Hunting is generally a fall activity, when wildlife populations are at their highest. Seasons can be set for a single animal or for a group of animals, but they vary from state to state. Weapons can also be season-specific. The following is a breakdown of the major game animals including broad season descriptions. Be sure to check with your state fish and wildlife agency for specific dates and regulations.
White-tailed deer – The most popular game animal in the United States is hunted by rifle, muzzleloader (a single-shot rifle loaded from the muzzle), archery (compound or primitive bows) or crossbow. Archery seasons generally start in September and can run through January. There can be breaks in the season to allow for other types of weapons like crossbow or muzzleloader. Rifle seasons generally permit all types of weapons. For landowners concerned about high-powered rifles, archery can be an excellent alternative.
Wild turkey – The fastest growing form of hunting is done in both fall and spring with shotguns or archery equipment. Fall seasons are open to either male or female turkeys and can start in October and run through December. Season lengths on wild turkey are usually more restrictive than on deer. The spring season is for males only and generally runs from April through May.
Migratory birds – Ducks, geese, woodcock and doves have seasons based on a federal framework. Shotgun season generally starts in September and runs through January. Seasons can be highly variable, so always check current regulations.
Small game – Squirrels, rabbits, grouse, quail and pheasant are the most common animals in this classification. Small game hunting with a shotgun or a .22-caliber rifle is an excellent way to get youth started in the sport. Seasons can begin in August (squirrels) and run through February.