The 2016 regular deer and bear hunting seasons in New York's Southern Zone begin at sunrise on Saturday, and continue through Dec. 11. The Southern Zone regular season is New York's most popular hunting season, with about 85 percent of the state’s 550,000 licensed hunters participating. Harvests during this season account for nearly 60 percent of the total annual statewide deer take and 30 to 60 percent of the statewide bear harvest.
Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons will run from Dec. 12 through Dec. 20. Hunters taking part in these special seasons must possess a hunting license and either bowhunting or muzzleloading privileges.
In the Northern Zone, the regular deer and bear hunting season opened Oct. 22, and will close at sunset Dec. 4. The Northern Zone includes the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau, Eastern Lake Ontario Plain, and the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys. A late bowhunting and muzzleloading season for deer will be open in portions of the Northern Zone from Dec. 5 to Dec. 11.
Other Reminders for the 2016 Southern Zone Regular Hunting Season
• Recent legislation allows the use of rifles for big game hunting to continue in Albany County for two years and to continue indefinitely in Livingston County. See Rifle, Shotgun, and Bow Areas on DEC's website for other areas where rifles can be used.
• Crossbows may be used during the regular deer seasons in all parts of New York except Westchester and Suffolk counties, and the bow-only portions of Albany and Monroe counties. Crossbows may also be used during the late muzzleloading season for hunters possessing a muzzleloading privilege. See Crossbow Hunting on DEC's website for license and training requirements, general rules, and season opportunities.
• The Deer Management Focus Area will continue to assist communities in the Ithaca area with the burden of overabundant deer populations.
• Mandatory antler restrictions (three points on one side minimum) remain in effect in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, and 4W during all seasons for all hunters 17 years and older.
• Successful bear hunters are asked to submit a tooth from their bear to DEC so the agency can age the bear and monitor bear population dynamics. See the Bear Tooth Collection web page on DEC's website for instructions.
• Remember, Hunger Has A Cure... The Venison Donation Program is a great way to help those less fortunate while assisting with deer management in New York.
• Remember Firearms Safety:
• Point guns in a safe direction.
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
• Be sure of the target and beyond.
• Keep the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
• Remember to wear Hunter Orange.
For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2016-2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC's website. Hunters are urged to review all regulations and safety tips contained in the guide. Hunters may also be interested to read DEC's booklet, Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 763 KB), or to review DEC's unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts, which are both available online.