Hunting and Trapping Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Hunting and Trapping Newsletter

DEC Wishes Hunters an Enjoyable, Safe, and Successful Hunting Season!

Several generations of hunters pose together for a photo

Hunting season, and particularly deer season, evokes many feelings for hunters across New York. With the firearms seasons now open in both the northern and southern zones, hunters are once again enjoying the beauty of our fields and forests pursuing white-tailed deer. Deer are by far the most popular game animal in the state, and over 550,000 people buy licenses each year for an opportunity to hunt them. Hunters from all walks of life will be out looking to fill freezers and capture memories. Some hunters will be headed to a tent camp in the state’s wilderness areas or staying with family in a simple cabin on a few acres in farm country. Some hunters will be trying to get a deer in the few hours they have between work shifts and others will be taking advantage of the precious few weekends during the season. Some hunters will be entering their first deer seasons and others will be living their last.

Irrespective of where you hunt or how you hunt, regardless of whether you hold out for a larger buck or take the first deer you see, it’s important to enjoy yourself and others around you. While the deer may be the main attraction, it’s the people and places you experience that create the memories that stick with us. If you listen to enough “huntin'” stories, you’ll quickly realize that giant bucks are often not the main characters in the tale!

Slow down, be safe, follow established hunting regulations, and be in the moment. Hunting is more than filling a tag and DEC hopes you have a great season regardless of how you choose to experience it.

Photo courtesy of R. Dergostis

Best Practices for Trap Placement

Careful trapper photographed in the field

Trap location and placement is the most important factor when it comes to being a successful and selective trapper. This is also important for trappers to avoid nontarget animals, especially domestic dogs. On public lands and other areas where trappers may be active, pet owners can protect their dogs by keeping them on a leash.

Regulations limit trap placement specifically with the intention to avoid non-target captures, and there are additional considerations all trappers must keep in mind while setting traps. Trappers should avoid frequently used trails, set body-grip traps off the ground or in a container or cubby, place larger size traps well away from roads, or use foot encapsulating raccoon traps or cage traps in highly populated areas. By following these best practices, most, if not all non-target captures can be eliminated, and trappers can maintain a positive relationship with all outdoor enthusiasts. 

Photo courtesy of T. Pyszczynski

January Deer Hunting Season in Suffolk County

The 2024 firearms deer season in Suffolk County will begin Sunday, Jan. 7, and continue through Jan. 31, 2024, including weekends.  

New York State laws require that lands eligible for firearms deer hunting must be at least 10 acres in size and hunters must possess a valid big game hunting license, a signed landowner’s endorsement, and a town permit where required (towns of Southampton, Islip, and Smithtown). Deer may only be taken by: 

  • Shotgun, using a single ball or slug; or
  • Muzzleloading rifle or muzzleloading pistol, shooting a single projectile having a minimum bore of 0.44 inches. 

For further information on regulations and public lands available for firearms hunting in January, visit January Firearms Deer Hunting Season in Suffolk County.

Hunters should check with local towns and villages to determine any local restrictions or discharge ordinances prior to going afield. To hunt for deer on DEC-managed lands during the firearms season, hunters must enter a drawing. Entries must be received by 4:45 p.m. on Dec. 4. Hunters must complete the online entry form. Hunters may only send one entry. Individuals who send more than one entry will have all their entries removed from the drawing. Each member of a two-hunter party may send one entry.

Drawing entrants will receive a notice on or before Dec. 8 telling them when to appear at the Ridge Hunter Check Station to make a reservation to hunt on DEC-managed lands. Reservations will be made Dec. 18-21.  

Additional shotgun deer hunting opportunities may be available to Suffolk County residents. Please contact Suffolk County Department of Parks at (631) 854-4949 for additional information on opportunities within Suffolk County Parks.  

The regular (bow hunting) season for deer in Suffolk County will also continue through Jan. 31, 2024. Hunters looking to archery hunt on state-managed lands during the extended season can find information on DEC's website.  All hunters are required to have a DEC-Managed Lands Access Permit to hunt on these properties.  

DEC Launches Redesigned and Mobile-Friendly Website

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officially debuted a redesigned public website.

The redesigned site offers a more responsive design and intuitive functionality, whether visitors are using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or handheld device. Features include streamlined navigation and new content presentation capabilities that allow DEC to better integrate video and other visual media. Updated DEC website URLs are all plain text, improving the ability of search engines to find and connect users to content. To ensure visitors can still find their favorite web pages from the old design, DEC has established redirects to the new web pages. 

Expanded, task-focused navigation makes it easier for visitors to find regulatory, environmental protection, licensing, and environmental education content and resources more quickly. Larger call-to-action sections make it easy to purchase licenses, search for job openings, sign up for topic-specific newsletters through DEC Delivers, or subscribe to DEC’s Conservationist Magazine.

To experience the website redesign, learn more about DEC’s programs, or find your next outdoor adventure, go to