Several special youth-only hunting seasons for pheasants and waterfowl occur prior to the start of the regular season, and youth hunting programs are scheduled in DEC’s Region 6, which includes portions of the Adirondack Park.
Waterfowl Hunting and Youth Waterfowl Days
Hunting seasons for waterfowl (ducks, geese, and brant) begin in early October in many parts of the state. In addition, there are special opportunities for junior hunters (ages 12 to 15) prior to the regular season. Junior hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter, and both the junior hunter and adult must be registered with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Adult hunters must also have a federal migratory bird stamp. This fall’s youth waterfowl days are Sept. 21 and 22 in the Northeast and Southeast zones; and Sept. 28 and 29 in the Lake Champlain Zone.
Ruffed Grouse Hunting
Ruffed grouse hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through the last day of February in most areas of the state. In northern New York, the season opens on Sept. 20, and runs through the last day of February.
Ruffed grouse hunters in the Northern Zone are reminded to positively identify quarry before shooting. The Northern Zone, specifically Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J, is also home to the spruce grouse, a state-endangered species that is not legal to hunt. Loss of a single spruce grouse, particularly a female spruce grouse, could be a significant setback for a small local population.
Spruce grouse exist in lowland conifer forests in the Adirondacks. Although ruffed grouse occur in upland hardwoods statewide, during the fall and winter, ruffed grouse may be found in spruce grouse habitat. Small game hunters in the Adirondack region must be able to distinguish between these species so that spruce grouse are not shot by mistake. For tips on how to discern the two species, view the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or the ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.
DEC encourages ruffed grouse hunters to 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.
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. 1 in northern and eastern portions of New York.
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 northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend is Sept. 28 and 29. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter is allowed to carry a firearm and kill 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. Pheasant hunting opportunities are also augmented by private landowners who have opened their land to public hunting. 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 to hunt squirrels and rabbits can be found throughout the state, including on many public lands. Squirrel seasons started Sept. 1 in upstate New York. Rabbit hunting begins on Oct. 1 in upstate New York. Snowshoe hare (or varying hare) season starts Oct. 1 in the Northern Zone.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Several years ago, DEC updated the fall turkey hunting season structure in response to declines in turkey populations. The cold, wet spring weather New York experienced this year may have contributed to reduced recruitment of young birds. With that in mind, hunters are expected to see fewer birds this fall than in recent years and may have to work harder to locate a flock.Season dates for fall 2019 in the Northern Zone are Oct. 1 – 14. The statewide, season bag limit is one bird of either sex. Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.
Season dates, bag limits, and other hunting regulations for New York’s suite of small game species can be found in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, which can be obtained from a license-issuing agent and on DEC’s website. For more information and important hunting safety tips, visit DEC’s website and watch videos about hunter safety and tree stand safety.
Photo of small game hunter provided.