Hunting Laws and Regulations
2020 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide
The use and possession of firearms, ammunition, and bowhunting equipment is regulated in the interest of public safety and the conservation of wildlife. Hunters are also subject to any federal, state, or municipal firearms regulations. General restrictions on the use of firearms, air guns, and bowhunting equipment are described below.
Several new regulations became effective in early 2020. Any new regulations related to hunting and trapping are NOT reflected in the printed version of the 2020 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide. However, they are reflected in the hunting guide information on the DEEP website.
New statutes and regulations related to hunting and trapping may be added during the calendar year or some may change. Although we do our best to have the most up-to-date information in this guide, be prepared for changes to occur. The best way to stay current is to check the hunting and trapping sections of the DEEP website regularly, especially before hunting seasons start.
- Sunday Hunting - Possession of hunting implements in the open on Sunday is prima facie evidence of violation (except for archery deer hunters on private land in designated Deer Management Zones). Sunday hunting is allowed on licensed private shooting preserves and regulated dog training areas when the operator has permission from the town. Hunting may also take place on Sunday at permitted field trial events.
Archery deer hunters can hunt on private land only on Sundays in ALL Deer Management Zones (zone map). All archery deer hunting on Sundays must take place at least 40 yards away from blazed hiking trails.
- Deer Management Zones 2 and 4A Restriction - During the Private Land Shotgun/Rifle and Private Land Muzzleloader seasons, the "Antlerless Only" tag is NOT valid in Deer Management Zones 2 and 4A. Only the "Either Sex" tag will be valid in Zones 2 and 4A.
- Prima Facie Evidence of Hunting - Possession by any person of a loaded hunting implement while at or entering or leaving an area where a reasonable person would believe the objective was to take wildlife. Except that a person may, one hour before sunrise during the regulated deer and turkey firearms hunting seasons, be in possession of a loaded rifle or shotgun provided a live round is not in the chamber of the rifle or shotgun.
- Loaded Hunting Implement - (A) a rifle or shotgun with a live round in the chamber or in a magazine which is attached to such rifle or shotgun, a muzzle-loaded firearm with the primer in place, or a flintlock firearm with powder in the pan, (B) a bow and arrow with an arrow notched on the bow, (C) a drawn crossbow with a bolt in place, or (D) a high velocity air gun that is charged with a projectile in the chamber or in a magazine that is attached to such air gun.
- Hunting While Under the Influence or Impaired - No person shall engage in hunting while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, or both, or while impaired by the consumption of intoxicating liquor.
- Hunting Near Roads, Buildings, People, and Domestic Animals - Hunting or shooting from or across the traveled portion of any public roadway is prohibited. Shooting toward any person, building, or domestic animal when within range is prohibited.
- Motor Vehicle/ATV Use - Hunting or shooting from a motor vehicle is prohibited. The use of all-terrain vehicles is prohibited on state land (see exceptions under Hunting Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities).
- Closed Season - NEW! No hunting and no training of dogs from October 10 through 1/2-hour before sunrise, EDT, on October 17, 2020, except for the hunting of rails in marshes; waterfowl hunting; legal deer, turkey, and coyote hunting; licensed private shooting preserves operating under the provisions of Sec. 26-48; field trials held under the provisions of Sec. 26-51 and Sec. 26-52; the training of hunting dogs under the provisions of Sec. 26-49 of the General Statutes; and the training of hunting dogs on any area approved by the department for this purpose.
- Electronic Calling Devices - The use of electronic calling devices is prohibited when hunting wild turkeys and migratory birds (except crows). Electronic calling devices can be used when hunting crows, coyotes, other small game, and deer.
- Hunting Prohibited in Westport: By special state regulation, hunting within the Westport town borders is prohibited.
Trap or target shooting on any state property or public hunting area is prohibited unless the area is a designated shooting range. Four state-owned public shooting ranges are available for target shooting, patterning shotguns, and sighting in rifles.
