Several small game hunting seasons across N.Y. begin Oct. 1

Several small game hunting seasons open Oct. 1 across New York state. DEC Photo

WATERTOWN — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that several small game hunting seasons open Oct. 1 across New York state.

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 opened on Sunday, 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 take part in the grouse hunting log program and 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. 26 and 27. Both the junior hunter and their adult mentor must have a hunting license. Only the junior hunter is allowed to carry a firearm and harvest 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 have also been augmented by private landowners who have opened their land to public hunting. DEC is grateful for their help in providing high quality hunting experiences for New York’s hunters. 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.

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. Rabbit hunting begins on Oct. 1 in Upstate New York. With ample opportunities and mild weather, squirrel and rabbit hunting are great ways to introduce novices to hunting. Snowshoe hare (or varying hare) season starts Oct. 1 in the Northern Zone.

Wild turkeys enjoyed better reproductive success this summer compared to last year. As a result, turkey hunters can expect to see more birds while afield this fall. 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 2020 are Oct. 1 to 14 in the Northern Zone.

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

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