ALBANY — Crisp autumn air, early and frosty nights. These are sure signs that small game hunting season is just around the corner.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that several small game hunting seasons open Oct. 1 across New York State, including special youth hunts and new hunting opportunities for active-duty military members and veterans.
“Public and private lands across the state present a diverse array of small game hunting opportunities,” Seggos said. “Pursuing small game is a great way to introduce someone to hunting and in addition to our youth hunting seasons, DEC is offering waterfowl hunts this year specifically for active military and veterans. I encourage experienced hunters across the state to take advantage of these opportunities, bring a new hunter afield, and follow hunter safety requirements to have a rewarding experience this fall.”
Several special youth-only hunting seasons for pheasants and waterfowl occur prior to the start of the regular season. Season dates, bag limits, and other hunting regulations for New York’s small game species are available in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, which can be obtained from a license-issuing agent or on DEC’s website.
In addition to youth dates, DEC is providing special hunting opportunities for active-duty military personnel and veterans. Participating hunters must carry identification that verifies their active duty or veteran status. This fall’s active-duty military and veteran days include Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and Nov. 14 in the Western Zone.
Ruffed grouse hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through the last day of February in most areas of the state.
DEC encourages ruffed grouse hunters to take part in the grouse hunting log program and submit feathers from harvested birds in order to assess recruitment (number of young produced per adult female grouse) for different parts of the state. Interested hunters should visit the DEC website.
As for Pheasant Hunting, approximately 30,000 adult pheasants will be released on lands open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season. The pheasant hunting season begins Oct. 17 in central and western portions of the state.
Since 2007, DEC has offered a special youth-only season to provide junior hunters the opportunity to hunt pheasants during the weekend prior to the regular pheasant hunting season. In Western New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is Oct. 10 and 11. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter is allowed to carry a firearm and harvest birds on these dates.
All release sites for pheasants provided by State-funded programs are open to public hunting. Pheasants will be released on State-owned lands prior to and during the fall hunting season and at several sites on New York City Watershed lands thanks to a partnership with New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Pheasant hunting opportunities have also been augmented by private landowners who have opened their land to public hunting. DEC is grateful for their help in providing high quality hunting experiences for New York’s hunters. A list of statewide pheasant release sites and sites receiving birds for the youth-only pheasant hunt weekends can be found on DEC’s website.
Squirrel, Rabbit, and Hare hunting opportunities can be found throughout the state, including on many public lands. Squirrel seasons started Sept. 1 in Upstate New York.
Wild Turkey enjoyed better reproductive success this summer compared to last year. As a result, turkey hunters can expect to see more birds while afield this fall. Wild turkeys are less vulnerable to harvest in areas with abundant food (e.g., hard and soft mast), because they don’t have to roam far and wide foraging, so scouting before the season is important. Season opener for Fall is Oct. 17 – Oct. 30 in the Southern Zone. The statewide season bag limit is one bird of either sex. Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.