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Albany — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens has announced that New York's estimated 823,000 hunters and trappers are officially returning afield to enjoy the variety of recreational hunting and trapping opportunities that abound across upstate New York.
Hunting and trapping are important management tools for several species, including deer, bear, beaver, and Canada geese. These activities also provide significant benefits to New York's economy, especially in rural areas. Sales of sporting licenses, hunting equipment and accessories of all kinds, and expenditures for travel to hunting locations provide tens of millions of dollars annually for wildlife conservation programs in New York and contribute significantly to state and local economies. A recent national survey estimated that hunter expenditures on equipment and trip-related expenses in New York totaled more than $1.5 billion in 2011.
"New York offers an incredible variety of hunting and trapping opportunities to satisfy every interest imaginable," Commissioner Martens said. "DEC biologists and technicians work hard to identify and provide recreational hunting and trapping opportunities every year while ensuring that harvests of all species are sustainable on a long term basis."
Governor Cuomo recently announced a new initiative to make New York even more attractive to hunters and anglers. The "NY Open for Fishing and Hunting" plan streamlines sporting licenses and reduces fees to benefit sportsmen and sportswomen throughout the state. Fees will also be lowered for non-residents to encourage out-of-state hunters to experience the great game opportunities in New York. These changes will first go into effect in 2014.
Some highlighted hunting opportunities for this year in New York are listed below:

Big Game
Bowhunting season opened in northern New York on September 27 and the rest of upstate New York and Suffolk County on October 1. A special muzzleloader season in Northern New York opens on October 19, followed by the regular firearms season that opens on October 26. Firearms seasons for deer in the Southern Zone of New York will open on November 16.
New York's second annual Youth Deer Hunt will occur in upstate New York over the Columbus Day weekend (October 12-14). During this hunt, 14 and 15-year old junior hunters may take a deer of either sex with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult mentor visit DEC's website for more information. New York's first Youth Deer Hunt in 2012 was a positive experience for thousands of young hunters and provided a great opportunity for families to celebrate their hunting heritage and build a new generation of deer hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.
Bear hunting season opened in the Adirondacks and the Champlain Valley on September 14, and continues along with deer hunting seasons into early December. In portions of the Southern Zone, including the Catskills, Hudson Valley and Southern Tier, bear hunting seasons opened on October 1 and are generally the same as deer season, except for the Youth Hunt (which is for deer only).

Small Game Mammals
Many people begin their hunting experience with small game, such as squirrels, for which the season opened onSeptember 1, or cottontail rabbits, which opened upstate on October 1; hunting seasons for squirrels and rabbits will open November 1 on Long Island.
Coyote hunting season opened across all of upstate New York on October 1, whereas seasons for other furbearing species (raccoon, fox, bobcat, and others) generally open on October 25, when trapping seasons open as well. The areas open for bobcat hunting and trapping were expanded this year, and a special permit is required to take bobcats in those areas. Those interested in participating in the special permit program can contact a local DEC Wildlife office.

Upland Game Birds
Hunting seasons for a variety of upland game birds, including wild turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse and woodcock opened October 1 in most of eastern New York (excluding Long Island; and in northern New York, grouse season opened on September 20). Wild turkey and pheasant seasons open later on October 19 in western New York. A limited fall turkey hunting season on Long Island will occur from November 16-20.
A special Youth Pheasant Hunt was held in eastern New York this past weekend and another will be held on October 12-13 (Saturday-Sunday only) in western New York. On Long Island, the Youth Pheasant Hunt will be held on October 26-27, followed by the regular season opening on November 1. Pheasant stocking locations for public hunting are listed on the DEC website.

Waterfowl
September Canada goose seasons have come and gone, but waterfowl hunters have plenty of opportunities to look forward to. Duck hunting seasons are set for five different hunting zones, with the earliest beginning on October 5 in the Northeastern Zone. Youth Waterfowl Hunts were held in late September for several zones, and junior hunters in western New York will have one to look forward to on October 12-13 (Saturday-Sunday only), perhaps in combination with the Youth Pheasant Hunt in that area. Canada goose seasons will re-open in most of upstate New York onOctober 26.

Mentor a New Hunter
or Trapper
Adult hunters and trappers are encouraged to pass along their traditions and become a mentor for a junior hunter or trapper. The junior hunter and trapper mentoring program allows 14 and 15-year olds to hunt big game with a firearm and 12 to 15 year olds to hunt big game with a bow while accompanied and supervised by an experienced adult hunter. Unlicensed youth less than 12 years of age may also accompany and assist a licensed and experienced adult trapper. More details about these opportunities are available in this year's Hunting and Trapping Laws and Regulations Guide and on the DEC website.

Hunter Safety
All new hunters or trappers planning to go afield this upcoming hunting and trapping season mush first complete a mandatory hunter or trapper education course before they can obtain the appropriate sporting license. Training in safe handling of firearms and hunting is a legal requirement for anyone hunting in New York. Courses are free to take and are taught by DEC-certified instructors. Although primarily offered for first-time hunters or trappers, anyone is welcome to attend a sportsman education course, whether it is for a refresher or an interest of the topic. For more on basic hunting safety rules visit DEC's website.

For More Information
For general information about hunting or trapping in New York, or to get additional information about specific opportunities, visit DEC's hunting or trapping pages.