Game birds are a similar story. With the exception of pigeon shoots—raised for the gun, they are often released in such number than even a fool with a slingshot will at least wing one—grouse, pheasant, turkey, woodcock, ducks, geese, and the like offer sport enough and good eating if you have a favorite recipe augmented with dried fruit, wine or bourbon, and plenty of seasoning, and you don’t mind plucking feathers and digging out the buckshot.
Note that you can’t shoot just anything. “In New York State,” says the DEC, taking a hard line, “nearly all species of wildlife are protected. Most species, including endangered species, songbirds, hawks and owls, are fully protected and may not be taken. The few unprotected species [that is, plentiful and probably pests—Ed.] include porcupine, red squirrel, woodchuck, English sparrow, starling, rock pigeon, and monk parakeet. [Monk parakeet?] Unprotected species may be taken at any time without limit.” Sort of: Wholesale slaughter will be frowned upon by others, if not the DEC.
“There are ten species of furbearers that may be hunted: coyote, bobcat, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, and muskrat. Mink and muskrat may only be hunted under special conditions.“
You need a state hunting license, and the correct one. For example, “A hunting license is required to hunt unprotected wildlife with a bow, crossbow, or firearm.”
The implement of your death-dealing: It’s a little tricky and involves various restrictions about hours, sometimes days, weaponry (rifle, shotgun, pistol, muzzleloader, crossbow, bow, compound bow), and projectile (approved and forbidden arrows, shot sizes, bullet sizes, number of bullets in a magazine [max six]), and arcana such as whether a rifle is allowed during deer season for non-deer hunting (no, we think, but a .17 might be).
“The only turtle species for which there is an open hunting season is the snapping turtle. You may not harvest, take, or possess any other turtle species at any time.” Nor may you “harvest, take, or possess any native snakes, lizards, or salamanders at any time.”
Let’s not leave the meat section without reference to roadkill. Chefs swear by fresh roadkill, so do gourmands of game. This is beyond our expertise but here are several trustworthy sources:
Fishing: With certain pride, New York’s DEC states, “We offer many exciting opportunities to fish with more than 7,500 lakes and ponds, 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, and hundreds of miles of coastline.” The sea coast we’ll leave to another website.
Each year the DEC stocks around 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in hundreds of lakes and ponds and roughly 3,100 miles of streams. About 1,300 miles of these have 33-foot state easements that allow fishing access to the water.
Not far from here are storied, world-famous New York trout streams such as the Beaverkill, Willowemoc Creek, the West Branch of the Ausable, the West Branch of the Delaware, the Neversink, Espopus Creek, the Upper Genessee, the Chateauguay, and many others, fed by the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and limestone springs. Some sections are strictly catch-and-release. Few of the famous riffs and holes are free of fishing pressure, however, as the sport continues to attract newcomers.
Larger ponds and lakes that aren’t full of weeds, lilies, or foreign invaders such as milfoil or the especially pernicious zebra mussels—they severe the food chain at the bottom—often make for wonderful fishing, and the state’s fish and game officers enthusiastically stock many of them annually with bass and trout and perhaps other tasty fish they are trying out.
Fishing in any body of New York water unless you own it requires a state license. If you fish a lot in different waters, the best deal is probably the Empire Pass, good for a year and currently $80 online. Short-terms passes are widely available at outdoor-gear shops and country stores.
Foraging: Frugivores and herbivores happy to do their own foraging will find many wild treats in New York fields and forests in season, for example various berries, fungi, and tree fruit, the latter possibly survivors of a farm’s erstwhile orchard. Likewise vegetables and herbs, but here let us refer you to Euell Theophilus Gibbons and his acolytes, as willy-nilly snacking in nature is likely to get you poisoned or, far less often, inexpediently high.
For more information, the Department of Environmental Conservation is the reliable source in New York State for all things natural.