NEW YORK (WWTI) – Basil Seggos, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, announced that most small game hunting seasons open on Saturday, October 1, across New York State.

“From waterfowl and upland gamebirds to squirrels, rabbits, and more, there are abundant opportunities for hunters across New York State, — This year, hunters can enjoy even more waterfowl hunting opportunities, with an increase in mallard and Canada goose bag limits and an extended goose season.” 

Basil Seggos, New York State’s DEC Commissioner

The Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide — which can be obtained from a license-issuing agent or on DEC’s website – contains season dates, bag limits and other hunting regulations for New York’s small game species.

Waterfowl Hunting and Special Youth and Military Days:

New York offers expansive waterfowl hunting opportunities as more than 30 species of waterfowl are available for hunters to harvest. New York has five waterfowl zones and nine Canada goose zones that help to maximize hunting opportunities 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 start before the regular hunting season.

Youth Waterfowl Days, on Saturdays and Sundays:

  • Northeast, Southeast and Lake Champlain Zones — September 23 and 24;
  • Western Zone — September 30 and October 1; and
  • Long Island Zone — November 4 and 5.

Military and Veteran Hunting Days, on Saturdays and Sundays:

  • There are no special Military/Veteran days for the Lake Champlain Zone;
  • Northeast and Southeast Zones — September 23 and 24;
  • Western Zone — Saturday, October 7 and Saturday, January 20; and
  • Long Island Zone — November 11 and 12.

Opening dates for the Regular Duck Seasons:

  • Northeast & Lake Champlain Zones – Saturday, October 7
  • Western and Southeast zones — Saturday, October 21
  • Long Island Zone — Saturday, November 18

More on waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits is available on the Waterfowl Seasons page on DEC’s website.

Ruffed Grouse Hunting

  • In most of NY, the season starts on Sunday, October 1, and ends on Thursday, February 29;
  • In Northern New York, the season opens on Wednesday, September 20, and ends on Thursday, February 29; and
  • In New York City and Long Island, the season is closed.

Ruffed grouse hunters in the Northern Zone are reminded to positively identify quarry before shooting — specifically Wildlife Management Units 5C, 5F, 6F, and 6J – because this area is also home to the spruce grouse which is a State-endangered species that is illegal to hunt. The loss of a single spruce grouse — particularly a female — could be a significant setback for a smaller local population.

Tips on how to discern the two species is available in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or the Ruffed Grouse Hunting Information page on DEC’s website.

DEC is encouraging ruffed grouse hunters to take part in the grouse hunting log program and submit feathers from harvested birds to assess recruitment — the number of young produced per adult female grouse — for different parts of the state.

Pheasant season and Pheasant propagation update

During the spring, Reynold’s Game Farm suffered a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak in the breeder flock — after enacting precautionary measures to ensure the facility was properly decontaminated — DEC secured a contract to acquire 30,000 pheasants from a commercial hatchery to supplement opportunities for fall upland bird hunting around the state.

Prior to hunting seasons, DEC will release adult pheasants on lands open to public hunting for the upcoming fall pheasant hunting season — The pheasant hunting season begins:

  • Sunday, October 1, in northern and eastern portions of New York;
  • Saturday, October 21, in central and western portions of the state; and
  • Wednesday, November 1, on Long Island.

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, youth pheasant hunt weekends are:

  • October 14 and 15 in Western New York;
  • September 23 and 24 in northern and eastern New York; and
  • October 28 and 29 on Long Island.

Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license, however, only the junior hunter can carry a firearm and harvest birds on these dates.

An interactive map of statewide pheasant release sites, approximate timing of stocking and number of birds stocked — 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, the season start dates for:


  • Friday, September 1 in Upstate New York; and
  • Wednesday, November 1 on Long Island.


  • Sunday, October 1 in Upstate New York; and
  • Wednesday, November 1 on Long Island.

Snowshoe hare — or varying hare:

  • Sunday, October 1 in the Northern Zone; and
  • Southern Zone — where the season starts in late fall or early winter — are encouraged to report their observations to DEC through the DEC website.

With ample opportunities and mild weather, squirrel and rabbit hunting are great ways to introduce novices to hunting.

Wild Turkey Hunting

Wild turkeys can be found throughout New York 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 — because they don’t have to roam far and wide foraging — so scouting before the season is important. The statewide fall season bag limit is one bird of either sex.

Hunting hours are sunrise to sunset. Season dates for fall 2023:

  • Sunday, October 1 to Saturday, October 14, in the Northern Zone;
  • Saturday, October 21 to Friday, November 3, in the Southern Zone; and
  • Saturday, November 18 to Friday, December 1 in Suffolk County, Long Island.

DEC would like to remind Hunters that there is an error in the hard-copy 2023-2024 hunting regulations guide for the season start dates in the Southern Zone. DEC recommends hunters visit the DEC website before going afield to confirm season dates and regulations – The corrected guide can be found Here.

Furbearer Hunting Seasons

Furbearer hunting and trapping opportunities are abundant — as 16 species of furbearers are living in New York.

  • Coyote hunting season begins Sunday, October 1 across most of the state; and
  • Other furbearers — bobcat, raccoon and fox — begin on Wednesday, October 25.

Information on season dates and zone boundaries for all furbearers and other hunting information including tips for identifying coyotes is available on DEC’s website and in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.  

Citizen Science:

Citizen science efforts such as the Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Log, Ruffed Grouse Parts Collection and the Bowhunter Sighting Log provide hunters the opportunity to partner with DEC to monitor game species — to learn more about how to participate in these efforts, you can visit the DEC website.

DEC Encourages Hunter Safety:

While statistics show hunting in New York is safer than it used to be, mistakes are still made every year. DEC believes every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable and Commissioner Seggos encourages hunters to use common sense and to remember what they learned in their DEC Hunter Education Course.

Firearms Safety:

  • Point your gun in a safe direction;
  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
  • Be sure of your target and beyond; and
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

In addition to blaze orange or pink being required for hunting big game with firearms, DEC encourages small game hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink as well. Wearing orange or pink prevents other hunters from mistaking you for an animal or shooting in a hunter’s direction — hunters wearing blaze orange are seven times less likely to be shot.

More information and other important safety tips is available on DEC’s website and videos about hunter safety are available on NYSDEC’s YouTube page.

More information about getting outdoors safely and responsibly is available on DEC’s Website.