With rifle season fast approaching, Forest Service officials on the Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) are encouraging the public to use caution and to be visible and mindful of their surroundings in the coming weeks. Saturday, November 20th marks opening day of the white-tailed deer rifle hunt for New York’s southern zone, a lifelong tradition for many New Yorkers and visitors to the Empire State.

Through prescribed fire, timber management, and wildlife monitoring programs, the FLNF works year-round to enhance wildlife habitat, including that for large and small game. Officials want to remind hunters and other forest users that the entire 16,000-acre National Forest is open for hunting, the only exceptions are developed trails and recreation sites. As with any recreational opportunity on the FLNF, all applicable state and federal laws and regulations must be followed. Below are some safety tips for hunters that may be planning to hunt on the FLNF:


  • Clearly identify your target before shooting to prevent accidents or fatalities. Fire only at clearly identified wildlife and know what is beyond your target.
  • Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well.
  • Check weather reports before visiting the forest — dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
  • Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return — be familiar with the area that you are hunting.
  • Wear blaze orange and try to be visible from all directions.
  • Check hunting equipment before and after each outing and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with the operation of your firearm before using it in the field.
  • Carry a spare set of dry clothes. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture retention, while maintaining body warmth.
  • Always bring waterproof gear.
  • Have a first aid kit, flashlight, cell phone, food and water in case of an emergency.


With the COVID-19 pandemic still present in our local community hunters should be cognizant of other forest users. The forest is open to all other lawful uses including mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Non-hunters who plan to use the National Forest during hunting season should also be cognizant of hunters using the same locations they may be utilizing. The Forest Service recommends wearing blaze orange while hunting seasons are running concurrent with your visit. If recreating with household animals such as a dog, officials suggest that they are visible and remain on a leash.

For additional information on New York hunting regulations, please visit:

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, see

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