New York State (WIBX) - Hunters across the state will soon have their chance at pheasants, as the Department of Conservation prepares to introduce thousands of birds to public hunting areas.

The DEC will release about 30,000 pheasants for the upcoming season, slated to begin on October 20th in the central and western portions of the state and October 1st in the northern and eastern areas of New York. Long Island's season begins November 1st.

Youth hunters also get a chance, thanks to a pheasant hunt weekend before the regular season begins. For the sixth straight year, hunters ages 12 to 15 can try to bag a bird, while learning and following the same rules established for the regular season.

DEC officials remind hunters that they are allowed to use a 2011-12 license during September, but must have a 2012-13 license starting October 1st.

For those interested in helping the agency raise more pheasants, the Day-old Pheasant Chick Program is making a return. Prospective owners, including sportsmen, sportswomen and 4-H groups, are encouraged to take home a baby bird.

During May and June, chicks are distributed to owners and are taken care of until they reach adulthood, then released onto public land for hunting. Those interested in joining the program are asked to contact the Reynold's Game Farm in Ithaca.