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Deer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Connecticut Hunting

Licensing and permit costs are listed on Licenses & Permits. Specific laws and regulations for each deer season are below.

Archery Deer

Season Dates

  • Jan. 1 – Jan. 31 – Private Lands (Zones 11–12)
  • Sept. 15 – Dec. 31 – Private Lands (Zones 1-12)
  • Sept. 15 – Nov. 13 – State Land
    Dec. 19 – Dec. 31
  • Sept. 15 – Dec. 31 – State Land Bowhunting Only Areas

Bag Limits 2 Either Sex and 2 Antlerless (4 Total); additional bag of 1 Either Sex and 1 Antlerless (2 Total) during the Jan 1–31 season on private lands in Zones 11 and 12.

Hunting Hours ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits Small Game and Deer Archery Permit. Must show proof of completion of the CE/FS bowhunting course (since 1982) or its equivalent from another state or country when purchasing a small game/deer archery permit. A previous Connecticut bowhunting permit purchased in 2002 or later also qualifies.

Legal Bows See Hunting Laws & Regulations for a description of legal bows and arrows for deer hunting. Mechanical string release devices are permitted. There is no minimum acreage requirement for bowhunting.

Special Conditions

  • Possession of a Firearm: Possession of a firearm while bowhunting for deer is prohibited.
  • Tagging and Reporting: See Tagging & Reporting for information on tagging and reporting.
  • Private Land Permission: Signed written consent of the landowner on official forms for current season must be carried while hunting.
  • State Land Hunting: See tables on Public Hunting Areas for listing of lands open to archery deer hunting. Certain state lands that do not allow firearms deer hunting are designated as bowhunting only areas. These lands are open to deer bowhunting during the state land shotgun and muzzleloader deer seasons (Nov. 14 – Dec. 18).
  • Fluorescent Orange: Bowhunters are required to wear 400 sq. in. of fluorescent orange from Nov. 14 – Dec. 31. Bowhunters may remove fluorescent orange clothing while in a tree stand at least 10 feet off the ground.
  • Decoys: Decoys may be used during the early and late archery deer seasons, but must be covered with 400 sq. in. of fluorescent orange during transport. Decoys cannot be used during the Nov. 14 – Dec. 31 time period.
  • Replacement Tags: Available for this permit type.
  • Notice: Saturday, November 3 through Saturday, November 10, 2018 (excluding Sunday) are Junior Deer Hunter Training Days and junior hunters with firearms deer permits may be hunting with firearms.
  • Sunday Archery Deer Hunting: Archery deer hunters (including landowners hunting with a bow during the Free Landowner Deer Season) can hunt on Sundays on private land only in all Deer Management Zones except 2, 3, and 4A (see zone map below). All archery deer hunting on Sundays must take place at least 40 yards away from blazed hiking trails.

PRIVATE LAND SHOTGUN/RIFLE/REVOLVER

Season Dates Nov. 14 – Dec. 4

Bag Limits Statewide: 1 Either Sex and 1 Antlerless; Zone 7: 1 Extra Antlerless; Zones 11 and 12: 2 Extra Antlerless; Zones 2 and 4a: 1 Either Sex (“Antlerless Only” tag NOT valid).

Hunting Hours ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits Firearms hunting license and Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Deer permit. Note: Revolver Deer Endorsement is also required if using a revolver.

Legal Firearms 12, 16, or 20 gauge breech loading shotgun loaded with single soft alloy projectile ammunition. Rifled or smoothbore barrels allowed. Centerfire rifle 6mm (.243 caliber) or larger or revolver .357 caliber or larger may be used if the landholding is 10 or more acres and the landowner has authorized use on the consent form. To use a revolver, you must also have Revolver Deer Endorsement for the current season. Muzzleloading rifle or shotgun, .45 caliber minimum. Single projectile loaded from muzzle end. Telescopic sights and shotgun converters are permitted. No minimum acreage required for shotguns or muzzleloaders.

Special Conditions

  • Tagging and Reporting: SeeTagging & Reporting for information on tagging and reporting.
  • Private Land Permission: Signed written consent of the landowner on official forms for current season must be carried while hunting.
  • Replacement Tags: Available for this permit type.
  • Junior Deer Hunter Training Days: Saturday, November 3 through Saturday, November 10, 2018 (excluding Sunday).

Season Dates Dec. 5 – Dec. 31

Bag Limits Statewide: 1 Either Sex and 1 Antlerless; Zone 7: 1 Extra Antlerless; Zones 11 and 12: 2 Extra Antlerless; Zones 2 and 4a: 1 Either Sex (“Antlerless Only” tag NOT valid).

Hunting Hours ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits Firearms hunting license and private land muzzleloader deer permit.

Legal Firearms Muzzleloading rifle or shotgun, .45 caliber minimum. Single projectile loaded from muzzle end. Telescopic sights and shotgun converters are permitted. No minimum acreage required for muzzleloaders.

State Land Muzzleloader

Season Dates Dec. 5 – Dec. 18

Bag Limits 1 Either Sex

Hunting Hours: ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits Firearms hunting license and state land muzzleloader deer permit.

Legal Firearms Muzzleloading rifle or shotgun .45 caliber minimum. Single projectile loaded from muzzle end. Telescopic sights and shotgun converters are permitted.

Special Conditions

  • Tagging and Reporting: SeeTagging & Reporting for information on tagging and reporting.
  • State Land Hunting: See tables on Public Hunting Areas for listing of state lands open to muzzleloader deer hunting.

