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 or without 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 Handicapped Hunting Opportunities).
Closed Season: No hunting and no training of dogs from October 1 through 7:00 a.m., EDT, on October 15, 2011, except for the hunting of rails in marshes; waterfowl hunting; legal deer and turkey 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, 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 installed or a flintlock muzzleloader having powder in the pan is considered a loaded firearm.
High-Velocity Air Guns: Restricted to those that use a single ball or pellet-like projectile. Additional restrictions on the use of air guns are the same as those for rifles and handguns.
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 and arrows include long, recurved, and compound bows with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds. An arrowhead 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. Mechanical string release devices are permitted. Projectiles coated with any drug, poison or tranquilizing substance are prohibited.
The use of crossbows for hunting is prohibited, except for certain handicapped persons with special authorization (see Handicapped Hunting Opportunities) or for deer and turkey hunting on private land in Zones 11 and 12 during the January archery season. Legal crossbows must have a draw weight between 125 and 220 pounds and permanent fixed rifle type stock with a functional mechanical safety device. The bolt (arrow) length must be at least 18 inches, excluding the broadhead, and the bolt weight must be at least 450 grains, including the broadhead. The broadhead must have at least two blades and must be at least 7/8 inch wide at the widest point. Crossbows are considered loaded when fully drawn, whether or not a bolt is in place.
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 DEP forms. Copies of the form do not have to be sent to DEP, but must be carried while hunting. Old forms, still available at some town clerks and DEP offices, or a photocopy of the official form found in this guide must be used. Forms may also be downloaded from the DEP website (www.ct.gov/dep). 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.
Fluorescent Orange Requirement
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:
- Archery Deer Hunters hunting from September 15 to November 15 and from January 1 to January 31.
- Archery Deer Hunters hunting during the November 16 to December 31 time period may remove their fluorescent orange clothing when hunting from an elevated stand at least 10 feet above the ground.
- Firearms and Archery Turkey Hunters
- Waterfowl Hunters while hunting from boats, duck blinds, or other stationary positions.
- Crow Hunters while hunting from a blind or a stationary position.
- Raccoon and Opossum Hunters when hunting from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise.
- Landowners while hunting deer on their own property. Family members are still required to wear fluorescent orange.
New Laws and Regulations
Below is a listing of some of the changes that have occurred since the last printing of this guide.
- Public Act 10-99 provides for persons hunting with a Free Landowner Permit or Connecticut residents hunting with a Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Permit to use a revolver rather than a rifle or a shotgun to hunt deer on private lands of at least 10 acres in size. It is a “lesser weapons” law and does not provide any additional tags or days to hunt deer. Hunters can purchase the Revolver Deer Endorsement online or from licensing vendors.
- Hunting privileges associated with the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp) are changing to a calendar year, January 1 through December 31. To facilitate this change, for the remainder of calendar year 2010 and 2011, the DEP will issue a 2010-2011 Duck Stamp with privileges that begin on July 1, 2010 and end on December 31, 2011. Starting in 2012, duck hunting privileges will be for a calendar year, January 1 through December 31. This change is due to legislation passed in April 2010 by the Connecticut State Legislature.
- During the 2010 session of the General Assembly, legislation was approved and signed into law in April reducing many of the fees for sportsmen’s licenses and permits. This was followed in June by legislation authorizing a credit to be applied against the fee for any 2011 sportsmen’s license, permit or tag when purchase of a license, permit or tag had been made at the higher prices in place between October 1, 2009 and April 14, 2010. The credit amount will be the difference between the higher amount paid during that time period and the amount set by the new fee structure established April 14, 2010. See Licenses & Permits for more information.
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.
- Sec. 26-62: Hunting related injuries/death to any person, animal other than a wild animal or damage to property of another
- Sec. 26-73: Hunting on Sunday
- Sec. 26-74: Use of motor vehicle in hunting
- Sec. 26-91: Taking of migratory birds—violations for hunting before or after legal hunting hours
- Sec. 53-204: Hunting from a public highway
- Sec. 53-205: Loaded weapon in a motor vehicle
- Sec. 53-206d: Carrying of firearm while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug
- Sec. 53a-217e: Negligent Hunting
Regulations — Behavior and Actions of Hunters
- Section 26-66-1:
- (c) hunting before or after legal hours
- (d) hunting within 500′ of occupied buildings
- (e) discharging toward people/animals or across public roadways
- Section 26-86a-6:
- (a) hunting before or after legal hours
Individuals wishing to participate in the sport of falconry must obtain both a Connecticut and a federal 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 DEP website (www.ct.gov/dep).
Trap & Target Shooting
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 203-879-4658 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. Two hour periods. Paper targets only, clay targets not allowed. No range fees. Call DEP Eastern District Headquarters for reservations at 860-295-9523 daily between 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
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:
- Make any representation that the premises are safe for any purpose;
- Confer upon such person who enters or uses such land for such recreational purposes the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed;
- Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of such owner.
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;
- For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity;
- For injury suffered in any case where the owner of land charges the person or persons who enter or go on the land for the recreational use thereof, except that, in the case of land leased to the state or subdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for such lease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section.
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.