The use and possession of firearms, ammunition and bowhunting equipment is regulated in the interest of public safety and the conservation of wildlife. Hunters are also subject to any federal, state, or municipal firearms regulations. General restrictions on the use of firearms, air guns and bowhunting equipment are described below.
Hunting — General
Sunday Hunting Prohibited: Possession of hunting implements on Sunday in the open is prima facie evidence of violation. Sunday hunting is allowed on licensed private shooting preserves when the operator has permission from the town.
Prima Facie Evidence of Hunting: Possession by any person of a loaded hunting implement while at or entering or leaving an area where a reasonable person would believe the objective was to take wildlife. Except that a person may, one hour before sunrise during the regulated deer and turkey firearms hunting seasons, be in possession of a loaded rifle or shotgun provided a live round is not in the chamber of the rifle or shotgun.
Loaded Hunting Implement: (A) a rifle or shotgun with a live round in the chamber or in a magazine which is attached to such rifle or shotgun, a muzzle-loaded firearm with the percussion cap in place, or a flintlock firearm with powder in the pan, (B) a bow and arrow with an arrow notched on the bow, (C) a drawn crossbow with a bolt in place, or (D) a high velocity air gun that is charged with a projectile in the chamber or in a magazine that is attached to such air gun.
Hunting While Under the Influence or Impaired: No person shall engage in hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or both, or while impaired by the consumption of intoxicating liquor.
Hunting Near Roads, Buildings, People, and Domestic Animals: Hunting or shooting from or across the travelled portion of any public roadway is prohibited. Shooting toward any person, building, or domestic animal when within range is prohibited.
Motor Vehicle/ATV Use: Hunting or shooting from a motor vehicle is prohibited. The use of all-terrain vehicles is prohibited on state land (see exceptions under Hunting Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities on Public Hunting Area Regulations).
Closed Season: No hunting and no training of dogs from October 11 through 7:00 a.m., EDT, on October 18, 2014, except for the hunting of rails in marshes; waterfowl hunting; legal deer, turkey, and coyote hunting; licensed private shooting preserves operating under the provisions of Sec. 26-48; field trials held under the provisions of Sec. 26-51 and Sec. 26-52; the training of hunting dogs under the provisions of Sec. 26-49 of the General Statutes; the training of hunting dogs on any area approved by the department for this purpose. There is also a closed season for hunting all other wildlife during the spring wild turkey seasons.
Electronic Calling Devices: The use of electronic calling devices is prohibited when hunting migratory birds (except crows) and turkeys. Electronic calling devices can be used when hunting crows, coyotes, other small game and deer.
The holder of a firearms hunting license may use rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, and high-velocity air guns subject to certain restrictions.
500 Foot Zone: It is prohibited to hunt with, shoot, or carry a loaded firearm within 500 feet of any building occupied by people or domestic animals, or used for storage of flammable material, or within 250 feet of such buildings when waterfowl hunting in tidal areas from land shooting positions or from floating blinds anchored adjacent to land or from rock positions, unless written permission for lesser distances is obtained from the owner and carried. Landowners, their spouse, and lineal descendants are exempt from this restriction, providing any building involved is their own. The 500 foot zone does not apply to bowhunting.
Firearms in Vehicles: It is prohibited to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Rifles and Handguns: Rifles or handguns using ammunition larger or heavier than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle cartridges are prohibited on state-owned land. Rifles or handguns of any caliber are prohibited on State-leased and Permit-Required Hunting Areas (see Permit-Required and State-Leased Hunting Area sections for exceptions). The use of rifles or handguns to hunt turkeys, waterfowl, or any other federally regulated migratory game bird (except crows) is prohibited. Hunting on private land with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle during the private land shotgun/rifle deer season is prohibited unless the user has a valid private land deer season permit and landowner consent form. The use of rifles or revolvers to hunt deer is subject to additional restrictions (see Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Season). The use of ammunition larger or heavier than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle to hunt raccoon or opossum at night is prohibited. A person using a handgun for hunting must possess any required state/town permits to carry. Note that it is legal to use .17 caliber rimfire firearms in all situations where it is legal to use .22 caliber rimfire long rifle firearms.
Shotguns: The possession of shotgun ammunition larger or heavier than #2 shot is prohibited on state-owned lands, state-leased lands, and Permit-Required Hunting Areas,at all times, and is prohibited on private lands during the Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Deer Season (see Permit-Required and State-Leased Hunting Area sections for exceptions). However, on any lands, waterfowlers hunting from a boat, blind, or stationary position may use up to and including size BB steel shot. The possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl is prohibited. The use of shotguns larger than 10-gauge for hunting waterfowl is prohibited. Shotguns must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells when hunting waterfowl, other migratory birds (except crows), deer on state lands, and turkey. The use of shotguns to hunt deer or turkey is subject to additional restrictions (see Deer Hunting and Turkey Hunting).
