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Deer Hunting Seasons

Hunting Regulations Icon Rhode Island Hunting

Deer Hunting Seasons

Season

Dates

Archery
(includes Crossbow)

September 9 – 10 (Youth only, Zone 1)

September 23 – 24 (Youth only, Zone 2)

September 15 – January 31, 2018 (Zone 1)

October 1 – January 31, 2018 (Zone 2)

Archery:
Prudence-Patience Islands (Zone 3)

October 28 – 29 (Youth only Season)*

November 1 – January 31, 2018

Archery:
Block Island (Zone 4)

October 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31
(Check local ordinance)

Muzzleloader

October 28 – 29 (Youth only Zones 1, 2)*

November 4 – 26 (Zones 1, 2)

December 26 – January 2, 2018
(Zones 1, 2 Antlerless deer private land only)

Shotgun

December 2 – 17 (Zone 1)

December 2 – 10 (Zone 2)

December 26 – January 2, 2018
(Zones 1, 2 – Antlerless deer private land only)

Archery, Shotgun, Muzzleloader
(Zone 4)

November: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28

December: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22

January: 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31

February: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Special Season for Disabled Hunters: Prudence-Patience Islands (Zone 3)

October 24 – 27

Season Bag Limits

Statewide
(all zones combined)

2 Antlered Deer, (Zone 3: 1 antlered deer)

Zone 1

3 Antlerless Deer

Zone 2

2 Antlerless Deer

Zone 3

2 Antlerless Deer

Zone 4

Unlimited Antlerless Deer1

RI Deer Management Strategy:

Deer management zones have been established for harvesting deer in

accordance with specific management goals for R.I. The need to reduce auto

strikes and address nuisance deer complaints are important deer management issues in addition to DEM’s goal to preserve and maintain quality deer

hunting for sportsmen.

With this strategy we hope to:

  • Provide a sustainable high quality deer management program that maintains deer populations that are ecologically sound.
  • Maintain quality hunting programs for the deer resource recognizing the strong hunter tradition of deer hunting in Rhode Island and the important role hunters play in population management.

Deer Hunting Methods

Please note: Only one firearm or bow may be possessed in the field per individual hunter while hunting deer. Check local ordinances for further restrictions in specific towns.

Shotgun

  • No person shall hunt, pursue, shoot or attempt to shoot any deer with a shotgun capable of holding more than five shells, unless it is plugged with one-piece filler, which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun.
  • Ammunition permitted for shotgun deer season is limited to a single lead or alloy projectile, including rifled slugs or sabot round. Buckshot is prohibited at all times.
  • Shotguns of 10, 12, 16, or 20-gauge are allowed.
  • Muzzleloader firearms will be permitted during the shotgun season provided hunters possess a current shotgun deer permit and comply with muzzleloader restrictions. Hunters taking a deer must tag the deer with the shotgun deer tag immediately after taking. All shotgun deer season fluorescent orange requirements will be enforced.

Muzzleloader

  • Firearms for muzzleloader deer season are limited to .45 caliber or larger using percussion caplock, flintlock, and in-line ignition systems using percussion caps, rifle, or shotshell primers. Only single barrel or double barrel firearms that must be loaded from the muzzle are permitted.
  • Ammunition for muzzleloader deer season is limited to a single projectile, including round ball, or maxi ball type projectiles. Sabot rounds for muzzleloader firearms are permitted using lead, jacketed or solid copper bullets according to manufacturer’s specifications. Powder is limited to manufacturers’ specifications. Telescopic sights are permitted. Possession of modern shotgun shotshells while hunting is prohibited. A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when the percussion cap, primer or pan powder is removed.

Archery

Archers may use a long bow, re-curve bow, compound bow or crossbow for hunting deer. Long bow, re-curve bow and compound bow must be set at not less than forty (40) pounds for archers using fixed blade broadheads, and a minimum of fifty (50) pounds for archers using mechanical broadheads. Only broadhead tipped arrows with at least two (2) metal cutting edges are allowed. All broadheads must be 7⁄8 of an inch or greater at the widest point including mechanical broadheads measured in the “open” position.

Crossbows must be set at not less than one hundred twenty five (125) pounds minimum draw weight. Expandable broadheads are permitted. One (1) field point arrow may be carried in the quiver for the safe discharge of the crossbow; the field point arrow must be made distinguishable from the crossbow arrow by a color difference. All Archery deer hunters must have taken and successfully completed bow hunter education classes or hold a prior year archery deer permit in order to obtain a current year archery deer permit.

Adaptive Aids

Special archery adaptive aids for use with vertical held bows may be used by all hunters without a special permit.

Decoys

Deer decoys may be used on private lands in Zone 1 between September 15 and October 31, and in Zone 2 between October 1 and October 31 while archery hunting only. However, deer decoys may be used throughout the extent of the open archery season on private lands in towns where hunting with a firearm is prohibited but used of archery equipment is permitted. When transporting deer decoys for the purpose of hunting, persons must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange visible from all sides as is currently required for shotgun deer hunting.

Prohibited Deer Hunting Activities

  • The use of electronic calls.
  • The construction and use of permanent tree stands, or the use of nails, spikes, bolts, or climbing devices, which may damage trees on state property; and on private property without the permission of the landowner.
  • Hunting, pursuing or molesting deer in tidal waters or while deer are swimming in any waters of the state.
  • Feeding or baiting: the act of using, placing, giving, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering any material, or any act to maintain the availability of such material that attracts deer to feed on such material.

