Hunting in New York - Top 5 Spots


Despite being synonymous with the heights of urban living, New York State is in fact a huge mishmash of diverse geography, from mountains to coasts, and cities to some of the largest state parks in the whole of the US. This varied terrain is a boon to hunters of all stripes as it provides habitats for up to forty different huntable species, covering all the major categories of big game, small game and waterfowl.

And New Yorkers take hunting as seriously as everything else they do, with upwards of 700,000 resident hunters every hunting season. Since hunting licenses are issued at very reasonable prices for both resident and non-resident hunters alike, there’s all the incentive you need to book your next hunting trip to the Empire State.

Stay with us as we delve into some of the kinds of hunting you can expect in New York, plus a countdown of the top 5 public hunting lands available.

Trail Cameras

And as all hunters know, scouting the land is the key to a successful hunt, which is why employing the aid of trail cameras to scout multiple areas is so vital in improving your chances of success.

In order to mount multiple cameras, you’re going to want to go for the most cost-effective option, without any sacrifice on quality. Take a look here at our low-priced, top-spec flagship 350C trail camera here, designed precisely for this purpose.

Let’s begin then by looking at the kinds of hunting New York is most famous for…

Hunting Deer in New York

No surprises that the ever-favourite white-tailed deer is New York’s most popular game animal and can be found throughout the state, with numbers estimated at around the one million mark.

They’re especially prevalent in the east-central part of the state, where they can be found in numbers of 100 per square mile. This overabundance of the species explains why the state issues over 750,000 deer hunting licenses and hunters take some 220,000 deer annually. Such a huge haul brings in around 11 million pounds of venison, enough to feed the population of White Plains for a whole year.

At only $47 for resident hunting license and deer permit, and only $140 for non-residents, it’s hard not to recommend New York as a great whitetail destination.

Pheasant hunting in New York

Like much of the eastern seaboard, pheasant hunting in steeped in tradition, as the earliest English settlers brought over their favorite pastime hundreds of years ago.

Not only did they bring over their traditions, they brought over the birds themselves, since pheasants are not native to the US, and especially not the north-east. Because they’re not acclimatised to the extreme temperatures of New York winters, and because of ever-increasing coyote numbers, pheasants on the whole do not survive into the spring.

For this reason, over 30,000 pheasants are raised on the Richard E. Reynolds farm in Ithaca every year and are released at Pheasant Release Sites throughout the state.

Turkey Hunting in New York

If you’re more partial to a bit of turkey than venison, then the good news is that, in New York, turkey hunting is even cheaper than deer hunting: only $32 for a non-resident hunting license and turkey permit and only $120 for non-residents.

And New York is turkey heaven, with over 18.6 million acres of public forested land. Not as much as it used to be, however, and the transition of forested land to agricultural land does mean that numbers have dipped in the last few years. But at around 170,000 turkeys state-wide, it’s still worth having a go for a New York gobbler.

Hunting Bear in New York

At around 7,000 black bears in the state, New York doesn’t rank at the top of US states for bear populations, but it certainly doesn’t rank at the bottom either. And with the juxtaposition of bear habitat with urban centers, the state government is fairly lenient in allowing hunting, with fall bear permits issued throughout the northern, southeastern and central-western parts of the state.

So, if it’s bears you’re after, head for the Adirondack region and also the Catskill region, which combined contain up to 95% of the state’s black bears. You’re not going to encounter Canadian-sized bears but NY bears are certainly no teddies, with sizes of up to 550 pounds on the record books.

Let’s now take a look at when you should plan your hunting trip…

Hunting Season in New York

N.B.: seasons vary by zone

Big Game

Archery<span "="">

Archery and Crossbow<span "="">

Firearms<span "="">

Muzzleloading<span "="">

Youth Firearms<span "="">

Early Bear<span "="">

Deer<span "="">

Sept. 27-Nov. Dec. 31<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Sept. 27-Nov. Dec. 31<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Oct. 19-Dec. 17<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Black bear<span "="">

Sept. 14-Oct. 25<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Oct. 26-Dec. 8<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Oct. 19-Dec. 17<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Oct. 12-14<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Sept. 7-Oct. 18<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Small Game

