Several hunting seasons begin in October

Several hunting seasons begin this month. Courtesy of Pexels

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the beginning of several hunting seasons in New York, including bowhunting for bear and deer in the Northern and Southern zones and the start of small game hunting seasons statewide.

“This is an exciting time of year for hunters who now have an opportunity to head afield and experience the tremendous hunting opportunities here in New York for both big and small game,” Seggos said. “In addition, the late summer weather, fall foliage and extended hunting hours combine to create outstanding conditions for new and experienced hunters who enjoy the sport.”


Bowhunting seasons for deer began Sept. 27 in the Northern Zone and Oct. 1 in the Southern Zone. Bowhunting season for bear in the Northern Zone began on Sept. 17.

Crossbow season is open to bowhunters during the last 10 days of the Northern Zone bow season (Oct. 12-21); and the last 14 days of the Southern Zone bow season (Nov. 5-18). This season is open to bowhunters who possess a muzzleloader privilege and a crossbow qualifications certificate, as required by law. Visit the Crossbow Hunting webpage on DEC’s website,, for details.

Additionally, DEC reminds hunters that the application deadline for Deer Management Permits (DMPs) is Oct. 1. Hunters should be prepared with the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) they intend to hunt prior to applying. DEC’s DMP Availability and Probability of Selection webpage has more information regarding DMP availability and chances of being selected in each WMU.


New York’s annual Youth Big Game Hunt occurs on Oct. 8-10, for 12- to 15-year-old hunters. This Youth Big Game Hunt takes place throughout the state, except in Suffolk and Westchester counties and bowhunting-only areas.

Following legislation passed in 2021, 12- and 13-year-old hunters may hunt deer with a firearm during the youth hunt and other firearms seasons in upstate counties that have passed a local law allowing their participation. Currently, the list of counties that have passed such a local law includes all counties north of Westchester County, with the exception of Erie and Rockland counties.

During this special opportunity, licensed 12- to 15-year-olds may use a firearm to hunt big game while accompanied by an experienced, licensed adult hunter. All eligible junior hunters may take one deer of either sex and 14- and 15-year-olds may also take one bear. During the youth hunt, antlerless deer taken with a firearm may be tagged with a regular season tag, DMP, or a Deer Management Assistance Program tag. Antlered deer may only be tagged with the regular season tag. Though junior hunters may have multiple deer tags, they may only take one deer with a firearm during the Youth Big Game Hunt.

Additional rules that apply to junior hunters and their adult mentors can be found on pages 36 and 37 of the Hunting and Trapping Guide or on the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program webpage.


Most small game hunting seasons opened Oct. 1, across New York state. 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,


Ruffed grouse hunting season runs from Oct. 1 through the last day of February in most parts of the state. In Northern New York, the season opened Sept. 20, and runs through the last day of February. In New York City and Long Island, the season is closed.

Ruffed grouse hunters in the Northern Zone are reminded to positively identify the species of grouse 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 illegal to hunt. Loss of a single spruce grouse, particularly a female, could be a significant setback for a small local population.

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 take part in the grouse hunting log program and submit feathers from harvested birds to assess recruitment (number of young produced per adult female grouse) for different parts of the state.


The pheasant hunting season begins:

  • Oct. 1, in northern and eastern portions of New York
  • Oct. 15, in central and western portions of the state; and
  • Nov. 1, on Long Island.

Since 2007, DEC offers 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. 8 and 9. In northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend was Sept. 24 and 25, and on Long Island, it is Oct. 29 and 30. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter can carry a firearm and harvest birds on these dates.

DEC will release approximately 30,000 adult pheasants on lands open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season. Many of these release sites are privately owned or managed by non-DEC governmental agencies (e.g., New York City Department of Environmental Protection, counties, or towns).

Hunters are asked to be respectful of any special rules, as the pheasant propagation system relies on these outside entities to provide hunters with opportunities close to home. New for 2022, DEC developed an interactive map detailing state and private land release sites for pheasants. The interactive mapper provides significantly more information on stocking sites, including the number of birds released, the approximate last stocking date for each property, and any access restrictions.


Opportunities to pursue squirrels and rabbits can be found throughout the state, including on many public lands. Squirrel seasons started Sept. 1 in upstate New York, and begins Nov. 1 on Long Island. Rabbit hunting began Oct. 1 in upstate New York, and Nov. 1 on Long Island. With ample opportunities and mild weather, squirrel and rabbit hunting are great ways to introduce novices to hunting.

Snowshoe hare (or varying hare) season started Oct. 1 in the Northern Zone. Hare hunters in the Southern Zone, where the season starts in late fall or early winter, are encouraged to report their observations to DEC through the DEC website.

Rabbit hunters should be aware of rabbit hemorrhagic virus 2 (RHDV2), a deadly virus affecting domestic and wild rabbits. Since it was first found in the United States in 2020, RHDV2 was documented in 26 states, including in domestic rabbits in New York.


Wild turkeys can be found throughout the state but reach their highest densities in landscapes that have a mix of forests, old fields and farmlands. 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 dates for fall 2022:

  • Oct. 1 – 14, in the Northern Zone
  • Oct. 15 – 28, in the Southern Zone
  • Nov. 19 – Dec. 2 in Suffolk County, Long Island

The statewide season bag limit is one bird of either sex. Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset.


With 16 species of furbearers living in New York, furbearer hunting and trapping opportunities are abundant.

Coyote hunting season began Oct. 1 across much of the state, and hunting seasons for other furbearers such as bobcat, raccoon and fox begin Oct. 25. Season dates and zone boundaries for all furbearers can be found on DEC’s website and in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.


New York offers vast waterfowl hunting opportunities as hunters may harvest more than 30 species of waterfowl.

New York has five waterfowl zones and nine Canada goose zones that help to maximize hunting opportunity across diverse habitats. Most waterfowl zones also have special hunting days for youth and members of the military (both active duty and veterans) that often begin prior to the regular hunting season, giving these hunters the opportunity to hunt with less competition and hunting pressure.

Opening dates for the Regular Duck Seasons:

  • Northeast Zone: Oct. 1
  • Lake Champlain Zone: Oct. 15
  • Western and Southeast zones: Oct. 15
  • Long Island Zone: Nov. 19

For more on waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits, visit the Waterfowl Seasons page on DEC’s website at

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