Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Updates From 2022-2023 Season, Still Applying for 2023-2024
Licensing and Permits
- Online Services: Hunters can acquire licenses, stamps, and permits 24/7 through the DEEP Online Outdoor Licensing System or from various outdoor equipment retailers and some town halls (availability may vary by location).
- On-site License Sales: The Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods, the Franklin Field Office, and DEEP's Western District Headquarters are open for on-site purchases of hunting and fishing licenses from Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
- Eastern and Marine District Sales: Availability may be limited at the Eastern and Marine District Headquarters; contacting these offices in advance is recommended.
Federal Migratory Bird Hunting
- Electronic Duck Stamp: Hunters encountering issues buying the federal Duck Stamp can obtain an E-Stamp online, which serves as an immediate substitute until the physical stamp arrives by post.
Connecticut Hunting News
- Goshen Wildlife Management Area: An addition of approximately 631 acres has been made, for a total of 1,584 acres now open to regulated hunting for small game, wild turkey, pheasant, deer, and waterfowl.
- Meshomasic State Forest: DelReeves Road to be temporarily closed during culvert replacement to improve fish passage and mitigate water flow issues with work ending on December 24, 2022.
Talent Hunt Program
- Centennial Watershed State Forest: Archery hunting allowed on 7,867 acres, including Deer Lottery Area 56. Hunters require a free access permit via an application to participate in the deer management program.
Deer Lottery Permits
- Deer Lottery: Unsold permits will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis from March 15, 2022, online or at select DEEP offices.
- SARS-CoV-2 in Deer: Hunters are advised to maintain good hygiene during field dressing, as studies indicate potential exposure of white-tailed deer to COVID-19.
- Salmon River State Forest Expansion: Increased by 207.68 acres, the new open area for hunting is marked and accessible through the DEEP Interactive Hunting Area Map.
National Wildlife Refuges in Connecticut
Expanded Hunting Opportunities
- Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge: Additional archery deer and waterfowl hunting areas are now available at multiple units in the refuge. Maps and regulations accessible through USFWS website.
Remember, before visiting or hunting in state forests, parks, or management areas to avoid parking in front of closed gates and follow all guidance. Always have the required USFWS Hunt Brochure on hand while hunting at federal refuges.
Connecticut Hunting Laws and Regulations Summary
Firearms, Ammunition, and Bowhunting Equipment Regulations
- General Rules: The use and possession of firearms, ammunition, and bowhunting equipment are strictly regulated to ensure public safety and wildlife conservation. Hunters must comply with federal, state, and municipal regulations.
- Changes to Regulations: New laws and modifications to current regulations may occur throughout the year. It's advisable to check the latest Hunting Guide or the official website for updates before hunting seasons commence.
- Sunday Hunting: Generally prohibited, with exceptions for archery deer hunting on private lands in all Deer Management Zones and on licensed private shooting preserves, regulated dog training areas, and during official field trial events.
- Deer Management Zones: In zones 2 and 4A, the "Antlerless Only" tag is not accepted during certain private land seasons.
- Prima Facie Evidence of Hunting: Possession of a loaded hunting implement under circumstances indicating an intent to hunt is considered presumption of one's intent to hunt. A loaded rifle or shotgun may be carried one hour before sunrise during regulated deer and turkey firearms hunting seasons, provided no live round is in the chamber.
- Definition of a Loaded Hunting Implement: Includes firearms with ammunition ready to fire, a bow with an arrow notched, a drawn crossbow with a bolt, or a high velocity air gun ready to shoot.
Safety and Ethical Hunting Practices
- Hunting Under Influence: Hunting while under the influence of intoxicating substances is illegal.
- Proximity to Roads and Buildings: It is unlawful to hunt or shoot from or across public roadways, or towards people, buildings, or animals within range.
- Motor Vehicles and ATVs: Using motor vehicles or ATVs for hunting or shooting on state land is banned, with certain exceptions.
Hunting Seasons and Activities
- Closed Season: No hunting or dog training is allowed from October 8 until sunrise on October 15, 2022, with specific exceptions for certain wildlife and regulated activities.
