The use of shotguns to hunt waterfowl in South Fork bays and marshes will begin this coming weekend and continue through the end of January, the Town Trustees in Southampton and East Hampton warned new year-round residents this week.
With more residents in the area this fall than in a typical off-season, the Trustees in both towns are warning new full-time residents not to be startled by the sound of gun shots over local waters.
“The concern is that there are a lot of people out here now that normally do not live here year-round and that a lot of people may not realize that we are still a rural area and that duck hunting has been a valued tradition here for centuries,” Southampton Town Trustee President Eric Shultz said. “We want to assure the new residents that hunting is extremely well regulated by the Trustees and that the sites are carefully selected to not pose any danger to the public.”
Most hunting takes place from floating wooden shelters known as “blinds,” which are covered with native marsh grasses and anchored in local creeks, bays and ponds.
The Town Trustees in Southampton and East Hampton control the bottomlands in all bays and harbors in the two towns and regulate where hunters may anchor hunting blinds or boats.
The Southampton Town Trustees and Southampton Town Bay Constables boast the largest managed waterfowl hunting program in the state, with 276 registered blinds or concealed boat locations. East Hampton has about 65 registered hunting locations, not counting those in Lake Montauk.
All hunting locations in both towns must be registered by their owner each year and are monitored for safety, distance from homes and roadways and for proper use. There is no limitation on a floating blind being adjacent to homes or public roadways as long as any shots fired are aimed out over the water. Field blinds or pits must be at least 500 feet from the neareast house or road.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sets other waterfowling rules regarding when hunting may take place, bag limits and the species of ducks and geese that may be targeted.
This coming weekend, November 7-8, is a special early hunting window during which only young hunters, ages 12-15, may shoot in the company of unarmed adults. Next weekend, November 14-15, will be another limited access hunting window for veterans and active military personnel. The traditional waterfowl season for all hunters will begin this year on November 21 and run through November 29, when it will close for two weeks before re-opening on December 12 and running through the end of January.
On all hunting days, shooting may begin one half-hour before sunrise (sunrise is 6:31 a.m. this Saturday, November 7, so shooting may begin at 6:01 a.m.) and must cease at sunset each day.
All waterfowl hunters must have taken an 8-hour hunting and gun safety course given by certified instructors and must purchase an annual New York State small game hunting license.
“We fully expect to be fielding more calls related to hunting this year just because of the presence of more second homeowners,” East Hampton Town Trustee James Grimes said. “We are already getting some calls from homeowners who suddenly have discovered they have a duck blind behind their house. I always make a point of explaining to people who call that hunting has a long history in this community and share with them all the information about how get a hunting license. Sometimes people’ minds change.”