualified people to hunt big or small game with a legal bow that is equipped with a device to hold it in a drawn and cocked position. It does not allow for the use of a crossbow.
To qualify for a Modified Longbow Authorization, a person must be permanently physically unable to draw and hold a legal bow.
Modified crossbow permit
This permit allows qualified people to hunt big or small game during bowhunting season 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 in place of a bow for the entire bow season.
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.
For more information on these permits, write the NYS DEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4752, email [email protected] or call (518) 402-8985. The application process takes time; write or call well before you intend to hunt.
Deer Hunting Privileges and Tags
Resident and non-resident hunter licenses
- Hunting or Junior Hunting (ages 12-15): Hunters ages 12 and older will receive a Regular Season Deer Tag and hunters ages 14 and older will receive a Regular Season Deer Tag and Regular Season Bear Tag.
- Muzzleloading privilege: You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag.
- Junior bowhunting or bowhunting privilege: You will receive a Bow/Mz Season Either Sex Tag. Junior bowhunters ages 12-13 will receive an Either Sex Tag and a Bear Tag. Junior bowhunters ages 14-15 will receive an Either Sex Tag. Junior bowhunters may use the Either Sex Deer Tag during the regular season, with bowhunting equipment.
Residents and non-residents must purchase a hunting license to be eligible for bowhunting and muzzleloading privileges. If you purchase both bowhunting and muzzleloading privileges, you will receive one Bow/Mz Either Sex Deer Tag and one Bow/Mz Antlerless Deer Tag. Both tags may be used in either season, with the appropriate implement.