Hunting & Trapping
DEP allows both big and small game hunting on designated City-owned water supply lands. Designated hunting areas are available for bow, shotgun, rifle, handgun, and muzzleloader hunting where permitted by New York State regulations. Hunters and trappers must possess a valid New York State hunting license and they must follow all applicable New York State hunting regulations, including weapons restrictions, species restrictions, and hunting during the proper seasons for the allowed game.
Although DEP no longer issues separate Hunting Tags and DEP Access Permits are no longer required on “Public Access Areas,” DEP Access Permits are still required on those properties posted with signs that read “Entry by Permit”. Because other restrictions may exist on New York City water supply lands, all hunters and trappers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with DEP’s Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply Lands and Water.
Hunting on City-owned lands generally begins each fall on September 1 (the first day of squirrel season) and ends at the close of spring turkey season on May 31. Interested hunters should refer to Open Recreation Areas and Use Designations by County for specific DEP properties that are available for hunting during specific seasons.
Trapping is only allowed on Public Access Areas and trappers must possess a valid New York State trapping license and follow all applicable New York State trapping regulations, including species restrictions and seasons.
Quality Deer Management (QDM)
Many hunters are probably familiar with the term “Quality Deer Management” (QDM) from hunting magazines and other sources. QDM is the concept that a deer herd is healthiest when females (does) and males (bucks) co-exist in a one-to-one balance and young bucks are allowed to grow into bigger, stronger, mature bucks that will pass their genetic material on to future generations. Thus, QDM focuses on bringing deer populations down to levels that the landscape can support over the long-term, primarily through the increased harvesting of does and restrictions on the harvesting of immature bucks. This management approach is particularly important in the City’s water supply watersheds where estimates of the female-to-male deer ratio may be as high as three-to-one in some areas. Heavy deer browse impacts on vegetation not only impacts the growth of young tree seedlings into a healthy and diverse forest, but it threatens the very habitat that deer need to survive.
A QDM project is currently underway in Putnam County in partnership with the Kent Rod and Gun Club and with support from the Putnam County Sportsmen’s Federation and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Kent Rod and Gun Club unanimously decided to practice QDM on their own lands. To assist with this effort, DEP instituted QDM principles on the following City-owned lands in the towns of Kent and Putnam Valley:
- Richardsville Unit;
- West Branch Headwaters Unit;
- Knapp Road Unit; and
- Boyds Corner North Unit.
On the QDM hunting areas, the following enforceable conditions apply to all hunters over 17 years of age:
- Only does may be harvested on the first two days of bow season, the first two days of regular gun season, and the first two days of muzzleloader season—no bucks may be taken on these days.
- On all other days of the legal hunting season, bucks may be harvested if they have an antler spread of at least 15 inches in width and/or a minimum of three points on a side greater than one inch long, excluding brow tines.
Throughout the hunting season in general, all hunters are encouraged to harvest more does than bucks to help with maintaining balanced herd populations and healthier forests.