Turkey<span "="">

Bobwhite Quail<span "="">

Rabbit<span "="">

Pheasant<span "="">

Ruffed Grouse<span "="">

Squirrel<span "="">

Varying Hare<span "="">

Fall Oct. 1-Nov. 30<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

Oct. 1-Feb. 29<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Oct. 1-Mar. 15<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Oct. 19-Feb. 28<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Sept. 20-Feb. 29<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Sept. 1-Feb. 29<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Oct. 1-March 15<span "="" style="font-size: 10.5pt;">

Spring Youth: Apr. 25-26<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

General: May 1-31<span "="" style="font-size: 11pt;">

In the second half of the article, we shift focus to our countdown of the top 5 public lands in New York state. Though there are some very large State Forests and State Parks in New York, most hunting is centred around the huge number of well-organized, fairly large Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

Therefore, we’re going to devote this part to the top 5 WMAs in New York state by size…

5. Perch River Wildlife Management Area

*Photo from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Size: 7,862-acre

Located in Jefferson County on the northern border of the state, this WMA is divided into three zones: refuge, restricted use, and public use. Hunting in the fall season is allowed in the restricted use zone, and in both the fall and spring seasons hunting is allowed in the public use zone.

Most of the WMA is wetland and open water habitats, meaning that it is a haven for waterfowl hunters. but there are also woodland and grassland habitats that provide big game and small game opportunities.

Waterfowl, white-tailed deer, turkey, woodcock, ruffed grouse, pheasant, cottontail rabbit, and grey squirrel.

Office: DEC Region 6 Watertown Office
Opening Hours: M-F, 8:00AM - 4:45PM
Phone: (315) 785-2263

4. Little John Wildlife Management Area

*Photo from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Size: 7,918 acres

Also to be found in Jefferson County, this WMA is also well-known for its high snowfall during the winter months, with drifts as deep as 15 feet in some parts. so hunters are advised to visit in early Fall or Spring.

An intriguing mixture of highly elevated areas of up to 1,500 feet above sea level, mature forests, wetlands and swamplands, this WMA is bound to surprise you at every turn.

Hunting: White-tailed deer, waterfowl and a variety of small game species

Office: DEC Region 7 Cortland Office
Opening Hours: M-F, 8:30AM - 4:45PM
Phone: (607) 753-3095

3. Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area

*CC BY-SA 2.5,

Size: 8,200 acres

Part of the 50,000 acres Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (see photo), which is federally owned and managed, the smaller Northern Montezuma WMA is owned and run at a state level, therefore allows hunting opportunities in accordance with the New York hunting seasons and regulations.

The fact that it’s spread over three counties: Cayuga, Wayne and Seneca, points to the wide diversity of habitats contained within, from grasslands and crop fields to marshlands, this WMA provides the most diverse hunting opportunities in the whole state.

Deer, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, woodcock, snipe, grouse, pheasant, Canada goose, mallard, wood duck, green-winged teal, wigeon, and northern pintail.

Office: DEC Region 8 Avon Office
Opening Hours: M-F, 8:30AM - 4:45PM
Phone: (585) 226-5380

2. Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area

*Photo from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Size: 8,757 acres

Located in St. Lawrence County, the largest county in the state, at its northern-most border, this WMA is divided into three zones: refuge, restricted use, and public hunting.

Hunting is, quite predictably, restricted to the public hunting zone and is most notable for waterfowl, being, as it is, a large, developed wetland complex. Ring-neck pheasants, released every fall in this area, are another big draw though.

Hunting: waterfowl, big game, small game, and ring-necked pheasant.

Office: DEC Region 6 Potsdam Office
Opening Hours: M-F, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Phone: (315) 265-3090

1. Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area

*Photo from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Size: 8,898 acres

Near Lake Ontario, this WMA is well-known its heavy snow falls every winter, therefore prospective hunters should aim to visit in early Fall or Spring. The varied woodlands provide perfect habitat for big game and small game and hunting is facilitated by the good system of roads running throughout.

Hunting: white-tailed deer, waterfowl, and a variety of small game species.

Office: DEC Region 7 Cortland Office
Opening Hours: M-F, 8:30AM - 4:45PM
Phone: (607) 753-3095


So, there you have it! There may be only one New York City but there are many different parts to New York state itself, many of which are ideally suited for the outdoor and hunting enthusiast.

Let us know your thoughts and experiences, plus any questions related to trail cameras and hunting, by contacting us on FacebookTwitter or via email. And don’t forget to take a look at WingHome 350C trail cameras and how they can seriously help you out on your next hunting trip.

Till then, happy trails from the WingHome team!

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