Hunting season is upon us in the Adirondacks. The state Department of Environmental Conservation estimates there are 823,000 hunters and trappers returning to the field to enjoy the variety of recreational hunting and trapping opportunities across the state.
Hunting and trapping are important management tools for several species, including deer, bear, beaver and Canada geese, according to the DEC. 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," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. "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. Our staff is committed to monitoring wildlife populations and hunter success to maintain these resources and opportunities for future generations; we urge all hunters to comply with harvest reporting requirements and to respond to any surveys they may be selected for."
Regular deer hunting season opens Oct. 26 in the Adirondacks.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)
Because it is hunting season, hikers and hunters should wear blaze orange when out in the woods. Most hunters will avoid well-traveled hiking areas. However, some will use them to access off-trail areas in places such as the High Peaks Wilderness. Don't be alarmed if you see a hunter walking down the trail with a bow or gun.
Some highlighted hunting opportunities for this year are listed below:
Bowhunting season opened in the Adirondacks on September 27 and continues until Dec. 8. In a few management areas, it continues until Dec. 15.
A special muzzleloader season in the Adirondacks opens Saturday, Oct. 19, followed by the regular firearms season that opens Oct. 26 and closes Dec. 8.
Bear hunting season opened in the Adirondacks and the Champlain Valley on Sept. 14, and continues along with deer hunting seasons into early December.
Small game hunting
Many people begin their hunting experience with small game, such as squirrels, for which the season opened Sept. 1, or cottontail rabbits, which opened Oct. 1. Both seasons run until late winter.
Coyote hunting season opened across the Adirondacks on Oct. 1, whereas seasons for other furbearing species (raccoon, fox, bobcat and others) generally open Oct. 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 Oct. 1 in most of eastern New York (excluding Long Island; and in northern New York, grouse season opened Sept. 20). Wild turkey and pheasant seasons open later on Oct. 19 in western New York. A limited fall turkey hunting season on Long Island will occur from Nov. 16-20.
September Canada goose seasons have come and gone, but waterfowl hunters have plenty of opportunities to look forward to. Duck hunting seasons began on Oct. 5 in the Northeastern Zone. Canada goose seasons will re-open in most of upstate New York on Oct. 26.
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.
All new hunters or trappers planning to go afield this upcoming hunting and trapping season must 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 general information about hunting or trapping in New York, or to get additional information about specific opportunities, visit DEC's hunting or trapping pages. Hunters and trappers should be sure to confirm the exact dates, bag limits, legal implements and other regulations pertaining to any area that you plan to hunt or trap before going afield.