Muzzleloaders: During Muzzleloader Deer Seasons, a muzzleloader means a rifle or shotgun, .45 caliber minimum, incapable of firing a self-contained cartridge, using powder and a single projectile loaded separately at the muzzle end. Shotgun converters and telescopic sights are legal. Restrictions on the use of smoothbore muzzleloaders for hunting small game and waterfowl are the same as those for shotguns. Restrictions on the use of muzzleloading rifles for hunting small game are the same as those for rifles, except that on state-owned land, up to a .36 caliber muzzleloading rifle using round ball ammunition only may be used. A percussion/in-line muzzleloader with a cap or primer installed, an electronic muzzleloader with a battery connected or a flintlock muzzleloader having powder in the pan is considered a loaded firearm.
Bowhunter Education: All bowhunters must show proof when purchasing a small game/deer archery permit that they have completed the CE/FS bowhunting course (since 1982) or its equivalent from another state or country. If you have previously purchased a 2002, or later, Connecticut bowhunting license you have already provided such proof.
Legal Bows and Arrows: For the purposes of hunting deer and turkey, legal bows include long, recurved, or compound bows with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds and crossbows. Mechanical string release devices are permitted. Projectiles coated with any drug, poison or tranquilizing substance are prohibited.
Crossbows: The use of crossbows for hunting deer, turkey and all other species is permitted. Legal crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and permanent fixed rifle type stock with a functional mechanical safety device. Adjustable crossbow stocks are permitted, but folding stocks are not. The bolt (arrow) length must be at least 18 inches, excluding the broadhead. Crossbows are considered loaded when fully drawn with a bolt in place. Telescopic sights are permitted.
Legal arrowheads for hunting deer and turkey must have at least two blades and must be at least 7/8 inch wide at its widest point. Arrowheads that are designed to open on impact are legal provided they meet the above requirement.
Possession of a Firearm: Possession of a firearm while bowhunting for deer is prohibited.
Definition of Bag Limits
Daily Limit: the number of a particular species that may be taken by an individual during a day (from 12:01 a.m. to 12:00 midnight). While in the field, a hunter may not have in their possession more than the daily bag limit for a species.
Possession in Storage: the number of a particular non-migratory game species kept in storage may not exceed the cumulative daily bag limits for that species since the season began, and at no time can it exceed the season limit. The possession in storage of migratory game species such as waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, coots and rail may not exceed the federally regulated possession limit.
Season Limit: the total number of a particular species that may be taken during an open season.
Private Land Permission
All hunters are required to have permission from the landowner when hunting on private lands. Verbal permission for the hunting of species other than deer and turkey is sufficient.
Deer Hunters and Turkey Hunters: must have the written permission of the landowner for the current season on official DEEP forms. Copies of the form do not have to be sent to DEEP, but must be carried while hunting. Old forms, still available at some town clerks and DEEP offices, or a photocopy of the official form found in this guide must be used. Forms may also be downloaded from the DEEP website (www.ct.gov/deep/hunting). The form must be dated for the current season, indicate the weapon types authorized by the landowner, and have the landowner’s original signature. A landowner must have a minimum of 10 acres to authorize the use of a rifle or revolver for deer hunting. There is no minimum acreage requirement for using a shotgun, muzzleloader or archery equipment.
Landowners and Lineal Descendants: are exempt from the requirement to carry written permission while hunting deer or turkey on their own land.
During the period September 1 through the last day of February, hunters (including persons hunting with deer damage permits) are required to wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the waist and visible from all sides. An orange hat, in addition to a coat or vest, is strongly recommended.
The following hunters are exempt from this requirement:
New Laws and Regulations
There are a number of regulation changes that became effective in 2013. A summary of the changes is listed below. Consult the department’s website for additional details.
License Suspension—Remedial Hunter Ed Requirement
In accordance with Connecticut General Statute 26-61, payment of a fine, forfeiture of a bond or a plea or judgment of guilty for a fishing, hunting, or trapping violation will automatically result in the suspension of all fishing, hunting and trapping privileges including your fishing, hunting and trapping license.
