Bowhunting in New York State

Bowhunting offers a unique opportunity to combine the sport of archery with the thrill of the hunt.  New York State offers numerous excellent locations for bowhunting, and every year thousands of hunters discover yet another reason to love New York.  The Empire State offers an extended early archery season – normally running from mid-October until the middle of November when regular deer season begins.  Bowhunters area also allowed to hunt into December, after regular deer season concludes.

Here is a rundown of five of the best places for bowhunting in New York State.

Allegany State Park

Located in Salamanca in the western part of New York, Allegany State Park offers 65,000 acres for hunting making it the third largest state park in the northeast.  Allegany is rich with dense forests with a rugged terrain, and is part of the Appalachian chain of mountains.

Deer are attracted to the park’s overgrown meadows and orchards where they find plenty of food for grazing.  Because of its remote location and the mountainous terrain, fewer hunters frequent this park than others in the state, and the chances of spotting a large buck are far greater. In fact, the buck harvest in this park averages about four per square mile.

Allegany State Park has over 300 campsites as well as 357 cabins, all of which are open for hunters during the season. For camping or cabins, reservations are required in advance.

Allegany State Park is located in Cattaraugus County and is accessible from the Southern Tier Expressway (I-86/Route 17) or Route 219 from the west.

Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area

Located in western New York in the Finger Lakes region, The Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area offers over 5,000 acres of woodlands, fields, meadows, and orchards. The area, which straddles Livingston and Allegany counties, gets its name from the timber rattlesnake, which can still be spotted in this park.

Rattlesnake Hill WMA is home to a wide variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and geese.  There are several marsh areas where hunters may also spot beavers, minks and raccoons.

This park is located south of Rochester, eight mile west of Dansville.  To reach Rattlesnake Hill WMA, take I- 390 to Dansville, and then follow Route 436 west to Schute Road.  Take a left on Schute and then another left into the park.

Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area

With over 11,000 acres, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area is the state’s largest wildlife management area.  Also part of the Appalachian chain, this area features rugged terrain along with some meadow areas.  The park is rich with foliage, and deer are especially attracted to the beechnuts. The deer harvest in this wildlife area also averages four per square mile.

Located on the border of Tompkins and Schuyler counties, the Connecticut Hill WMA is off Route 13 between Elmira and Ithaca.

Indian Lake

Located in the beautiful Adirondacks, Indian Lake is one of New York’s most rugged hunting areas.  With peaks as high as 3,800 feet, this area offers a real challenge to bowhunters.  But even those who are less athletically inclined can find lush valleys and meadows in which to hunt.

Although the deer population is low in the Adirondacks, deer tend to travel during the day because the food supply is less plentiful.  This presents a challenge to the bowhunter and yet the area is attractive simply because fewer hunters venture there.

The park is best reached from the village of Indian Lake, which is located at the junction of Routes 30 and 28.  For maps or more information about hunting in the Adirondacks, contact the New York State Division of Tourism.

The Catskill Forest Preserve

Offering over 300,000 acres, the Catskill Forest Preserve offers beautiful mountain vistas and easy access for downstate hunters.  The deer population is a bit higher than in the Adirondacks, but bowhunters are advised to south locations before the season in order to maximize the chance of spotting deer.

Hunters should also note that a lot of the acreage in this park is private property.  The state does own some land within the preserve and maps are available detailing those areas.

Catskill Park straddles four counties – Ulster, Greene, Delaware and Sullivan counties.  Interstate 87 (NYS Thruway) runs through the eastern boundaries of Catskill Park, and Route 17 skims the park’s southern border.

These five areas are only a few of the many areas open to New York bowhunters.  This state is rich in mountains, forests, and meadows, all of which present a challenge to bowhunters of any skill level.  Both instate and out of state bowhunters are welcome.