2023-24 Rhode Island Hunting Regulation Changes & Highlights

Key Regulation Changes for 2023-2024 Hunting Season

  1. North West Cooperative in Glocester: This area is now closed to hunting.
  2. Deer Decoys Usage: Now permitted on state-owned Wildlife Management Areas during archery-only deer seasons, in addition to private lands.
  3. Deer Recovery with Dogs: Hunters may use one (1) dog to aid in the recovery of deer. Further details are available in the Deer Hunting section.
  4. Dove Season Shooting Hours: Set to one half (1/2) hour before sunrise until sunset for all segments.
  5. Dove Bag Limit: May now include Eurasian collared doves in the aggregate count.
  6. Pheasant and Small Game Opening Day Hours: Shooting starts at sunrise on opening day and all subsequent hunting days.
  7. Heritage Property on Prudence Island: Closed to small game hunting during the archery-only deer season.
  8. Goose Decoy Requirements: Minimum number of goose decoys required on SSMA premises has been reduced from 24 to 12.
  9. Mallard Bag Limit: Increased to four (4), with a maximum of two (2) being hen mallards.
  10. Brant Season and Bag Limit: Season duration reduced to 30 days and bag limit decreased to one (1) brant.

Lottery Applications and Cooperative Hunting Properties

  • Block Island and USFWS Hunting Lottery: Applications must be submitted by September 15th. For Block Island, visit rio.ri.gov; for Trustom Pond NWR, visit rhodeislandpermits.recaccess.gov.
  • New Cooperative Hunting Properties: Additional properties open to deer hunting are indicated on the State Lands & Canada Goose Map.

Our Mission

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.

Definitions

Antlerless deer – deer having no antlers or antlers less than three (3) inches in length.

Archery proficiency certification – 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.

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 deer.

Field possession limit – the maximum number of game of a single species or combination of species 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.

Junior Hunter – any person 12-14 years of age who possesses a hunter safety education certificate. Junior hunters may only hunt in the immediate company of an adult 21 years of age or older, who possesses a current RI hunting license.

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 (3) miles.

Hunter Safety Course Requirements & Licensing in Rhode Island

Essential Requirements for First-Time Hunters and Archers

  • Mandatory Safety Courses: First-time applicants for a hunting license or archery permit, who have not served in the armed forces, must complete a course in safe hunting or archery practices.
  • Hunter Education Certificate: Issuance of this certificate is a prerequisite for obtaining a license.

Licensing Criteria

  • Proof of Education or Experience: Applicants must present one of the following:
    • A valid hunter safety certificate from Rhode Island or another state.
    • A previous hunting license from Rhode Island or another state.
    • Proof of current or honorably discharged military status.
  • Special Requirement for Archery: Proof of successful completion of an Archery Safety Education course is required for an archery deer permit or fall archery turkey permit.

Resources for Hunter Education

Prohibited Activities in Rhode Island Hunting

Firearms and Hunting Practices

  • No Loaded Firearms in Vehicles: Rifles or shotguns must not be loaded in or on vehicles (RIGL 20-13-8).
  • Hunting Near Highways Prohibited: It's illegal to shoot at, hunt, or pursue game on or across public highways (RIGL 20-13-9).
  • Firing into Unpermitted Land: Shooting into land without the landowner's permission is punishable by law.
  • Hunting on Posted Land: Requires landowner permission (RIGL 11-44-4, 5).

Specific Location Restrictions

  • State Parks: Hunting is not allowed in state parks, except in designated undeveloped areas.
  • Group Hunting Limit: No more than five persons are allowed to hunt together (RIGL 20-13-11).
  • State Land Shooting: Target or trap shooting on state lands is restricted to designated ranges (RIGL 32-2-4).

Safety and Ethical Hunting

  • Substance Influence: Hunting under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited (RIGL 20-13-10).
  • Drone Usage: Utilizing drones or similar unmanned systems to disturb wildlife or aid in hunting is banned (RIHR 9.17 N).
  • Spotlighting: Prohibited for wild animals and birds from September 15 to the end of February (RIHR 9.7.2.F).
  • Shooting Animals on Utility Structures: Illegal at any time (RIHR 9.17.H).

Wildlife and Bird Protection

  • Swans and Turkeys: Importing, possessing, or selling mute swans, pen-reared, or hybrid wild turkeys and their eggs is prohibited (RIHR 9.17.B).
  • Importing Live Birds/Animals: Requires a permit (RIGL 20-17-9).
  • Bird Taking Methods: Only shotguns, bow and arrow, or falconry are permitted without a specific permit (RIGL 20-14-7).
  • Game Sale: Restricted as per regulations (RIGL 20-13-14).