To comply with the provisions of C.G.S. Section 26-31(g), any person having their hunting license suspended for the following safety violations will be required to complete a remedial hunter education course prior to reinstatement of such license following the suspension period. Completion of a Conservation Education/Firearms Safety course is also required if the hunter under suspension has not been previously certified.
Regulations — Behavior and Actions of Hunters
Individuals wishing to participate in the sport of falconry must obtain a Connecticut falconry permit prior to obtaining a falconry bird. Falconers are required to abide by the same regulations that pertain to other hunters who hunt small game and waterfowl. Any public hunting area open for small game or waterfowl hunting may also be used by falconers. Verbal permission is required on private lands. Falconers must wear fluorescent orange and must obtain the same licenses and permits required for small game and waterfowl hunting. To obtain application materials or find out more about the falconry program, please visit the DEEP website (www.ct.gov/deep/hunting).
Trap or target shooting on any state property or public hunting area is prohibited unless the area is a designated shooting range. There are four state owned public shooting ranges available for target shooting, patterning shotguns and sighting in rifles.
Wooster Mountain State Park Cooperative Shooting Range: Wooster Mountain State Park, Danbury. Operated by the Danbury Shooting Sports Association. Located on Rte. 7, approximately two miles south of the Danbury Mall. Clay target shooting allowed. Call 845-279-4513 for daily time and fee schedule.
High Rock Cooperative Shooting Range: Naugatuck State Forest, Naugatuck. Operated by the High Rock Shooting Association, Inc. Range hours: Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. Range fee: $5.00 for the first hour, fractional for more time. No clay targets allowed. State pistol permit required to shoot handguns. Call 860-491-9921 for information.
Glastonbury Public Shooting Range: Meshomasic State Forest, Glastonbury. Entry at Toll Gate Road. Range hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m, depending on the availability of range staff. Two hour periods. Paper targets only, clay targets not allowed. No range fees. Reservations accepted between Mondays at 9:00 AM and Tuesdays at 2:00 PM. Call 860-424-3737 or email email@example.com for reservations.
Nye Holman Field Archery Range: Nye Holman State Forest, Tolland. Entrance on South River Road. Field course available to public at all times unless posted otherwise. Field points only, arrows with broadheads are strictly prohibited.
Landowner Liability Release
Connecticut law provides protection from liability to landowners who allow, without a fee, the recreational use of their property.
Sec. 52-557g. Owner of land available to public for recreation not liable, when: (b) Except as provided in section 52-557h, an owner of land who, either directly or indirectly, invites or permits without charge, rent, fee, or other commercial service any person to use such land or part thereof for recreational purposes does not thereby:
Sec. 52-557h. Owner liable when: Nothing in sections 52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, limits in any way the liability of any owner of land which otherwise exists;
DEALING WITH HARASSMENT
All hunters, regardless of where they hunt, should be prepared for the possibility of being harassed by anti-hunters.
Anti-hunting groups often use harassment tactics to generate publicity, so newspaper and television reporters may be present. Your behavior if you are harassed is extremely important. Maintain your composure and do not retaliate. If you are interviewed by the media, project a positive image.
Remember, Connecticut has a hunter harassment law that protects the rights of sportsmen. If you decide to press charges on your antagonists make sure you have a strong case by: (1) making it evident that they are following you by going in several directions, (2) asking your antagonists why they are harassing you, (3) being able to identify and describe the individuals, (4) taking the license numbers of their autos if possible and by, (5) not responding to violence or threatening a protester with bodily harm.
THE HUNTER’S PLEDGE
Hunting provides unique challenges and rewards. However, the future of this great
tradition depends on each hunter being responsible and ethical.
Therefore, as a hunter, I pledge to:
Regulations designate certain days for youth hunting in Connecticut. On these days, licensed junior hunters may hunt when accompanied by a licensed adult hunter 18 years of age or older. The adult mentor may not carry a firearm and at all times must remain within physical contact in a position to provide direct supervision and instruction. These training days will provide junior hunters with an opportunity to learn safe and effective hunting practices from experienced hunters.
SPRING TURKEY: Saturday, April 19 through Saturday, April 26, 2014
PHEASANT: Saturday, October 11, 2014
WATERFOWL: See Current Migratory Bird Hunting Guide
DEER: Saturday, November 8 through Saturday, November 15, 2014
1. Yale Forest, MDC Nepaug Reservoir Valentine Block and MDC Nepaug Reservoir Pine Hill Block are not open during Junior Hunter Training Days.
2. Centennial Watershed State Forest is only open to junior hunters with a lottery permit for Centennial Watershed State Forest.
Harvested deer must be reported by telephone or internet.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.