DEEP: Frequently Asked Questions about Hunting

General Hunting

Can I hunt on Sunday in Connecticut?
No. There have been several legislative proposals to remove this restriction, but those efforts have not been successful.

What is "Prima Facie Evidence" of hunting?
Prima facie is a Latin expression that means "on its first evidence," or "by first instance," or "at first sight." A literal translation from Latin to English would be "from first face." Thus, prima facie is applied to hunting as follows: if a person possesses a loaded hunting implement while at or while entering or leaving an area where a reasonable person would believe the objective was to take wildlife, it would be prima facie evidence of hunting. However, an exception to this regulation allows a person to be in possession of a rifle or shotgun with ammunition in the magazine one hour before sunrise during the regulated deer and turkey firearms hunting seasons, as long as a live round is not in the chamber of the rifle or shotgun.

How does the state define a "loaded hunting implement"?
In Connecticut, a hunting implement is considered to be "loaded" when it meets the following conditions:

  • Rifle or shotgun: a live round is in the chamber or in a magazine that is attached to such rifle or shotgun.
  • Muzzleloader: the percussion cap is in place, when powder is in the pan of a flintlock, or when the battery is connected on an electric ignition system.
  • Compound or long bow: an arrow is nocked on the bowstring.
  • Crossbow: when it is drawn with a bolt in place.
  • High velocity air gun: loaded when it is charged with a projectile in the chamber or a projectile is in the magazine that is attached to such air gun.

Do I need permission to hunt on private land in Connecticut?
Yes. All deer and turkey hunters must obtain written permission, dated for the current season, from the landowner on a DEEP consent form included in the Hunting and Trapping Guide and must carry this form with them at all times while hunting. Also, all small game hunters must at least have verbal permission from the landowner.

Can I use a handgun for hunting?
Yes. However, in Connecticut a handgun used for hunting small game on state-owned land must be no larger or heavier than .22 caliber. Handguns of any caliber are prohibited on state-leased land and Permit-Required Hunting Areas. Revolvers of .357 caliber or larger may be used to hunt deer on private land during the private land shotgun/rifle deer season if the landowner has authorized such use on the private land consent form. Revolvers may also be used by persons hunting with a free landowner deer permit during the landowner deer season. A person using a handgun for hunting must possess any required permits to carry. The use of handguns to hunt turkey or migratory game birds is prohibited.

Can a centerfire rifle be used for hunting?
Yes. However, rifles using ammunition larger or heavier than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle are prohibited on state-owned land. Rifles of any caliber are prohibited on state-leased and Permit-Required Hunting Areas. It is prohibited to hunt on private land with ammunition larger than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle during the private land shotgun/rifle deer season. A centerfire rifle that fires 6mm (.243 caliber) or larger ammunition may be used for deer hunting on private land if the landholding is 10 or more acres and the landowner has authorized rifle use on the DEEP consent form. For coyote hunting, a centerfire rifle may be used, but the hunter must have verbal permission from the landowner. However, during the shotgun/rifle deer hunting season, coyote hunters are restricted to ammunition not larger than .22 caliber rimfire long rifle.

Can I use a .17 caliber rimfire rifle to hunt small game on state lands?
Yes. It is legal to use .17 caliber rimfire firearms in all situations where it is legal to use .22 caliber rimfire long rifle firearms.

Are there any special hunting-related opportunities for youth hunters?
Yes. Junior hunter training days are established annually for firearms hunting during specified seasons. On these occasions, only a licensed junior hunter may hunt when accompanied by a licensed adult hunter 18 years of age or older. The adult hunter may not carry a firearm. These training days provide junior hunters with an opportunity to learn safe and effective hunting practice from experienced hunters. Also, the junior hunter must observe all regulations regarding permits and tags for hunting on private and state land.

Junior Hunter Training Days are provided during the following seasons: Spring Turkey, Pheasant, Waterfowl, and Deer

How do I find out about places to hunt on public land?
Consult the Hunting and Trapping Guide or visit the Public Hunting Areas page on the DEEP's website. Maps of most hunting areas are available online.

Can I use an ATV for hunting in Connecticut?
The answer depends upon how and where the ATV will be used. ATV's are not permitted on any state-owned or controlled properties, except by special permit. The use of ATV's for transportation on private lands is not restricted as long as landowner permission is obtained and the vehicle is properly registered. The only persons who may actually hunt from or on an ATV are certain handicapped individuals by special permit. In Connecticut, those eligible are restricted to paraplegics or those with severe, debilitating mobility conditions who cannot walk without the assistance of a cane, brace, crutch, etc. Once issued, an ATV permit holder must obtain additional authorization from a District Office to access specific sections of DEP properties. Those permitted to hunt from an ATV cannot possess or shoot a loaded weapon while the vehicle is in motion. 4-wheel drive trucks, vans, SUVs etc. are not considered ATV's.

Can a hunter use electronic calls?
Yes. Electronic calls can be used for all species except turkeys and migratory game birds. Crows are not considered migratory game birds which are subject to this restriction.