- Electronic Calling Devices: Using electronic calling devices is banned for hunting wild turkeys and migratory birds except crows. They are permitted for hunting crows, coyotes, other small game, and deer.
- Westport Hunting Ban: Special regulations prohibit hunting within the town borders of Westport.
Ethical Hunting Conduct
- Hunters should maintain a respectful distance from trails, not impair public safety, and must engage in legal and regulated hunting practices within specified zones while adhering to seasonal regulations to preserve the ecological integrity and public enjoyment of Connecticut's natural resources.
Public Shooting Ranges in Connecticut
Guidelines and Availability
- Allowed Activities: Target shooting, patterning shotguns, and sighting in rifles.
- Prohibition: Trap or target shooting is not permitted on state property or public hunting areas outside of designated shooting ranges.
- Designated Ranges: Four state-owned ranges offer facilities for the public.
State-Owned Public Shooting Range Details
Wooster Mountain State Park Cooperative Shooting Range
- Location: Wooster Mountain State Park, Danbury—Route 7, about two miles south of Danbury Mall.
- Managed By: Danbury Shooting Sports Association.
- Activity: Clay target shooting is permitted.
- Contact: 203-794-9821.
- More Info: Visit the Wooster Mountain Shooting Range website for daily hours and fees.
High Rock Cooperative Shooting Range
- Location: Naugatuck State Forest, Naugatuck.
- Managed By: High Rock Shooting Association, Inc.
- Hours: Saturdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sundays from 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm (confirm on website for possible closures).
- Fees: $5.00 for the first hour, $5.00 for each additional hour.
- Restrictions: No clay targets; state pistol permit required for handguns.
- Contact: 203-720-1101.
- More Info: Check the High Rock Shooting Association website for updates.
Glastonbury Public Shooting Range
- Location: Meshomasic State Forest, Glastonbury—entry via Toll Gate Road.
- Targets: Paper only; no clay targets.
- Fees: None, but reservations are necessary.
Nye Holman Field Archery Range
- Location: Nye Holman State Forest, Tolland—entry on South River Road, Route 74.
- Facility: Field course open to the public unless posted.
- Restrictions: Only field points allowed; broadheads are strictly prohibited.
For detailed information on shooting opportunities and to confirm availability or make reservations, refer to the official Public Shooting Opportunities section on the state's website.
Falconry Permit Requirements in Connecticut
- To engage in falconry, an individual must first secure a Connecticut falconry permit.
- Falconers are subject to all the regulations that apply to typical small game and waterfowl hunters.
- Falconry can be practiced in any public hunting area designated for small game or waterfowl.
- On private lands, falconers must obtain verbal permission from the landowner.
- When practicing falconry, the individual is required to wear fluorescent orange attire.
- Falconers must possess all necessary licenses, stamps, and permits akin to those needed for hunting small game and waterfowl.
- Non-residents wishing to practice falconry in Connecticut must obtain a specific non-resident falconry permit.
Connecticut Firearms Hunting Regulations
Safety Zones and Permissions
- 500 Foot Zone: Hunting with firearms within 500 feet of a building occupied by people or domestic animals, or used for flammable storage, is prohibited, unless written permission is obtained and carried by the hunter. Waterfowl hunting from specific shooting positions in tidal areas must observe a 250-foot safety zone, with the same permission required for lesser distances. Property owners, their spouses, and direct descendants are excepted on their own land.
- Firearms in Vehicles: Transporting a loaded firearm in a vehicle is illegal, except for those with a valid Connecticut handgun permit.
Firearm Type Restrictions
- Rifles and Handguns: Usage of rifles or handguns with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire on state-owned land is disallowed. Restrictions also apply to State-leased and Permit-Required Hunting Areas. Federally regulated migratory game bird hunting with these firearms, as well as deer hunting on private land during certain seasons, is either restricted or prohibited outright, unless the hunter has the proper landowner consent and specific permits.
- Shotguns: Shotgun ammunition larger than #2 shot is restricted on various public lands and during certain seasons on private lands. Hunting waterfowl with sizes up to BB steel shot is permitted under specific conditions. Lead shot and shotguns larger than 10-gauge are banned for waterfowl hunting, and capacity is limited to three shells. There are additional stipulations and season-specific rules.