Wooster Mountain State Park Cooperative Shooting Range - Wooster Mountain State Park, Danbury. Operated by the Danbury Shooting Sports Association. Located on Route 7, approximately two miles south of the Danbury Mall. Clay target shooting allowed. Call 203-794-9821 or check the Wooster Mountain Shooting Range website for the daily time and fee schedule.
High Rock Cooperative Shooting Range - Naugatuck State Forest, Naugatuck. Operated by the High Rock Shooting Association, Inc. Range hours: Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday, 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm (check website for scheduled closures). Range fee: $5.00 for the first hour and $5.00 per hour thereafter. No clay targets allowed. State pistol permit required to shoot handguns. Call 203-720-1101 or check the High Rock Shooting Association website for information.
Nye Holman Field Archery Range - Nye Holman State Forest, Tolland, Rte. 74. Entrance on South River Road. Field course available to public at all times unless posted otherwise. Field points only, arrows with broadheads are strictly prohibited.
Individuals wishing to participate in the sport of falconry must obtain a Connecticut falconry permit prior to obtaining a falconry bird. Falconers are required to abide by the same regulations that pertain to other hunters who hunt small game and waterfowl. Any public hunting area open for small game or waterfowl hunting may also be used by falconers. Verbal permission is required on private lands. Falconers must wear fluorescent orange and must obtain the same licenses, stamps, and permits required for small game and waterfowl hunting. A non-resident falconry permit is required prior to any non-resident practicing falconry in Connecticut. (more info about falconry)
The holder of a firearms hunting license may use rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns, and high-velocity air guns subject to certain restrictions.
- 500 Foot Zone - It is prohibited to hunt with, shoot, or carry a loaded firearm within 500 feet of any building occupied by people or domestic animals, or used for storage of flammable material, or within 250 feet of such buildings when waterfowl hunting in tidal areas from land shooting positions or from floating blinds anchored adjacent to land or from rock positions, unless written permission for lesser distances is obtained from the owner and carried. Landowners, their spouse, and lineal descendants are exempt from this restriction, providing any building involved is their own. The 500 foot zone does not apply to bowhunting.
- Firearms in Vehicles - It is prohibited to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle. This does not apply to persons with handguns who have a valid Connecticut permit to carry pistols or revolvers.
- Rifles and Handguns - Rifles or handguns using ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire are prohibited on state-owned land. Rifles or handguns of any caliber are prohibited on State-leased and Permit-Required Hunting Areas (see Permit-Required and State-Leased Hunting Area sections for exceptions). The use of rifles or handguns to hunt turkeys, waterfowl, or any other federally regulated migratory game bird (except crows) is prohibited. Hunting on private land with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle during the private land shotgun/rifle deer season is prohibited unless the user has a valid private land deer season permit and landowner consent form. The use of rifles or revolvers to hunt deer is subject to additional restrictions (see Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Season). The use of ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire to hunt raccoon or opossum at night is prohibited. A person using a handgun for hunting must possess any required state/town permits to carry. Note: It is legal to use .17 caliber rimfire firearms in all situations where it is legal to use .22 caliber rimfire firearms.
- Shotguns - The possession of shotgun ammunition larger or heavier than #2 shot is prohibited on state-owned lands, state-leased lands, and Permit-Required Hunting Areas, at all times, and is prohibited on private lands during the Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Deer Season (see Permit-Required and State-Leased Hunting Area sections for exceptions). However, on any lands, waterfowlers hunting from a boat, blind, or stationary position may use up to and including size BB steel shot. The possession of lead shot while hunting waterfowl, rails, and coot is prohibited. The use of shotguns larger than 10-gauge for hunting waterfowl is prohibited. Shotguns must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells (2 in the magazine, 1 in the chamber) when hunting waterfowl, other migratory birds (except crows), deer on state lands, and turkey. The exception is that unplugged shotguns are legal to use during the September Canada goose season. The use of shotguns to hunt deer or turkey is subject to additional restrictions (see Deer Hunting and Turkey Hunting).
