Hunting Rules and Regulations
All hunters are expected to follow all Cornell University Lands Hunting Program Rules and Regulations, and to conduct themselves in a safe and ethical manner. Hunters that meet these criteria will remain eligible for annual renewals.
In addition to these general Cornell University Deer Hunting Program Rules and Regulations, all hunting activities must be conducted in accordance with the conditions stated on the approved permit and for program and hunting zone specific rules and regulations.
Permits and Licenses
- A Cornell University issued permit is required to legally hunt on University-owned lands. Hunters must possess a valid NYSDEC big game license before applying for a Cornell University Hunting Permit.
- The Cornell University Hunting Permit is specific to the hunter, and may not be used by or assigned to any other individual. The permit must be presented upon demand to any Cornell official or Law Enforcement officer. The University reserves the right to revoke this permit at any time.
- Online permit application is now closed.
- To apply, hunters must agree to a Cornell University Police criminal background check.
- Hunters shall comply with all state and local laws and ordinances governing hunting activities.
- Note that many archery sites remain open to the public during hunting season, but firearm sites are closed to the public during respective firearm seasons. Please be aware of hiking trails, do not hunt within 30 yards of trails, and be courteous to other users.
- Hunters must visibly wear their Cornell hunting program identification tag (supplied with permit) on their person, and display their parking permit in their vehicle dashboard at all times while hunting.
- Use of vehicles on University owned lands is prohibited. Hunters must hike into and out of all hunting areas from designated parking areas. Hunters who possess a NYSDEC Non-Ambulatory Hunter Permit should refer to program websites for exceptions.
- To keep on good terms with our neighbors, do not enter a neighbor’s property to track deer without their permission.
- Hunters are required to wear 250 square inches of solid or patterned blaze orange or fluorescent pink hat and/or vest at all times while deer hunting during firearms seasons in areas where firearms are permitted. Archery only areas are exempt from this rule.
- Only white-tailed deer may be hunted.
- It is the hunter’s responsibility to know the hunting seasons and legal hunting implements for New York State and for each Cornell Deer Management Program site. Firearm use is prohibited in bow and crossbow management zones.
- A hunter may be accompanied by no more than one non-hunter (e.g., spouse, child, friend, etc.). The non-hunter 1) must stay with the hunter at all times, 2) may not carry a weapon, and 3) may not trade roles with the hunter while in the field. The hunter agrees to take full responsibility for a child, to keep the child within sight and reach, and to directly supervise the child at all times.
- Tree stands and ground blinds are allowed. All tree stands and ground blinds must be legibly marked with owner’s first and last name and phone number. Any tree stand or ground blind that pierces the bark on a tree is PROHIBITED. No permanent tree stands or screw-in tree steps may be used. Cornell is not responsible for stolen tree stands or ground blinds. Small tree limbs (< 1 inch diameter) may be trimmed to set up the tree stand or ground blind, but not for clearing shooting lanes. Only commercial ground blinds may be used. To preserve Cornell lands, hunters may not collect and use surrounding wood, brush, or vegetation to further blend in their commercial blind. Hunters may install temporary tree stands and ground blinds two weeks before archery season and must remove them no later than one week following the conclusion of the hunting season. To cover the cost of removing stands that do not comply with these regulations, hunters will reimburse Cornell Botanic Gardens $75.
- Hunters must make reservations through the deer hunting reservation system to hunt. Reservations must be removed if hunters are not able to hunt on the reserved day. Repeated failure to remove unused reservations will result in the hunting permit being revoked.
- Hunting and harvest activity must be reported within 3 days of hunting.
- All participants are expected to initiate proactive communications with the University deer management program administrator should problems arise in the course of their activities at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you harvest an antlered deer, you will be required to harvest an antlerless deer within two years to maintain eligibility in the program for future years.
- No fires, camping, or littering.
- Use of drugs and alcohol will not be tolerated.
News and Updates for 2022
Special note: Our reservation system is aging and may fail unexpectedly. If this happens, all reservations are immediately cancelled and all hunting activities must stop until further notice.
- Limited use of ATVs is now allowed at F9, only. Hunters using ATVs at F9 must follow the rules posted for their use on the F9 reservation page.
- New NYS firearm law: become familiar with your new responsibilities here
- Extended hunting hours: NYS DEC now allows harvest of deer 30 min. before sun up and 30 min. after sunset.