- Muzzleloaders: Defined as .45 caliber minimum rifles or shotguns, these should be incapable of firing a self-contained cartridge and have powder and a projectile loaded separately. There are specific rules for muzzleloading during deer seasons, and smoothbore types must adhere to shotgun rules.
Specialized Equipment Rules
- High-Velocity Air Guns: These are permitted provided they fire a single ball or pellet-like projectile and follow the same regulations as rifles and handguns.
Connecticut Bowhunting Regulations
- Proof of CE/FS bowhunter education course completion, since 1982, or an equivalent from another jurisdiction, is required when purchasing a Connecticut small game/deer archery permit. Previous purchase of a Connecticut bowhunting license in 2002 or thereafter indicates compliance.
Archery Equipment Specifications
- Legal Bows: Authorized for deer and turkey hunting are long bows, recurve bows, and compound bows with no less than 40 pounds of draw weight, as well as crossbows.
- Mechanical Devices: Mechanical string releases are permitted during bowhunting.
- Prohibited Projectiles: It is unlawful to use arrows coated with drugs, poison, or tranquilizing substances.
- Crossbows are legal for hunting various species including deer and turkey.
- They must have a draw weight of at least 125 pounds and a non-folding, permanent fixed rifle type stock, equipped with a mechanical safety device. Adjustable stocks are acceptable.
- Bolts (arrows) must measure no less than 18 inches in length, not including the broadhead.
- A crossbow is deemed 'loaded' when it is fully drawn and has a bolt in position. Telescopic sights are permissible.
- Legal hunting arrowheads must feature a minimum of two blades and expand to at least 7/8 inch wide at their broadest point.
- Expandable arrowheads are legal, providing they satisfy size requirements when open.
Firearm Possession Restriction
- Carrying a firearm while archery hunting is strictly prohibited.
Connecticut Fluorescent Orange Hunting Requirements
- From September 1 to the end of February, hunters, including those with deer damage permits, must wear a minimum of 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the waist, ensuring visibility from all directions. Additionally, wearing an orange hat along with a coat or vest is highly recommended for safety.
- Archery Deer Hunters: Exempt during two phases, from September 15 to November 15 and from January 1 to January 31.
- Elevated Archery Hunters: Can remove fluorescent orange clothing from November 16 to December 31 while in elevated stands at least 10 feet high.
- Firearms and Archery Turkey Hunters: Not required to adhere to the orange clothing mandate.
- Waterfowl Hunters: No orange requirement when hunting from boats, duck blinds, or stationary positions.
- Crow Hunters: Exempt when hunting from a blind or stationary setup.
- Coyote and Fox Hunters: Not required to wear orange when in a blind, except for during firearms deer seasons and fall firearms turkey seasons.
- Raccoon and Opossum Hunters: Exempt during night hunting, from half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise.
- Landowner Exemption: Property owners hunting deer on their own land are exempt from wearing fluorescent orange. However, this exemption does not apply to their family members.
Private Land Hunting Permissions in Connecticut
Basic Permission Requirement
- All hunters must secure permission from landowners before hunting on private property. For species other than deer and turkey, verbal permission is adequate.
Specifics for Deer and Turkey Hunters
- Written permission on official DEEP forms is mandatory for the current season and must be in the hunter's possession.
- Acceptable forms include old DEEP forms, photocopies from the guide, or the latest official versions.
- Written permissions must be updated for each season, clearly specify allowed hunting implements, and bear the landowner's original signature.
- Rifle or revolver use for deer hunting on private land requires the landowner to have at least 10 acres. No acreage restriction exists for shotguns, muzzleloaders, or archery equipment.
- Trappers must obtain and carry written permission from landowners.
- This written permission needs to be renewed annually.
- Trappers can use an official DEEP form to obtain the required written permission.
Exemptions for Landowners and Their Families
- Landowners and their direct descendants are not required to carry written permission while hunting deer or turkey on their own property.
Connecticut Recreational Use Statute
Liability Protection for Landowners
- Connecticut law shields landowners from liability if they permit free recreational use of their land.