Feeding and Baiting

  • Wildlife Feeding and Baiting: Not allowed in Rhode Island except under defined circumstances (RIHR 9.17.J).

Discharge and Firearm Restrictions in Rhode Island Hunting

Handling of Firearms and Archery Equipment

  • Carrying Loaded Firearms: It's illegal to carry a loaded firearm or archery equipment outside of legal shooting hours (RIGL 11-47-2).
  • Preparation for Legal Shooting Hours:
    • Hunters can load their firearms or archery equipment 15 minutes prior to legal shooting hours, provided they are stationary (RIHR 9.17.L).

Equipment Restrictions

  • Laser Sights and Night-Vision: The use or possession of laser sights that project a beam or night-vision equipment while hunting is prohibited (RIHR 9.7.2.G).
  • Lead Shot Size Limitation: No lead shot larger than No. 2 is allowed at any time (RIGL 20-13-13).
  • Rifle Caliber Restrictions:
    • No rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire are permitted.
    • From April 1 to September 30, centerfire rifles no larger than .229 caliber may be used during daylight hours (RIGL 20-13-13).

Proximity Restrictions for Discharging Firearms and Archery

  • Firearms Near Dwellings:
    • Discharging a firearm within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling without written permission is prohibited (RIGL 20-13-7, RIGL 20-15-1).
  • Archery Near Dwellings:
    • Archery hunting within 200 feet of an occupied dwelling is not allowed without written permission (RIGL 20-15-1).

Key Federal Laws Governing Wildlife Protection

The Lacey Act of 1900

  • Scope and Purpose: This act is a cornerstone in U.S. wildlife law, focusing on the regulation of interstate and international commerce involving wildlife.
  • Definition of Wildlife: Under the act, wildlife includes wild animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mollusks, crustaceans, their dead bodies, parts, eggs, or offspring. However, it excludes migratory birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • Enforcement: The Lacey Act allows legal action against individuals who:
    • Transport, ship, or sell wildlife across state or international borders in violation of state or foreign laws.
    • Transport wildlife or related products that are not properly labeled or tagged.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

  • International Agreement: This act represents a crucial international commitment to the protection of migratory bird populations.
  • Federal Protection: Migratory birds are safeguarded by federal regulations, with allowances for state-level regulation within certain frameworks.
  • Protection Coverage: The act extends protection to all migratory birds, their parts, nests, and eggs, except for those species with designated open hunting seasons.

Fluorescent Orange Requirements for Hunters in Rhode Island

General Requirement

  • Visibility and Type: Hunters must wear solid fluorescent hunter orange above the waist, visible from all directions. Fluorescent camouflage is not acceptable.
  • Coverage Area: The requirement includes either a hat covering 200 square inches or a combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches.

Specific Requirements by Hunting Type and Season

  1. Small Game Hunters:
    • 200 square inches during the small game season.
  2. Fall Turkey Hunters:
    • 200 square inches while traveling.
  3. Muzzleloader Deer Hunters:
    • 200 square inches during the muzzleloader deer season.
  4. Archers (During Muzzleloader Season):
    • 200 square inches when traveling to/from elevated stands.
    • Exemption when in an elevated stand during the muzzleloader season.
  5. All Hunters (Including Archers) During Shotgun Deer Seasons:
    • 500 square inches in management areas and undeveloped state parks.
  6. Hunters Using Pop-Up Blinds (Firearms Deer Season):
    • 200 square inches of fluorescent orange visible on the outside of the blind from all directions.
    • Must wear orange in accordance with specific season rules while inside the blind.

Exemptions

  • Raccoon Hunters: Exempt when hunting at night.
  • Crow Hunters: Exempt while hunting over decoys.
  • Spring Turkey Hunters: No fluorescent orange requirement.
  • First Segment Dove Hunters: Exempt from wearing fluorescent orange.
  • Waterfowl Hunters: Exempt while hunting from a boat or a blind, over water or field, in conjunction with decoys.
  • Archery-Only Areas: No fluorescent orange required in archery-only hunting areas.

Importance

  • Safety Precaution: Wearing fluorescent orange is a critical safety measure to increase visibility and prevent hunting accidents.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to these requirements is essential for legal compliance and responsible hunting practices.

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!

Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.