- Management Assistance Program: DMAP permits will not be offered for the 2022 hunting seasons.
- Rifles: Rifles will again be allowed at all firearm hunting sites, except for those limited to muzzleloaders. NYS has not approved the use of firearms for deer hunting in Tompkins County beyond the 2024 hunting seasons.
- Unless otherwise noted, all areas previously in the Deer Management Program that are NOT listed on the program reservation site will be posted and closed to hunting. Individuals trespassing or illegally hunting on these properties will be prosecuted.
- Arnot Hunting Program: The deer hunting program for Arnot Forest is being managed separately. For information and to apply to that program, please visit their website.
- On-line Deer Management System: Approximately 2-3 weeks after passing the test and completing the permit application, you will be notified of your approval for the Cornell Deer Management Program via email. You then will be required to create an on-line account for our Deer Management System in order to print out your permit, maps, manage all hunting reservations, and report hunting and harvest activity. Hunters must make reservations for specifics sites and days through the Deer Management System in order to hunt. Reservations must also be removed if hunters are not able to hunt on the reserved day. Repeated failure to remove unused reservations will result in the hunting permit being revoked.
- Rewards and incentives: Continuing this year, we are providing a reward and incentive component to our deer program through how our reservation system works. Returning, veteran hunters that have harvested an antlerless deer in the prior year will be allowed to make reservations for 7 days in advance the day’s date. All other hunters will be allowed to make reservations for 3 days in advance of the day’s date.
- Hunting Activity and Harvest Reporting: All hunters must report harvest and hunting activity within three days after hunting for each reservation. You will not be able to make additional reservations until reporting activity is completed. Completing hunting activity and harvest reports for unfilled/non-hunted reservations is also required. Hunters with outstanding reports at after the hunting season closes risk losing the privilege to participate in the program
- Deer Management Focus Areas: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has continues to implement the Deer Management Focus Area (DMFA) for 60,000 acres surrounding Ithaca. This program was established in central Tompkins County to intensify use of hunting to assist communities with the burden of overabundant deer populations. The DMFA program is established to reduce total deer populations within the focus area by providing more time and more tags to hunters who can gain access to huntable land. Hunters who register to participate in the focus area program may legally harvest two antlerless deer per day during the regular season and during a special DMFA season from the second Saturday in January through January 31, 2023. REGISTER for the Deer Management Focus Area.
- Small Game Hunting: Small game hunting is not allowed under your Cornell Deer Management Program Permit. In order to request a small game permit and locate areas that are open to small game hunting on University property, please visit the Arnot Forest website.
- Special Seasons: Cornell Botanic Gardens is NOT participating in this year’s youth firearm hunt. Youth firearm hunting during this season is prohibited. Similarly, no hunting is allowed in our program during the new holiday hunt (December 26-January 1).
- Crossbows: It is legal to hunt with crossbows in New York State. Crossbows may be used during the last two weeks of the archery season and during all respective firearm and DMFA seasons. Crossbows are allowed in designated crossbow and firearm areas.
- Setback distances: Discharge restrictions for archery and crossbow equipment were legally changed in 2014. Archery discharge restriction is now 150′ from an inhabited dwelling; Crossbow discharge restriction is 250′. Shotgun and muzzleloader distances remain unchanged at 500′. It is the hunter’s obligation to know the setback restrictions and locations of neighboring residences.
- Collared or Ear-tagged Deer: If a hunter takes a collared or ear-tagged deer, you must report it in your hunting log. Also, please send an e-mail to Mike Ashdown (email@example.com) stating the date and location where the tagged deer was harvested.
Deer Management Focus Area
Hunters that wish to participate in the Deer Management Focus Area Program on Cornell Deer Management Program properties within the DMFA zone must also possess a Cornell Deer Management Program PERMIT. Hunters who wish to participate in the January season must apply to the DEC for a DMFA Permit. Note that a DEC issued DMFA Permit is NOT a Cornell issued PERMIT. Hunters without a Cornell issued permit will be prosecuted. For more information on the DMFA program, see the News and Updates section below.
Click the links below for the hunting program locator maps:
Tompkins County Deer Management Focus Area Boundary Map
More about the Cornell Deer Management Program
2014-2022 Program Summary
Harvest and Activity for each hunting site recorded each year beginning in 2014.