Conditions of Liability Protection
- The landowner does not ensure safety or imply that the premises are safe for recreational use.
- No invitation or permission granted to a person translates to them acquiring the legal status of an invitee or licensee, which would imply a duty of care.
- The landowner is not liable for injuries or damage resulting from their actions or lack thereof, as long as the land is used for recreational purposes without charge.
Exceptions to Protection
- Landowner liability remains for willful or malicious failures to warn or protect against known dangers.
- The statute does not cover injuries where the landowner charges fees for recreational use of the land. However, this does not include land leased to the state or a subdivision where the lease payment is not considered a charge for recreational use.
Understanding Bag Limits in Hunting
- Defines the maximum quantity of a specific species that an individual is allowed to hunt from 12:01 A.M. to 12:00 midnight.
- Hunters are prohibited from carrying more than the daily limit of a species while they are in the field.
Possession in Storage
- The stored number of a non-migratory game species must not surpass the sum of the daily bag limits since the start of the season or the overall season limit.
- For migratory game species, the stored quantity should never exceed the possession limit set by federal regulations.
- Indicates the aggregate number of a specific species that can be harvested by a hunter throughout the entirety of an open hunting season.
License Suspensions and Remedial Hunter Education in Connecticut
Grounds for Suspension
- Violations related to fishing, hunting, and trapping can lead to the suspension of licenses, as required by the Connecticut General Statute 26-61.
- Actions such as paying a fine, bond forfeiture, or a guilty plea or judgment can trigger such suspensions.
Remedial Education Requirement
- Under C.G.S. Section 26-31(g), safety violations demand a remedial hunter education course completion for license reinstatement after suspension.
- This requirement also applies to individuals without prior CE/FS certification.
- Note that remedial courses may be cancelled if enrollment falls below five participants.
Applicable Laws and Regulations
- Section 26-61: Addresses license suspensions and the process for restoration.
- Section 26-62: Relates to hunting-caused injuries to people or non-wild animals and property damage.
- Section 26-73: Prohibits Sunday hunting with exceptions.
- Section 26-74, Section 26-91, Section 53-204, and Section 53-205: Outline vehicle-related hunting regulations and firearm transportation laws.
- Sec. 53-206d: Pertains to carrying firearms under the influence.
- Sec. 53a-217e: Defines Negligent Hunting.
Hunter Behavior and Actions
- Section 26-66-1: Enforces legal hunting hours and safe discharge of firearms near occupied buildings and across public roadways.
- Section 26-86a-6: Reinforces restrictions on hunting outside of legal hours.
Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) in Connecticut
Overview of HIP
- HIP is a survey mechanism developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies for collecting detailed harvest data on migratory birds across the United States.
- The initiative, which began in fall 1998, supports informed decision-making on hunting seasons, bag limits, and bird population management.
Recent HIP Permit Changes
- If a HIP permit is purchased through a third-party license vendor, hunters should be aware of recent updates, which may influence the process. However, no changes apply when purchasing through DEEP's Online Licensing System.
HIP Permit Integration
- As of July 1, 2016, legislation (Public Act 16-27) merged the Connecticut Duck Stamp and Harvest Information Permit (HIP) into a unified Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp.
- The cost of the new consolidated stamp is $17 and is mandatory for hunting waterfowl, rails, snipe, woodcock, and crows in Connecticut.
Addressing Hunter Harassment in Connecticut
Preparation for Potential Harassment
- Be mentally prepared for harassment encounters while hunting in any location.
Appropriate Responses to Harassment
- Remain calm and avoid retaliation during harassment situations.
- Portray a positive demeanor if approached by media representatives.
Utilizing Connecticut's Hunter Harassment Law
- The law safeguards the rights of hunters facing harassment.
Steps to Strengthen Your Case
- Document harassment by demonstrating that harassers are purposely following you using different routes.
- Politely inquire harassers for their reasons behind their actions.
- Take note of harassers' physical descriptions for identification.
- Attempt to record license plate numbers of harassers' vehicles when possible.
- Do not engage in violent conduct or threaten harm towards protesters.