NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State DEC announced that most small game hunting seasons will begin on October 1. NYS DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the fall season is a great opportunity for hunters to enjoy the sport.

“Every fall, more than 60,000 hunters venture afield to pursue New York’s abundant small game species,” Seggos said. “It’s a great way to introduce new hunters to the sport and teach them how to be a safe and responsible member of the hunting community while reconnecting to the outdoors, establishing new traditions, and experiencing New York’s diverse wildlife.”

Ruffed grouse hunting will be one of the seasons starting on October 1 and will be open until the last day of February in most parts of the state. The DEC is reminding hunters to positively confirm they are hunting ruffed grouse rather than spruce grouse, which is a state-endangered species and is illegal to hunt. The DEC released tips for hunters to help distinguish which species is which on their website.

The DEC will be releasing about 30,000 adult pheasants on public land for the upcoming season. The season will begin on October 1 for northern and eastern portions of New York, October 16 in central and western portions of the state, and November 1 on Long Island.

In Western New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend will take place on October 9 and October 10. In northern and eastern New York, the youth pheasant hunt weekend will be September 25 and September 26, and on Long Island, it will take place on October 30 and October 31. In order to participate in the hunt, 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.

Squirrel hunting season started on September 1 in Upstate New York and will begin on November 1 on Long Island. Rabbit hunting will begin on October 1 in Upstate New York and on November 1 on Long Island. Snowshoe hare season will start October 1 in the Northern Zone, while hare hunters in the Southern Zone’s season will begin in late fall or early winter.

Wild turkeys can be found throughout the state specifically in forests, old fields, and farmlands. The statewide season bag limit is one bird of either sex and hunting hours are sunrise to sunset. This season’s dates are as follows:

  • October 1 through October 14 in the Northern Zone
  • October 16 through October 29 in the Southern Zone
  • November 20 through December 3 in Suffolk County and on Long Island

Coyote hunting season will start on October 1 across most of the state and hunting seasons for other furbearers such as bobcat, raccoon, and fox will begin on October 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 hunters will be able to harvest more than 30 species of waterfowl this season. The season dates across the five waterfowl zones are listed below:

Youth Waterfowl Days:

  • Northeast Zone: September 18 and September 19
  • Southeast and Lake Champlain zones: September 25 and September 26
  • Western Zone: October 2 and October 3
  • Long Island Zone: November 6 and November 7

Military and Veteran Hunting Days:

  • Northeast Zone: September 18 and September 19
  • Southeast Zone: October 9 and October 10
  • Western Zone: November 11 and November 13
  • Long Island Zone: November 13 and November14
  • There will be no special Military or Veteran days for the Lake Champlain Zone.

Opening dates for the Regular Duck Seasons:

  • Northeast Zone: October 2
  • Lake Champlain Zone: October 13
  • Western and Southeast Zones: October 16
  • Long Island Zone: November 20

The DEC is encouraging hunters to continue to use common sense during the fall hunting season and to remember basic training such as always pointing their gun in a safe direction, treating every gun as if it were loaded, being sure of their target and beyond when shooting and keeping their finger off the trigger until they’re ready to shoot.