Rhode Island Hunting
Our mission is to ensure that the Freshwater, Marine and Wildlife resources of the State of Rhode Island will be conserved and managed for equitable and sustainable use.
This Hunting Abstract is a summary of the rules, regulations, seasons and bag limits for the 2015-2016 Rhode Island hunting season. For more detailed information, see the General Laws of Rhode Island, obtainable in most public libraries. A complete copy of the Hunting Regulations for the 2015-2016 Season can be viewed online at:
Copies are available by contacting the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Significant Regulation Changes & Highlights 2015-2016
- Season limit on antlered deer has been reduced to two (2) antlered deer. No hunter shall take more than two (2) antlered deer in total during the deer season, statewide.
- Hunters ages 12 through 15 are now eligible for special youth hunts (archery deer, pheasant, waterfowl and spring turkey).
- New Archery Co-Op Area: The Nature Conservancy Canochet Preserves, Hopkinton.
- Early Canada goose hunting permits NO LONGER required.
Prudence Island Archery Deer Hunting now opens on November 1 (see Deer Hunting for youth and paraplegic dates).
Antlerless deer – deer having no antlers or antlers less than three (3) inches in length.
Bearded turkey – a turkey that carries a visible beard, i.e., a tuft of stiff filament-like feathers projecting outward and downward from the center of the chest.
Box trap – any trigger operated device intended to restrain an animal by confinement in box or cage.
Conibear-type trap – “conibear” model traps and similar body-gripping traps and devices, whether or not enclosed in or comprising part of a box, tube, or other enclosing device.
Crossbow – a bow and string (either compound or re-curve) that launches an arrow, mounted upon a stock, with a trigger unit that holds the string and limbs under tension until released. The trigger unit must have a working safety.
Daylight fluorescent orange – the color orange having a dominant wave length between 595 and 606 nanometers, an excitation purity not less than 85 percent, and a lumination factor not less than 40 percent.
Driving deer/cooperative drive – to pursue, drive, chase, or otherwise frighten or cause a deer to move in a direction toward a person or persons known to be waiting for a deer.
Deer Management Zone – designed to target and achieve harvest and management goals for deer in RI.
Junior Hunter – a person 12-14 years of age who has completed a basic hunter safety course shall hunt only in the immediate company of a qualified licensed adult, 21 years of age or older.
Paraplegic – an individual afflicted with paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs.
Proficiency testing – the measurable demonstration of skills with bows and arrows or use of firearms using a set of standards as determined by the hunter education program.
Written permission – means annual written permission of the owner of the land for any current deer season.
Hunter Safety Course Requirements & Licensing
Persons applying for a hunting license or archery permit for the first time or not having been a member of the armed forces must complete a course in safe hunting or archery practices and have been issued a Hunter Education Certificate to obtain a license. Applicants must present a valid hunter safety certificate from Rhode Island or other state, or possess a previous RI hunting license. A list of hunter safety instructors, dates, and locations of classes is available from the Hunter Safety Office: (401) 539-0019 or on the web: www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/huntered/index.htm
Message From The Chief:
The field of conservation law enforcement requires a strong personal commitment. The Environmental Police Officers who comprise the ranks of the Division of Law Enforcement are hard-working and dedicated professionals who have aspired to this career for most of their lives. The duties of an Environmental Police Officer are more varied than ever before. With these added duties and responsibilities, this profession has become increasingly demanding and dangerous. An Officer’s primary responsibility is to enforce both state and federal laws and regulations that protect the fish, wildlife, and other valuable natural resources of Rhode Island.
In order to meet the unique demands of this profession, potential candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree in natural resources or a related field. Additionally, they must meet physical performance standards and pass psychological screening exams and a comprehensive background investigation. Potential candidates must then complete the intensive 22 week Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy followed by a 17 week field training program. The field training program will teach the basics of conservation law enforcement. A majority of our Officers will also attend the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for a month long marine law enforcement training academy which trains officers in navigation, chart plotting, and patrol vessel operations. Training and education continues throughout their career in a variety of areas such as tactical boat operations, boat accident investigation, hunting accident investigation, and wildlife forensics to name just a few.
Environmental Police Officers have a difficult job, but few professions carry as much pride and satisfaction as protecting our wildlife and providing safety to the public while enjoying Rhode Island’s amazing outdoors.
Kurt Blanchard, Acting Chief
To report violations, please call: (401) 222-3070
- No loaded rifles or shotguns in or on vehicles (RIGL 20-13-8).
- No shooting at, hunting, or pursuing game along, upon, or across a public highway (RIGL 20-13-9).
- No hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (RIGL 20-13-10).
- It is a violation of law, punishable by a fine and imprisonment, to fire “into” land for which one does not have landowner permission.
- No hunting on posted land or state parks, removing or defacing posters thereon, or doing willful damage to property (RIGL 11-44-4,5).
