Deer and Turkey Highlight the DIY Hunting Bounty of Central New York

Camouflaged hunter aiming down a rifle in the woods

Yes, New York’s borders are home to one of the world’s greatest cities. But, they also wrap around some of the country’s greatest outdoors.

Hunting is a popular pastime in upstate New York, especially when it comes to whitetail deer and wild turkey during fall and spring seasons. Each year, some 50,000 non-resident hunters join 700,000 New Yorkers in harvesting big and small game, birds and furbearers.

With nearly 19 million forested acres (about 63 percent of New York’s total land area), there’s plenty of room for successful hunts. Hunters and weekend road-trippers have some 3.7 million acres of state land to explore DIY without a guide or need for private owner permission.

Central New York boasts about 184,500 of those acres, including 144 state forests and preserves. The Adirondack and Catskill mountains are hunting friendly neighbors of Central New York, making this upstate region an ideal base camp for out-of-staters traveling with bows, rifles, muzzle-loaders or traps in tow.

Choose Your Game: Deer, Turkey and a Whole Lot More

Deer looking up in the woods

New York is famous for its robust whitetail deer population and about a quarter million are harvested annually. The Central New York counties of Otsego and Oneida are among the largest contributors to that total.

The state is considered one of the tops for turkey. In fact, New York was recently ranked among the nation’s top five by LiveOutdoors.

But, New York isn’t limited to deer and turkey. The state is home to an impressive variety of game and something is always in season.

Get Your Hunting License

Hunters can take a DIY road trip to New York on the cheap. The cost of non-resident hunting licenses was cut by nearly 30 percent to $100 in 2013. Additional permits cost $30 or less.

It’s easy to order licenses and tags online, however the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends allowing two weeks for them to arrive.

Once the license and permits are in hand, non-resident hunters are ready to head to some of Central New York’s top spots both on and off the beaten path.

Whitney Point Multiple Use Area

Largely regarded as a top spot for hikers and water recreationists, the Whitney Point Multiple Use Area just north of Binghamton is quietly one of the finest hunting grounds in Broome County.

Its 4,157 acres spread out over 12 miles harbor many whitetail deer, waterfowl and small game species.

New York’s Public Hunting Capital

Chenango County includes 63,700-plus acres that make up 32 state lands, making it home to the most public wilderness in New York state outside of the Adirondacks.

Most any state forest here, Pharsalia Woods, McDonough and Whaupaunaucau among them, can be just as rewarding for hunters as they are for hikers.

A Leatherstocking Gem in Otsego County

The Lordsland Conservancy in Otsego County was a popular hunting ground for the Mohawk Indians and carries on that legacy today.

Now preserved by The Nature Conservancy, this relatively small 80-acre plot still produces game worthy of Leatherstocking lore. Cooperstown and Otsego County are the birthplace of The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper and the four famous “Leatherstocking Tales” that followed, after all.

Mine Kill State Park

Camouflaged girl holding a hunting bow

Schoharie County’s Mine Kill is one of the few state parks that allow hunting.

Bow hunting for deer is permitted here, but also coveted as the New York Power Authority (NYPA) holds a lottery each year. Prospective hunters must call the NYPA Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center at (800) 724-0309 for details.

Rural Grove and Yatesville Falls State Forests

Central New York’s most accessible hunting land may be in Montgomery County, where all four of its state forests are within around 10 miles of the New York State Thruway.

The plentiful whitetail population of the Rural Grove and Yatesville Falls state forests make those lands a good target for DIY hunters on a road trip through the Central New York outdoors.

Rural Grove and Yatesville Falls are also known for trapping of fur-bearing game. Trappers take beaver, muskrat, fox and coyote on just over 2,000 acres of land.

When the hunt is done, there are plenty of things to see and do in Central New York, also known as America’s Craft Brew Destination. Our small towns and brew communities are the perfect place to unwind.

No matter the season – hunting or otherwise – Central New York has something for every outdoor adventurer.