Written Permission

Annual written landowner permission is required for deer hunting on private land (RIGL 20-15-1) during the deer season. It is not required that deer permits (tags) be signed by the landowner, provided the hunter has other written permission in possession. Deer permits (tags) must be carried while hunting. Annual written permission must be shown to any authorized person upon demand, and must be presented when checking a deer.

Landowner Rights & Liability

Written landowner permission is required to hunt deer on private property. Hunters are urged to gain a landowner’s permission prior to hunting for all other hunting activities as well. To maintain good landowner – hunter relations, always treat the landowner’s private property with respect, and know and respect the property boundaries. It is also unlawful to shoot upon the land of another without their permission. Hunting on private land is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

To encourage landowners to make their lands available for recreational purposes, the RI General Law (32-6-3) limits the liability of persons making private land available for recreational activities, including hunting and fishing.
Liability of Landowner: an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use that property for recreational purposes does not thereby:

  • Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose;
  • Confer upon that person the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed; nor
  • Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to any person or property caused by an act of omission of that person.

Limitations

(a) Nothing in the law limits in any way any liability which, but for this chapter, otherwise exists:

(1) For the willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity after discovering the user’s peril; or

(2) For any 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 a subdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for that lease shall not be deemed a “charge” within the meaning of this section.

(b) When the Coastal Resources Management Council designates a right-of-way as part of its designation process as specified in § 46-23-6(5), or when the coastal resources management council stipulates public access as a condition of granting a permit, the landowner automatically will have “limited liability” as defined in this chapter, except as specifically recognized by or provided in this section.

Local Ordinances

Some towns restrict hunting or the discharge of firearms and, therefore, it is important to check town ordinances before hunting. Local municipalities may not prevent hunting on State-owned land. Towns closed to Sunday hunting on private lands include Portsmouth, Little Compton, Middletown, and Barrington. Some towns require written permission of the landowner, and/or local police department. For local and Sunday hunting regulations, check with the town police department or town clerk.

Prudence and Patience Islands

The only legal method of deer hunting on Prudence and Patience Islands is by archery, including crossbows. Proficiency testing is required for all archery deer hunters on Prudence and Patience Islands. Archery deer hunting is permitted at the Heritage Property from December 1 – 15 only. Proficiency cards must be carried while hunting. All deer taken must be reported to DEM within 24 hours by Kill Report Card or reported to an Environmental Police Officer as prescribed. The antlered deer (buck) bag limit is one (1).

Block Island (New Shoreham)

Written permission from a landowner must be obtained before hunting on private land and presented to and countersigned by the Block Island Chief of Police. All deer must be tagged and reported within 24 hours of taking. Deer are to be reported to DEM by using the pre-paid Kill Report Post Card. Buckshot is prohibited for deer hunting.

Cooperative and Special Hunting Areas

Block Island State Land (Black Rock / Rodman Hollow)

Deer hunting is allowed by special permit only, selected by lottery. Applications (available at www.dem.ri.gov) to hunt state lands must be postmarked by October 15, 2017.

Block Island and Ninigret National Wildlife Refuges

Open for limited white-tailed deer hunting by special permit only on specific units, selected by lottery. Block Island NWR: archery and firearm hunting opportunities are available. All Block Island hunting restrictions, DEM, and refuge regulations apply. Ninigret NWR: specific units are open in November for a muzzleloader/archery season, in December for a shotgun/archery season, and in January for an archery only season. Crossbows are prohibited on refuge lands. December also offers a firearms deer season for youth hunters only. For information, regulations, permits and dates, please contact the refuge at 401-364-9124, or on line at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ninigret

Northwest Cooperative Hunting Area (Glocester)

Permit required and may be obtained by sending a self addressed stamped envelope (9½” x 4”) to: NORTHWEST COOPERATIVE HUNTING, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 277 Great Neck Rd, West Kingston, RI 02892. One permit will be issued for all methods of deer hunting. Permits with hunting activity records must be returned to the Division at the close of the season.

The Nature Conservancy Deer Hunting Co-Op: No Special Permits Required.

Deer hunting only, the hunting and take of other species of wildlife is prohibited.

The construction or use of permanent treestands is prohibited. The use of nails, spikes, bolts, or devices that may damage trees is prohibited. Climbing tree stands are permitted. All treestands must be removed at the end of the season.
Francis Carter Preserve in Charlestown, Queens River Preserve in Exeter, Canochet Preserve in Hopkinton, King Preserve in North Kingstown, Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve South in Exeter and Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area in Tiverton: Deer hunting only using archery equipment.
Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve North in Exeter and Grass Pond Preserve in Richmond: Deer hunting only using archery equipment, muzzleloader or shotgun.
How-Davey Preserve in Hopkinton: Deer hunting only using archery equipment or muzzleloader.

Beavertail (Jamestown)

Archery only (11/1/17 – 1/31/18) no weekends prior to 12/31. Proficiency is required and cards must be carried while hunting. Permits must be returned by February 15 regardless of activity or success, to be eligible for next year’s hunt. Permits are available at the Jamestown Police Department. Ten (10) hunters are allowed per day on a first-come firstserved basis. Limit of 5 slots per week reserved no more than 20 days in advance.

Grills Preserve I (Westerly) and Grills Preserve II (Hopkinton)

Hunting for deer and wild turkey only. No special permit is required.

Deer hunting is permitted only during the archery and muzzleloader portions of the deer season.
Turkey hunting is permitted in accordance with rules for the established turkey seasons.