- Muzzleloaders - During Muzzleloader Deer Seasons, a muzzleloader means a rifle or shotgun, .45 caliber minimum, incapable of firing a self-contained cartridge, using powder and a single projectile loaded separately at the muzzle end. Shotgun converters and telescopic sights are legal. Restrictions on the use of smoothbore muzzleloaders for hunting small game and waterfowl are the same as those for shotguns. Restrictions on the use of muzzleloading rifles for hunting small game are the same as those for rifles, except that on state-owned land, up to a .36 caliber muzzleloading rifle using round ball ammunition only may be used. A percussion/in-line muzzleloader with a cap or primer installed, an electronic muzzleloader with a battery connected, or a flintlock muzzleloader having powder in the pan are considered loaded firearms.
- High-Velocity Air Guns - Are restricted to those that use a single ball or pellet-like projectile. Additional restrictions on the use of air guns are the same as those for rifles and handguns.
- Bowhunter Education - All bowhunters must show proof when purchasing a small game/deer archery permit that they have completed the CE/FS bowhunting course (since 1982) or its equivalent from another state or country. If you have previously purchased a 2002, or later, Connecticut bowhunting license you have already provided such proof.
- Legal Bows and Arrows - For the purposes of hunting deer and turkey, legal bows include long, recurved, or compound bows with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds and crossbows. Mechanical string release devices are permitted. Projectiles coated with any drug, poison, or tranquilizing substance are prohibited.
Crossbows: The use of crossbows for hunting deer, turkey, and all other species is permitted. Legal crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and permanent fixed rifle type stock with a functional mechanical safety device. Adjustable crossbow stocks are permitted, but folding stocks are not. The bolt (arrow) length must be at least 18 inches, excluding the broadhead. Crossbows are considered loaded when fully drawn with a bolt in place. Telescopic sights are permitted.
Arrowheads: Legal arrowheads for hunting deer and turkey must have at least two blades and be at least 7/8 inch wide at its widest point. Arrowheads that are designed to open on impact are legal provided they meet the above requirement.
- Possession of a Firearm - Possession of a firearm while archery hunting is prohibited.
During the period September 1 through the last day of February, hunters (including persons hunting with deer damage permits) are required to wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing above the waist and visible from all sides. An orange hat, in addition to a coat or vest, is strongly recommended.
The following hunters are exempt from this requirement:
Archery Deer Hunters hunting from September 15 to November 17 and from January 1 to January 31.
Archery Deer Hunters hunting during the November 18 to December 31 time period may remove their fluorescent orange clothing when hunting from an elevated stand at least 10 feet above the ground.
Firearms and Archery Turkey Hunters
Waterfowl Hunters while hunting from boats, duck blinds, or other stationary positions.
Crow Hunters while hunting from a blind or a stationary position.
Coyote and Fox Hunters when hunting from a blind except during firearms deer seasons and fall firearms turkey seasons.
Raccoon and Opossum Hunters when hunting from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise.
Landowners while hunting deer only on their own property. Family members are still required to wear fluorescent orange.
All hunters are required to have permission from the landowner when hunting on private lands. Verbal permission for the hunting of species other than deer and turkey is sufficient.
- Deer Hunters and Turkey Hunters - must have written permission of the landowner for the current season on official DEEP forms. Copies of the form must be carried while hunting. Old forms, still available at some town clerks and DEEP offices, or a photocopy of the official form found in this guide must be used. The form must be dated for the current season, indicate the hunting implement types authorized by the landowner, and have the landowner's original signature. A landowner must have a minimum of 10 acres to authorize the use of a rifle or revolver for deer hunting. There is no minimum acreage requirement for using a shotgun, muzzleloader, or archery equipment.
- Trappers - must obtain, and have in possession, the written permission of the landowner when trapping on their land. WRITTEN PERMISSION MUST BE RENEWED ANNUALLY. Trappers have the option to use an official DEEP form to obtain written permission.
- Landowners and Lineal Descendants - are exempt from the requirement to carry written permission while hunting deer or turkey on their own land.
Connecticut law provides protection from liability to landowners who allow, without a fee, the recreational use of their property.
