Deer Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Rhode Island Hunting

Deer Hunting Seasons



(includes Crossbow)

September 12 – 13 (Youth only, Zone 1)*

September 26 – 27 (Youth only, Zone 2)*

September 15 – January 31, 2021 (Zone 1)

October 1 – January 31, 2021 (Zone 2)

Patience & Prudence Islands (Zone 3)

October 24 – 25 (Youth only)*

November 1 – January 31, 2021

Block Island (Zone 4)

October 13 – 16, 19-23, 26-30
(Check local ordinance)


October 24 – 25 (Youth only Zones 1, 2)*

November 7 – 29 (Zones 1, 2)

December 26 – January 2, 2021
(Zones 1, 2 Private land only,
antlerless deer only)


December 5 – 20 (Zone 1)

December 5 – 13 (Zone 2)

December 26 – January 2, 2021
(Zones 1, 2 – Private land only,
antlerless deer only)

Archery, Muzzleloader, Shotgun (Zone 4)

November 2, 4-6, 9-13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 30

December 1, 3, 4, 7-11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21-24

January 4, 5, 7, 8, 11-15, 19-22,
25-29, 2021

February 1 – 5, 8-12, 16-19, 22-26, 2021

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

October 27 – 30

2020-21 Season Bag Limits

(all zones & methods combined)

2 Antlered Deer, (Zone 3: no more than 1 Antlered Deer)

Zone 1

3 Antlerless Deer

Zone 2

2 Antlerless Deer

Zone 3

2 Antlerless Deer

Zone 4

Unlimited Antlerless Deer

RI Deer Management Strategy:

Deer management zones (see map on Deer Management Zone Map) have been established for harvesting deer in accordance with specific management goals for RI. 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 deer management program that maintains a healthy deer population that is sustainable and ecologically appropriate.
  • Maintain quality deer hunting opportunities recognizing the strong tradition of hunting in Rhode Island and the important role hunting plays in wildlife conservation.

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.


  • 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.
  • Muzzleloaders 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.


  • 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. 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.


  • 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 seven eighths (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.
  • Licensed deer hunters may carry one (1) blunt or judo tipped arrow to hunt the open portion of the small game season during the archery deer season.
  • Licensed archery deer hunters using a crossbow may carry one (1) blunt or judo tipped arrow to hunt small game mammals during the open portion of the small game season during the archery deer season; no birds may be taken with a crossbow and this arrow must be made distinguishable from broadhead tipped arrows and the discharge arrow.

Adaptive Aids

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


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 use 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 or possession of deer scents/lures that contain natural cervid (including deer, moose, elk) urine, gland oil, feces, tissue, blood or any other bodily fluids while taking, attempting to take, attracting, or scouting wildlife.
  • The use of electronic calls.
  • The placement or installation of tree stands on state land and co-op properties prior to August 15th and failure to remove the tree stands by February 15th.
  • The construction and use of permanent tree stands, or the use of nails, spikes, bolts, or climbing devices, which may damage trees on state or co-op properties; 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.
  • Driving deer by parties of over five (5) people.

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. A valid hunting license constitutes written permission on state owned/managed land and applicable hunting cooperative properties for which a permit is not required.

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, 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.


(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 Resource 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.

Patience and Prudence 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 using the harvest reporting website www.ri.gov/DEM/huntfish or be 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 taken must be reported to DEM within 24 hours using the harvest reporting website www.ri.gov/dem/huntfish or be reported to an Environmental Police Officer.

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 http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/managementservices/licenses/hunting-licenses.php) to hunt state lands must be postmarked by October 15, 2020.

Block Island, Ninigret, and John H. Chafee
National Wildlife Refuges

Block Island, Ninigret, and John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuges are open for hunting on designated units with some season and weapon restrictions. Hunters must possess and carry a signed refuge hunting brochure valid for the current season. Block Island NWR: white-tailed deer and waterfowl hunting opportunities are available. All Block Island hunting restrictions, State DEM, federal, and refuge regulations apply. John H. Chafee NWR: white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl hunting opportunities are available. Ninigret NWR: white-tailed deer and wild turkey hunting opportunities are available. All State DEM, federal, and refuge regulations apply at John H. Chafee and Ninigret NWRs. For information, regulations, locations and dates, please visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ninigret/visit/hunting.html or contact the USFWS at 401-364-9124.

Northwest Cooperative Hunting Area (Glocester)

Permit required and may be obtained through the online hunting license system www.ri.gov/dem/huntfish. One permit will be issued for all methods of deer hunting.

The Nature Conservancy Deer Hunting Co-Op

  • Deer hunting only, the hunting and/or take of other species of wildlife is prohibited
  • No Special Permits Required, a valid hunting license constitutes as written permission.
  • No vehicles of any kind are allowed on the property, except in designated parking areas.
  • 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.
  • Treestands may not be installed on TNC property prior to August 15th and must be removed by February 15th annually.

Archery: Francis Carter Preserve, Charlestown; Queens River Preserve, Exeter; Canochet Preserve in Hopkinton; King Preserve, North Kingstown; Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve South (area south of Stony Ln), Exeter; Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area, Tiverton.

Archery or muzzleloader: How-Davey Preserve, Hopkinton.

Archery, muzzleloader, or shotgun: Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve North (area north of Stony Ln), Exeter; Grass Pond Preserve (TNC property only), Richmond.

Beavertail (Jamestown)

Archery only (11/1/20-1/31/21) no weekends prior to 12/31. Proficiency certification 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 first-served basis. Limit of 5 slots per week reserved no more than twenty (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. A valid hunting license constitutes written permission.

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.