Hikers, Hunters, Horseback Riders, Mountain Bikers
What You Need to Know When You Are Outdoors
Fall and winter days are great times to enjoy Connecticut's woodlands. Whether you like to hike, horseback ride, mountain bike, hunt, or fish, it's a good idea to observe a few safety precautions while afield.
Outdoor Safety Tips
- If you hike, ride, hunt, or fish alone, let somebody know where you will be.
- Familiarize yourself with the area you will be using, and know the activities which occur there.
- Ask landowners' permission to hike, ride, hunt, or fish.
- Dress appropriately and be prepared for any sudden changes in the weather.
- Wear bright clothing (400 square inches of fluorescent orange are required for hunters) to increase your visibility. Dogs should wear a bright orange vest when accompanying you on a hike.
- Avoid wearing gray, brown, tan, or white when hiking in hunted areas.
- Consider using a bell on your bike or horse during the hunting season.
- If you see someone hunting, call out to them to identify your location.
- Peak hunting occurs in early morning and late afternoon, primarily during the months of October through December.
- Look up and watch out for hazardous trees while in forested areas. Several years of storms, drought, and insect infestations have severely damaged a significant number of Connecticut's trees. A "hazard tree" has a structural defect that makes it likely to fail in whole or in part. Such a tree can fall without warning.
Connecticut Hunting Seasons
Hunting is regulated by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection as part of its comprehensive wildlife management program. Listings of all seasons and pertinent regulations are published annually in the Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide and the Migratory Bird Hunting Guide, which are available online and also at town halls, DEEP offices, and license vendor agents.
Hunting Season Dates: PEAK HUNTING ACTIVITY for small game and deer occurs from the THIRD SATURDAY IN OCTOBER THROUGH DECEMBER. Early morning hours (before 9:00 AM) are the most active hunting times, especially on Saturdays and holidays.
Sunday Hunting: Licensed 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. Sunday hunting also is allowed on licensed private shooting preserves when the operator has permission from the town.
Hunting Areas: Hunting is allowed at: 1) specified state-owned lands (state forests, wildlife management areas), 2) privately-owned land where landowners have granted permission, 3) permit-regulated hunting areas, 4) state-leased hunting areas, 5) registered private shooting preserves, and 6) lakes, rivers, and tidal wetlands during waterfowl hunting seasons. Hunting does not occur at most state parks. Consult the current Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide or the CT Interactive Hunting Area Map for a listing of state-owned, state-leased, and permit-regulated lands that are open to hunting.
Private Property: Many private landowners allow hunting on their property. All hunters are required to obtain permission from the landowner before hunting. Sportsmen, as well as hikers, are encouraged to develop a responsible and open relationship with the landowner. As a landowner, if you suspect that unauthorized hunting is occurring on your property, call the DEEP Environmental Conservation Police T.I.P. hotline for assistance (1-800-842-HELP).
Is Hunting Safe?
- Hunting accidents among hunters are rare; those involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
- Connecticut's hunting accident rate has continually been below the national average and is far lower than the accident rates of other outdoor recreational activities.
- Connecticut's Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program is recognized as one of the best in North America.
- Hunter education and stricter regulations have dramatically reduced hunting accidents over the past two decades.
- Connecticut's hunting statutes and regulations are among the strictest in the country.
- Hunting laws and regulations are formulated by professional wildlife biologists and conservation law enforcement officers.
- Hunter-funded land acquisition efforts of state wildlife agencies support a broad spectrum of public recreation.
Want to Learn More About Outdoor Safety?
Take a Conservation Education/Firearms Safety (CE/FS) Course. All first-time license buyers who intend to hunt or trap in Connecticut must successfully complete a hunter education course offered by the Wildlife Division's Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program. Courses are taught throughout the year by a dedicated corps of certified volunteer instructors. These free courses are educational for both hunters and non-hunters alike (An online course may require a small fee).
Course topics include:
- Wildlife Management
- Wildlife Identification
- Orienteering Outdoor Survival Skills
- Firearms Safety
- Hunter Ethics
For information on course availability, visit the CE/FS webpage.
Content last updated on January 13, 2020.