Free Landowner Deer Season

Available for persons owning 10 or more acres of land.

Season Dates

Nov. 1 – Dec. 31

Bag Limits

1 Either Sex and 1 Antlerless (2 total)

Hunting Hours

½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits

Free Landowner Deer Permit. Appropriate hunting license required if landowner does not live on qualifying property. Note: Revolver Deer Endorsement is also required if using a revolver. For hunting with a bow or crossbow, landowners must have a certificate indicating successful completion of a Connecticut Conservation Education/Firearms Safety bowhunting course (or recognized equivalent).

Legal Firearms

12, 16, or 20 gauge shotgun loaded with single soft alloy projectile ammunition. Rifled or smoothbore barrels allowed. Centerfire rifle 6mm (.243 caliber) or larger, revolver .357 caliber or larger, or muzzleloader (.45 caliber minimum). To use a revolver, you must also have Revolver Deer Endorsement for the current season.

Legal Bows

See Hunting Laws & Regulations for a description of legal bows and arrows for deer hunting. Mechanical string release devices are permitted.

Special Conditions

Free Landowner Permits are available only to persons owning 10 or more contiguous acres of land. Additional permits are available for their spouses, lineal descendants, parents, grandparents and siblings.

  • Tagging and Reporting: See Tagging & Reporting for information on tagging and reporting.
  • Fluorescent Orange: Landowners hunting deer on their own land are not required to wear 400 sq. in. of fluorescent orange, but their spouse, lineal descendants, parents, grandparents and siblings are required to do so.

State Land No-Lottery

Season Dates

  • Nov. 14 – Nov. 23 No-Lottery “A” Permits
  • Nov. 24 – Dec. 4 No-Lottery “B” Permits

Bag Limits 1 Either Sex

Hunting Hours ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.

License and Permits Firearms hunting license and either a State Land No-Lottery “A” Permit or a State Land No-Lottery “B” Permit. You may buy only one type of State Land Shotgun Deer Permit. So, you should not purchase a State Land No-Lottery Permit if you plan on applying for a State Land Lottery or Controlled Hunt Lottery Permit.

Legal Firearms 12, 16, or 20 gauge breech loading shotgun loaded with single soft alloy projectile ammunition. Rifled or smoothbore barrels allowed. Shotgun must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells. Muzzleloading rifle or shotgun, .45 caliber minimum. Single projectile loaded from muzzle end. Telescopic sights and shotgun converters are permitted.

Special Conditions

  • Tagging and Reporting: See Tagging & Reporting for information on tagging and reporting.
  • Open Areas: See Public Hunting Areas for areas open for the No-Lottery “A” and “B” seasons.
  • Junior Deer Hunter Training Days: Saturday, November 3 through Saturday, November 10, 2018 (excluding Sunday).

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

CWD is a naturally occurring disease of the brain and nervous system in cervids (species in the deer/elk family) that attacks the brain, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and reindeer appear to be naturally susceptible to CWD.

Where is CWD found? Prior to 2005, the disease had only been found in North America west of IL. In 2005, CWD was documented in captive and free-ranging herds in NY and in free-ranging herds in WV. CWD has NOT been found in New England, including CT. States and Canadian provinces where CWD has been confirmed include: CO, WY, UT, NM, MT, SD, KS, MN, WI, IL, NE, OK, NY, WV, MI, VA, MD, MO, ND, IA, PA, OH, TX, AR, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

What is CT doing about CWD? Connecticut banned the importation of live cervids across state lines. In 2005, an emergency regulation was passed banning importation of whole carcasses or parts thereof of any deer or elk from wild or captive herds from other states or Canadian Provinces where CWD has been confirmed. The importation ban does not apply to de-boned meat, cleaned skullcaps, hides, or taxidermy mounts. The regulation became permanent in 2007. From 2003-2011, DEEP tested hunter and vehicle-killed deer as part of a nationwide CWD monitoring and surveillance program. Due to a loss of funding, only deer exhibiting symptoms of CWD were tested from 2012-2013. From 2014-2016, CWD testing resumed thanks to a cooperative effort between the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and DEEP, and with financial assistance from the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System. Although additional funding sources were lost in 2017, the DEEP will continue to collect samples to test for CWD.

How do I know if an animal has CWD? As CWD advances, infected animals display abnormal behavior, such as staggering or standing with poor posture; become emaciated; and appear to be in poor health. The only efficient method for diagnosis is to dispatch the animal and examine brain tissue for lesions. Anyone observing a deer exhibiting CWD symptoms should notify DEEP at 860-424-3011) or 860-424-3333 (24 hours). If the animal is dispatched, keep the head intact so that a brain sample can be collected for testing.

What precautions should CT hunters take? Concern over CWD should not limit hunter willingness to harvest deer. No evidence exists that CWD affects humans or is present in the state. Even in states where CWD is found, no one has ever contracted CWD. As a precaution, public health officials recommend that humans avoid consuming meat from deer suspected of being infected with CWD. The CWD prion can be found within the meat of deer in the terminal stages of CWD. Higher levels of infected prions accumulate in tissues, such as the brain, spinal cord, spleen, lymph nodes, tonsils, and eyes, and as a precaution, contact with these items should be minimized. Wearing latex gloves and de-boning meat should also minimize potential exposure. Hunters should also minimize the use of natural-based deer lures, and avoid placing deer lures on cloths, skin, ground, or vegetation where deer can reach them.