- No more than five persons to hunt in unison (RIGL 20-13-11).
- Target or trap shooting on state lands is only allowed on provided ranges (RIGL 32-2-4).
- Shooting at any animal at anytime while such animal is on a telephone or electric line, pole, or tower or any communication device (RIHR 10.9).
- It is unlawful to carry a loaded weapon outside legal shooting hours. Provided the hunter is stationary, his / her weapon may be loaded within fifteen (15) minutes prior to legal shooting hours (RIHR 10.13).
- The use of laser sights or night vision on any firearm or bow while hunting is illegal (RIHR 184.108.40.206).
- No lead shot larger than No. 2 at any time (RIGL 20-13-13).
- No rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire at any time; however, from Apr. 1 to Sept. 30, (both dates inclusive), centerfire rifles no larger than .229 caliber may be used during daylight hours (RIGL 20-13-13).
- Discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission (RIGL 20-13-7, RIGL 20-15-1).
- Archery deer hunting, within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission (RIGL 20-15-1).
- The importation, exportation, possession, liberation, or sale of any mute swan and/or eggs thereof, or live pen-reared or hybrid wild turkey and/or eggs thereof (RIHR 10.2, 10.3).
- Importing of live birds or animals without permit (RIGL 20-17-9).
- Taking of birds by any method other than shotgun, bow and arrow, or falconry without permit (RIGL 20-14-17).
- The sale of game, except as provided (RIGL 20-13-14).
- Spotlighting for wild animals and birds is prohibited on both Prudence Island & Patience Island, from October 1 – January 31, and at all times on Block Island.
- Spotlighting is prohibited on the mainland from Sept 15-Jan. 31.
Important Laws & Regulations Pertaining to Wildlife
The Lacey Act of 1900, the first federal game law, regulates interstate and international commerce in wildlife. The term “wildlife”, for the purposes of the act, means any wild animal, wild bird, amphibian, reptile, mollusk, or crustacean, or their dead bodies, parts, eggs, or offspring, but does not include migratory birds for which protection is afforded under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Briefly, action can be taken against anyone who transports, ships, or sells wildlife in interstate or foreign commerce contrary to state or foreign laws, or transports any package not properly labeled or tagged.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, signed in 1918, includes agreements between the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, and Russia for the protection of migratory bird populations. Migratory birds are protected by the federal government with provisions allowing state regulation. All birds, their parts, nests, and eggs are protected, except as provided by open hunting seasons. Refer to Rhode Island waterfowl abstract for more information.
Reptiles & Amphibians
The removal from the wild, for any purposes, of any reptile or amphibian (to include eggs or nest) except bullfrogs, green frogs and snapping turtles is prohibited except by special permit (RIHR 8.1, 8.3). The release into the wild of any non-native reptile or amphibian is prohibited.
The following species of reptiles and amphibians (to include eggs or nests) are protected and possession without permit is prohibited at all times: timber rattlesnake, (Crotalus horridus); northern diamondback terrapin, (Malaclemys terrapin); wood turtle, (Clemmys insculpta); eastern box turtle, (Terrapene carolina); spotted turtle, (Clemmys guttata); and bog turtle, (Clemmys uhlenbergi) (RIHR 8.2). The taking of snapping turtles at any time shall be limited to turtles with a minimum carapace length of 12 inches, using: turtle traps, snagging, snaring, grabbing, jugging, bow and arrow, or while legally fishing. Traps and jugs must carry the trapper’s name and address (RIHR 8.1, 8.2).
Fluorescent Orange Requirements
Fluorescent orange safety clothing is required during the hunting season statewide for all hunters. To meet this requirement, safety clothing must be solid daylight fluorescent orange. Fluorescent camouflage does not meet this requirement. The hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions. Examples are: a hat that covers 200 square inches or combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches.
- 200sq. in. by small game hunters during the small game season.
- 200sq. in. by fall turkey hunters while traveling.
- 200sq. in. by muzzleloader deer hunters during the muzzle-loading deer season.
- 200sq. in. by archers when traveling to/from stands during the muzzleloader deer season only.
- 500sq. in. by all hunters (including archers) and all users of management areas and undeveloped state parks during all portions of shotgun deer seasons.
- Hunters using Pop-up blinds during the firearms deer season must display 200 square inches of fluorescent orange visible on the outside of the blind from all directions. Hunters must also wear orange in accordance with the rules for the specific seasons while in the blind.
- Exemptions: Specifically, waterfowl hunters while hunting from a boat or a blind, over water or field, when done in conjunction with decoys; crow hunting over decoys, spring turkey hunters, first segment dove hunters, not required in areas limited to Archery by regulation.
All Other Users:
In addition to the above hunter requirements, all other users (hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, etc.) of State Management areas are required to wear 200 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February and the third Saturday in April to the last day in May, annually.