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Hunting season is upon us

September 14, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

The leaves are changing color and the smell of woodsmoke is noticeable here and there. And soon, the woods will be filled not only hikers, but also with hunters.

Fall is hunting season in the Adirondacks, and while there are various hunting and trapping seasons throughout the fall, winter and spring, deer and bear are the main big game. As the weather cools, hunters are hoping their guns will be heating up.


Article Photos

Whitetail deer and bear are the primary targets for hunters in the Adirondacks.
Photo provided by Wikimedia


The state Department of Environmental Conservation regulates hunting in New York, and generally divides the state into different zones in regard to hunting seasons. The Adirondacks are in the Northern Zone, along with the rest of the North Country while the rest of the state is considered the Southern Zone. Different zones may have different start and end dates for hunting and trapping, so its important to know in which zone you'll be hunting or traveling. Long Island and New York City and its suburbs may also have different rules in place.

Within the zones are also different, smaller wildlife management units (WMUs) that will also have their own rules and dates.



Black bear and white-tailed deer are the animals that most hunters go after, and early bear season begins this week on Saturday, Sept. 15. Early deer season starts Sept. 27 with regular season commencing Oct. 20.

Fall turkey season begins Oct. 1 and runs through the 14th while the regular bear season begins the same day as the regular deer season.

The bobcat season runs considerably longer than deer or bear, from Oct. 25 through Feb. 15 next year. Weasel, skunk, opossum, raccoon and fox hunting goes from Oct. 25 through Feb. 15 in all of New York except Long Island. Coyote hunting also runs statewide from Oct.1 through March 31. According to the DEC, "There are no bag limits for coyotes. They may be hunted during the day or night."

Cottontail rabbit and varying hare seasons in the Northern Zone begin Oct. 1 and go through March 17. Gray, black and fox squirrels can be hunted statewide (except for Long Island) from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28, although, "red squirrels are unprotected, and may be hunted at any time without limit."

Pheasant hunting runs from Oct. 1 through Feb. 28 and ruffed grouse opens Thursday, Sept. 20 and goes through Feb. 28. Woodcock and crow seasons run statewide, except for New York City, with woodcock hunting from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14 while crows can be hunted from Sept. 1 through March 31. Snipe, rails and gallinules also have a statewide season, which runs from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9.



Although state law requires that all successful hunters report their take to the DEC, less than half of all hunters do. In its annual deer hunting report, the DEC said that in the Northern Zone, 49.8 percent of hunters reported their take last year. That's an improvement over the five-year average, which shows a reporting rate of 44.8 percent.

Game harvests can be reported online at


Hunter safety

Hunter safety has improved markedly over the past decade or so, as the DEC now requires all new hunters to take and pass a hunter safety course. Although, the department says that the courses are typically not offered during hunting season, and says, "do not wait until just before hunting season to take a class."

Safety classes are a minimum of seven hours. Students must be at least 11 years old, and youth aged 11-16 need a permission slip. Classes include instruction on safety, hunter ethics, specific laws and regulations and the principles of wildlife mangement.

To sign up for a course online, go to


Watch them grow

The DEC encourages deer hunters to, "let young bucks go and watch them grow." The message is a voluntary effort for hunters to not shoot young bucks, since young bucks that aren't killed often become larger bucks.

"The primary reason New York doesn't have more older, larger-antlered bucks in the harvest is because many get taken as yearlings," the DEC's buck hunting page says. "But the good news is that this is changing and hunters are now taking more older buck than ever before.

"For NY bucks to get bigger bodies and larger antlers, they simply need to get older. Older bucks are more challenging to hunt and yield more meat for the successful hunter. These bucks create more rubs and scrapes and vocalize more - all things that add to the hunting experience."


Tooth collection

The DEC also asks that bear hunters, in addition to reporting their take, submit a tooth or part of the jaw for evaluation by DEC wildlife staff. Hunters who submit a tooth will be given a Black Bear Management Cooperator patch.

"DEC collects biological data from harvested bears to determine bear condition, sex and age," the department's website says. "Part of this effort includes the collection of a small tooth (premolar) located behind the larger canines which is used to determine the age of the bear.

"In many cases, DEC staff cannot physically check every bear, so hunter cooperation by submitting a tooth from their bear is an important contribution to bear management. "

For more information on black bear tooth collection, go to



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