John Lewis

New York Small Game Hunting Regulations

new york, Regulations, small game

For thrill-seekers traversing New York’s dynamic landscapes, small game provides an unparalleled portal into the wild. From flushed-out flocks bursting into azure skies to the elusive dash of a brush rabbit, the challenge enhances the reward. However, with multifaceted regulations governing small game, diligent preparation is prerequisite to an ethical, legal and safe foray.

Important Regulation Resources

Latest Season Dates
Big Game
General Hunting
Migratory Birds
Crossbow Laws
Dog Hunting Laws
Furbearer & Trapping

Scoping Out Small Game

Blanketing the spectrum from birds to mammals and herpetofauna, “small game” encompasses:

  • Upland game birds: ruffed grouse, pheasant, woodcock, Hungarian partridge, bobwhite quail, and chukar partridge.
  • Migratory game birds: ducks, geese, brant, swans, mergansers, coots, snipe, rails, gallinules, and crows.
  • Small game mammals: cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, squirrels (gray, fox, and black), and eastern cottontail rabbits.
  • Certain furbearers: raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bobcats (hunting seasons for these species vary).
  • Reptiles and amphibians: snapping turtles, frogs (certain species have open seasons).

Additionally, small game includes certain furbearers within established trapping seasons. Prior to pursuit, all hunters must review New York’s general hunting regulations detailing licensure, safety protocols, firearms, trespassing and more.

Regulations: Demystified

General Stipulations

  • Firearms: No rifles or handguns for migratory birds or pheasant
  • Air guns: Permitted for small mammals excluding migratory birds or wild turkey
  • Crossbows: Prohibited when small game hunting with dogs in the Northern Zone, excluding coyotes
  • WMU 2A Falconry Only: Special exemption for Wildlife Management Unit 2A

Reptiles & Amphibians

  • Native species: No harvesting, taking or possession allowed
  • Turtles: Only snapping turtles can be legally hunted
  • Frogs: Designated species require fishing or hunting license

Game Birds

  • License: Required for possession or release of migratory and upland varieties
  • Falconry: Permitted with restrictions from October 1 – March 31

Spruce Grouse vs Ruffed Grouse

  • ID: Critical to distinguish endangered spruce grouse when hunting in Adirondack ruffed grouse areas

Open Seasons for Amphibian Hunting

SpeciesSeasonBag Limit
Snapping TurtleJuly 15 - Sept 30Daily: 5 and Season: 30
FrogJune 15 - Sept 30None

Dogs: Precautions & Code of Conduct

While dogs can be excellent hunting companions, regulations safeguard deer populations and prevent harassment.

Training Regulations

Afield Requirements

  • No dogs for spring turkey hunts
  • Leash laws prevail on State lands and posted private property
  • Immediately report stray dogs to Environmental Conservation Officers

Guarding Against RHDV2

A paramount threat to New York’s rabbits and hares, Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) demands extreme caution. By following strict protocols, hunters can help safeguard populations of these ecologically important species.

Preventative Measures

  • Refrain from contact with domestic rabbits
  • Always wear disposable gloves when handling carcasses
  • Double bag carcasses before proper disposal
  • Disinfect all gear after out-of-state use
  • Avoid travel to states with outbreaks

Together, this guide equips New York hunters with the insights needed for an ethical, legal and safe foray in pursuit of small game. By upholding regulations through personal accountability and dedication to wildlife conservation, the legacy of hunting is preserved for generations to come.

John Lewis
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