DEC announces start of deer, bear season in Southern zone

Regional News

(WETM) – The New York State DEC announced the dates for regular firearms season for deer and bear in the Southern Zone.

The regular firearms season will begin on Saturday, November 20 and will run until December 12. The DEC is also urging hunters to review safety regulations and changes to this season.

“New York’s hunters are among the state’s most important conservationists,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Hunters help to balance deer and bear populations with local habitats and land uses while providing more than 11 million pounds of quality, locally grown, organic meat to sustain families. With more opportunities to venture afield this season, I encourage New Yorkers to continue practicing the key tenets of hunter safety for a safe and enjoyable time outdoors.”

Following the regular deer and bear seasons in the Southern Zone, late bowhunting and muzzleloading seasons run from Dec. 13 through Dec. 21, and again from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, the latter of which is an extension from past years. 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. 23, and closes on Dec. 5. 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. 6 to Dec. 12.

New this year, 12- and 13-year-old hunters can hunt deer with a firearm when accompanied by a licensed, experienced adult in counties that ‘opted in’ to the pilot program. Established by the New York State Legislature through 2023, this pilot program applies only to upstate counties that choose to participate. The program does not apply to Westchester or Suffolk counties; Erie and Rockland counties did not opt in to participate. The remaining 52 upstate counties opted in. Also new, DEC extended the daily hunting hours to run from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, allowing hunters to utilize the full daylight period. Hunters should check the sunrise and sunset times before hunting each day.

All hunters pursuing deer or bear with a firearm are now required to wear fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink clothing, either a hat, vest, or jacket visible in all directions.

Hunters are reminded to follow the basic rules of firearm safety:

  1. Point your gun in a safe direction;
  2. Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
  3. Be sure of your target and beyond; and
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

When hunting in tree stands, hunters are advised to use a safety harness and a climbing belt, as most tree stand accidents occur when hunters are climbing in and out of the stand. Also, hunters should never climb in or out of a tree stand with a loaded firearm.

For specific descriptions of regulations and open areas, hunters should refer to the 2021-2022 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide available on DEC’s website ( Hunters are urged to review regulations and safety tips contained in the guide. Hunters may also be interested in reading DEC’s booklet, Hunting the Black Bear in New York, or DEC’s unit-by-unit Deer Hunting Forecasts.

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