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 2017-2018 Rhode Island hunting season. For more detailed information, see the General Laws of Rhode Island, obtainable at most public libraries. A complete copy of the Hunting Regulations for the 2017-2018 Season can be viewed online at:
Copies are also available by contacting the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Significant Regulation Changes & Highlights 2017-2018
- Mainland Zone 1 archery deer season will be open from September 15, 2017 through January 31, 2018.
- Mainland Zone 2 archery deer season will be open from October 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018.
- Mainland Zone 1 shotgun deer season will be open from December 2 through December 17, 2017
- Mainland Zone 2 shotgun deer season will be open from December 2 through December 10, 2017
- The Grills Preserve 1 – Westerly Land Trust property located west of Bowling Lane and Route 91 in Bradford is OPEN to deer and turkey hunting during the 2017 – 2018 season.
- The Nature Conservancy Cuttyhunk Preserve has been broken into North and South sections, with archery deer hunting only permitted in the South section.
- Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area in Tiverton has been added as a new TNC Deer Hunting Cooperative for archery deer hunting only.
- The late Zone 1 and 2 antlerless muzzleloader and shotgun seasons (Dec 26 -January 2) will be open on private land only.
- Antlerless deer bag limits have been reduced to three (3) in Zone 1 and two (2) in Zone 2.
- Black duck daily bag limit has been increased to two (2).
Antlerless deer – deer having no antlers or antlers less than three (3) inches in length.
Archery Proficiency testing – the measurable demonstration of skills with archery equipment using a set of standards as determined by the hunter education program.
Bearded turkey – a wild 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.
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.
Daily bag limit – the maximum number of game of a single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season.
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.
Field possession limit – the maximum number of game of a single species or combination (aggregate) permitted to be possessed by one person while in the field, in one’s vehicle, boat, trailer or other means of transportation when traveling between the field and one’s personal abode. This shall be equal to the daily bag or season limit.
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.
Personal abode – one’s principal or ordinary home or dwelling place, as distinguished from one’s temporary or transient place of abode or dwelling such as a hunting club, or any club house, cabin, tent or trailer house used as a hunting club, or any hotel, motel or rooming house used during a hunting, pleasure or business trip.
Possess or Possession – to exercise dominion or control over any wild animal commencing at the time at which a decision is made not to return the wild animal to the immediate vicinity from which it was taken and lasting up until its ultimate disposition. The decision to possess or return the animal must be made at the first practical opportunity.
Season bag limit – the maximum number of game of a single species permitted to be taken by one person over the duration of the open season.
Tidal Waters – waters of the State extending from mean high water to the seaward limit of three miles.
- 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 9.17.J).
- Feeding and baiting wildlife in the state of Rhode Island is not permitted at any time for any purposes except as defined in RIHR 9.17.L
- 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 9.17.N).
- The use or possession of laser sights that project a beam or night-vision equipment while hunting is prohibited (RIHR 9.7.2.H).
- 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 is prohibited (RIGL 20-13-7, RIGL 20-15-1).
- Archery deer hunting, within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission is prohibited (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 9.17.B).
- 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 20-14-7).
- The sale of game, except as provided (RIGL 20-13-14).
- Spotlighting for wild animals and birds is prohibited (statewide and islands) between September 15 – February 28.
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 section 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 (Lithobates catesbeianus), green frogs (Lithobates calmitans) and snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentine) is prohibited except by special permit (RIHR 9.15). The release into the wild of any non-native reptile or amphibian is prohibited.
A full list of protected species of reptiles and amphibians in Rhode Island can be found in the Rhode Island Hunting Regulations, section 9.15.B. 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 9.15).
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 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. 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 a 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 elevated stands during the muzzleloader deer season. Once in an elevated stand, archery deer hunters are exempt from the orange requirement during the muzzleloader deer season.
- 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: Raccoon hunters when hunting at night, crow hunters while hunting over decoys, spring turkey hunters, first segment dove hunters, and waterfowl hunters while hunting from a boat or a blind, over water or field, when done in conjunction with decoys. Fluorescent orange is not required in areas limited to archery-only hunting by regulation.
All Other Users:
In addition to the above hunter requirements, all other users of State Management areas and designated undeveloped State Parks, including but not limited to: hikers, bikers, and horseback riders are required to wear two hundred (200) square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February (September 9, 2017 – February 28, 2018) and the third Saturday in April to the last day in May, annually (April 21, 2018 – May 31, 2018). Except during shotgun deer season when five hundred (500) square inches are required.