Sec. 52-557g. Owner of land available to public for recreation not liable, when (b) Except as provided in section 52-557h, an owner of land who, either directly or indirectly, invites or permits without charge, rent, fee, or other commercial service any person to use such land or part thereof for recreational purposes does not thereby:
- Make any representation that the premises are safe for any purpose;
- Confer upon such person who enters or uses such land for such recreational purposes the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed;
- Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of such owner.
Sec. 52-557h. Owner liable when: Nothing in sections 52-557f to 52-557i, inclusive, limits in any way the liability of any owner of land which otherwise exists;
- For willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity;
- For 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 subdivision thereof, any consideration received by the owner for such lease shall not be deemed a charge within the meaning of this section.
- Daily Limit - the number of a particular species that may be taken by an individual during a day (from 12:01 A.M. to 12:00 midnight). While in the field, a hunter may not have in their possession more than the daily bag limit for a species.
- Possession in Storage - the number of a particular non-migratory game species kept in storage may not exceed the cumulative daily bag limits for that species since the season began, and at no time can it exceed the season limit. The possession in storage of migratory game species such as waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, coots and rail may not exceed the federally regulated possession limit.
- Season Limit - the total number of a particular species that may be taken during an open season.
In accordance with Connecticut General Statute 26-61, the payment of a fine, forfeiture of a bond, or a plea or judgment of guilty for fishing, hunting, and trapping violations may result in the suspension of all sport fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses and privileges.
To comply with the provisions of C.G.S. Section 26-31(g), any person having their hunting license suspended for the following safety violations will be required to complete a remedial hunter education course prior to reinstatement of such license following the suspension period. Completion of a CE/FS course is also required if the hunter under suspension has not been previously certified. Please note that if enrollment in the Remedial Hunter Education course is less than five individuals, the class will be cancelled and you will be notified beforehand by telephone of the cancellation.
Section 26-61 as amended by PA 16-160: Suspension of license, registration, or permit. Restoration. Fines
Section 26-62: Hunting related injuries/death to any person, animal other than a wild animal or damage to property of another
Section 26-73: Hunting on Sunday (exception: private shooting preserves and archery deer hunters on private land)
Section 26-74: Use of motor vehicle in hunting
Section 26-91: Taking of migratory birds
Violations for hunting before or after legal hunting hours
Section 53-204: Hunting from a public highway
Section 53-205: Loaded weapon in a motor vehicle
Sec. 53-206d as amended by PA-16-152: Carrying of firearm while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug
Sec. 53a-217e: Negligent Hunting
- Regulations - Behavior and Actions of Hunters
(c) hunting before or after legal hours
(d) hunting within 500' of occupied buildings
(e) discharging toward people/animals or across public roadways
(a) hunting before or after legal hours
What is HIP? HIP, the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program, is a survey program developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in cooperation with state wildlife agencies. Its purpose is to improve the estimates of migratory bird harvests throughout the United States. These improved estimates will give wildlife managers the additional information needed to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits, and population management.
HIP became effective in Connecticut and all other states in fall 1998. Up until June 30, 2016, any person licensed to hunt migratory birds in Connecticut, including lifetime license holders, was required to purchase a Connecticut HIP permit. Legislation (Public Act 16-27) that took effect July 1, 2016, changed the requirements to hunt migratory birds (waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rails, and crows). The $13 Connecticut Duck Stamp has been merged with the $4 Harvest Information Permit (HIP) into a single Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp, which costs $17. This single stamp is required for anyone hunting waterfowl, rails, snipe, woodcock, and crows.
All hunters, regardless of where they hunt, should be prepared for the possibility of being harassed. Your behavior if you are harassed is extremely important. Maintain your composure and do not retaliate. If you are interviewed by the media, project a positive image. Connecticut has a hunter harassment law that protects the rights of sportsmen. If you decide to press charges, make sure you have a strong case by:
- making it evident that the antagonists are following you by going in several directions;
- asking your antagonists why they are harassing you;
- being able to identify and describe the individuals;
- taking the license numbers of their vehicles if possible; and
- not responding with violence or threatening a protester with bodily harm.
Content last updated on April 13, 2020.