How does the most abundant population of whitetail deer in New York sound? Welcome to Steuben County, located in the Southern Finger Lakes region. This, combined with plentiful fishing opportunities in several lakes and the Chemung River, make Steuben County an exciting hunting and fishing destination for sportsmen and women nationwide. Follow this quick start guide and plan an unforgettable trip today.
One of the main reasons that Steuben County is on so many hunters “must-visit” lists is because it has more deer per square mile than anywhere else in New York. Sportsmen have access to the region's 28,000 acres of public hunting land, as well as several privately owned hunting preserves. The county has been home to the largest number of deer harvested for several years running and its commitment to Quality Deer Management ensures it will keep topping the list for years to come. In addition to deer, the county consistently ranks in near the top for most bears taken in a season and for superb turkey hunting.
Where to go: You can take advantage of these natural resources the easy way with a privately owned hunting preserve. Take the guesswork out of where to go and how to get there. These experiences often come with a guide and offer accommodation and some even come with a meal package. All properties operate Quality Deer Management Programs and fill all Doe Permits with mature does, and harvest only 8 points or better bucks. Some of your options include:
Steuben Lodge: Located near South Canisteo, N.Y., Steuben Lodge has four different hunting areas that cover a total of 615 acres. It supplies a diversified habitat and varied terrain for guests to enjoy. There is one lodge available that has its own airstrip for hunters with want to fly in via plane.
ABC Ranch: For a prime hunting opportunity with all of the comforts of home, ABC Ranch in Canisteo delivers the goods. Located on a 2,500-acre working cattle ranch, it has two camps for rent. Each camp has 400 acres that are only for the private use of the guests of each cabin, with an additional 1,500 acres that are available for both camps to hunt.
Button’s Creekside Bed and Breakfast: This working farm and a full-service bed & breakfast is a perfect option for a family adventure. The hunters can enjoy the 300 acres of hunting land, and the non-hunters will be ideally situated to explore wineries, Keuka Lake, and the other charms of Steuben County.
Visitors who want to plan their own trip will find public land to hunt, with over 50 square miles accessible. Here is a selection of hotspots that locals say are tried and true:
Erwin Mountain State Forest near Gang Mills
Pinnacle State Park near Addison
Tracy Creek State Forest near Rathbone
Cameron Mills State Forest near Cameron
Stock Up Here: Planning for a trip always involves long lists of items, both large and small, and sometimes things get left on the floor of the garage or on the kitchen table. Don’t fret, the Edge of Time Trading Post in Prattsburgh has got it covered. Known state-wide for their commitment to customer service they have a full-service archery and hunting pro-shop, extensive fishing supplies, and much more. Looking specifically for a gun shop for a part or something new? Don’t miss Louies Gun Shop in Bath.
When to Go: Steuben County falls into the Southern Zone for the New York State hunting seasons. The regular deer and bear seasons usually run from mid-November to early December and turkey season from mid-October to early November. For all other game seasons check out the NYS guide.
In a place known for its breathtaking waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and streams there is a place to find ideal fishing for expert anglers and first-timers. The Finger Lakes feature some of the best fishing in the northeast and Steuben County’s watershed, stocked with over 30,000 trout annually, is the ideal spot to experience it.
Where to go: It’s no surprise that the headline venue for fishing is the unique Y-shaped Keuka Lake. Lake trout and several varieties of bass call this shimmering jewel home. There’s even a chance to hook a prize winner with some of the biggest bass in the region often landed here. Also swimming these storied waters are landlocked salmon, black crappie, pickerel, and the favorite of all newbies, yellow perch. The action lasts all year round here, and Keuka is an excellent spot to give ice fishing a try. There are four public access sites: Keuka State Park, Indian Pines Park, and the Guyanoga Creek Site are all located off Route 54A, and Village of Penn Yan Site is located off Route 14A.
The Conhocton River runs through central Steuben County and is well known for its brown trout. The Department of Environmental Conservation stocks the northern stretch from Kanona to Cohocton each spring, and the number of anglers there is often light. It's easy to find a deep hole for some solitude with full public access along state Route 415 near Kanona.
Smallmouth bass and walleye are the grand dames of the waters of the Chemung River. Prime fishing season is summer and fall, but walleye and muskie bite well into December. The river also has an extensive catfish population. Local anglers tend to fish the sections of the river at the Chase-Hibbard Dam and the Dunn Field boat launch in Elmira. However, since the river runs parallel I-86, there are ample spots for public access.
With a limited amount of time and so many options, you may want to take advantage of one of the many experienced guides in the area. Start with these licensed guides with decades who have been fishing these waters for decades.
Fishing the Finger Lakes Guide and Charter Service specializes in bass fishing
Bobber’s Fishing Excursions features family-friendly outings—bring the kids along
Keuka Lake Bigfoot Charters is a full-service charter, and it can furnish a variety of lures, baits, rods, and reels.
Stock Up Here: There’s no need to bring bait from home or panic if tackle gets lost in the water, several shops across the county will get you hooked up with fresh gear and seasonal advice. Here’s a handful to get started:
Bubba’s Bait Shop, Hammondsport
Swarthout's Bait & Tackle Shop, Elmira
Conhocton River Fly Shop, Bath
When to go: New York State's freshwater fishing seasons vary by species. Some species can be caught year-round and others have seasons. Visit the Statewide Angling Regulations for details. No matter the season or length of stay, sportsman simply can’t go wrong with a trip to the Southern Finger Lakes. It’s almost guaranteed to come home with a prize.
Written by Lisa Collard for RootsRated Media in partnership with Steuben County CVB.