July 6, 2014

DEC announces proposed rule changes to implement new crossbow hunting law

ALBANY — With new state legislation authorizing the Department of Environmental Conservation to allow taking of big game (deer and bear) or small game by the use of a crossbow at certain times and places in New York, DEC is now accepting public comment on proposed regulation changes so crossbows may be a legal implement for the fall 2014 hunting seasons. 

DEC will accept written public comment on the proposed hunting rule changes through July 21. 

“Crossbow hunting is growing across the country and Governor Cuomo’s commitment to increase hunting opportunities here in New York State is demonstrated by the signing of the new law to authorize the use of crossbows for hunting under certain circumstances,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release.

Specifically, the law changes authorize DEC to:

• Allow the taking of deer and bear by the use of a crossbow during a limited portion of the early bow-hunting seasons (14 days at the end of the existing bow-hunting season in the Southern Zone, and 10 days in the Northern Zone) and during any big-game hunting season in which use of a firearm (shotgun, rifle or muzzleloader) is allowed, except for the Youth Deer Hunting weekend and the January firearms deer season on Long Island.

• Allow the taking of small-game mammals, wild turkey and other upland game birds by the use of a crossbow during their respective hunting seasons.

DEC’s proposed rule changes also clarify the technical descriptions of a legal crossbow and the license privilege and training requirements for any person hunting with a crossbow, as specified in legislation. The new law prohibits all hunting with crossbows in Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties or in the archery-only portions of Albany and Monroe counties; DEC’s proposed rule reflects these restrictions.

Details of the proposed rule can be viewed in the June 4 publication of the New York State Register and on DEC’s website at For a general summary of the law, see DEC’s information on crossbow hunting at DEC’s position on crossbow use for deer hunting is provided in Appendix 5 of the NYS Deer Management Plan (

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