Deer Hunting

What is the minimum acreage required for deer hunting?
There is no minimum acreage required for hunting with shotguns, muzzleloaders or archery equipment. However, the hunter must observe the 500 Foot Buffer Zone whenever using firearms for hunting. Regardless of the hunting implement used, a hunter must not shoot toward any person, building, or domestic animal when within range.

Is baiting legal?
Generally, no. Baiting is allowed for deer hunting on private lands only in Zones 11 and 12.

The following apply to the deer hunting seasons in Connecticut.

  • Deer decoys may be used during the early and late archery seasons only.
  • All types of scent attractants (i.e., doe in heat, buck lure, urine, tarsal glands, food smells, smoke pole) may be used that provide no substance for deer to consume.
  • Hunting over planted fields where normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulation is used is permitted.

Licensing & Permits

How do I get a hunting license?
To obtain a hunting license, you must complete a course that is provided by the CE/FS program or its equivalent from another state OR have a RESIDENT license for firearms hunting that was issued within the past five years. There are special courses for firearms hunting, bowhunting, and trapping. Approximately two weeks after completing the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion in the mail, which you use to obtain a hunting license. The hunting license may be purchased online or from a vendor, such as a sporting goods store, or from a town hall.

I have an old NRA certificate issued prior to 1982. Is this valid for obtaining a hunting license?
No. The NRA course does not meet international standards for hunter education.

I have a pistol permit; do I still have to take the firearms hunter education course?
Yes.

I had a firearms hunting license last year, but I can't find it. Do I need it to get a new hunting license this year?
Yes. A resident hunting license issued within the previous five years or a hunter education certificate must be provided or verified through the Automated Licensing System. Connecticut hunting licenses are valid for a one-year period from January 1 through December 31.

I have a non-resident firearms hunting license issued from another state within the last five years. Is this sufficient for obtaining a CT hunting license?
No. It must be a resident firearms hunting license.

How do I get a bowhunting permit?
To purchase an archery deer or turkey permit you must have proof of completion of the CE/FS bowhunting course (since 1982) or its equivalent from another state or country. Certification cards from other states or provinces must specify "bowhunter education" to qualify. If you have been issued a Connecticut bowhunting permit since in 2002, you have already provided such proof.

What is the minimum age for hunting in Connecticut?
12 years of age.

If I have already purchased a junior hunter license for the current calendar year, do I need to buy one when I turn 16 this hunting season?
No. The Junior Hunting License is valid for a calendar year, as are other hunting licenses. At age 16, the youth may hunt alone with the Junior Hunting License.

If I do not plan on hunting, but wish to accompany others while they hunt, is this allowed?
Yes. Also, as long as you are not engaged in the pursuit of game or providing any act of assistance in taking game, you do not need a hunting license.

I took a hunter safety course in another state that included an introduction to bowhunting. Is this certificate acceptable for a Connecticut Archery Permit?
No. Unless the certification specifies "Bowhunting" from a separate bowhunting course that meets the International Bowhunter Education Program content standards, it would not qualify.

Do I need a hunting license if I participate in a hunt but do not take game with a hunting implement?
Yes. Everyone who joins a hunting party must possess a valid hunting license, if they are engaged in the hunt itself (pursuing the game) or assisting, such as calling in game for a fellow hunter.

Do I need a Firearms Hunting License or Archery Permit if I help a hunter carry or drag game out after it's been shot?
No. A Firearms Hunting License or Archery Permit is required if you are engaged in the act of hunting as someone who hunts or assists another hunter to pursue the game.

Do I need a Trapping License if I watch a trapper set a trap line or remove game after it has been dispatched and removed from a trap?
No. A Trapping License is required if you are engaged in the act of trapping, such as setting or assisting in the setting or running of trap lines.

Do I have to buy a Firearms Hunting License to hunt on land that I own?
No. Landowners are exempt from obtaining a Firearms Hunting License if they permanently reside on the property. However, deer and turkey permits are required to hunt these species on personally owned land.

Do I have to buy an Archery Permit if I am bowhunting on land that I own?
Yes. Landowners are only exempt from licenses but still have to obtain permits for deer or turkey hunting. Landowners and family members are eligible to receive a free landowner permit to hunt deer or turkey during the established special landowner seasons. In addition, landowners may also purchase regular season permits to hunt deer or turkey during the general firearms or archery seasons.

What is the minimum age to hunt or purchase a firearms hunting license or bowhunting permit in Connecticut?
A person must be at least 12 years old to hunt or to purchase a firearms hunting license or bowhunting permit in Connecticut. Persons 12 to 15 years old must purchase a Junior Hunting License and be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 18 years old or older while hunting. A licensed adult may not supervise more than 2 minors at one time while hunting. Junior Hunters are entitled to their own bag limits.

What is the minimum age to purchase a trapping license in Connecticut?
There is no minimum age requirement for trapping in Connecticut, but persons under 16 years old must purchase a Junior Trapping License.

Hunter Education Courses & Requirements

How do I find where and when courses are held?
Consult the hunting and trapping class page on the DEEP's website; email deep.franklinwildlife@ct.gov; or call 860-424-3011.

How long are the courses and what do they include?
Firearms hunter education courses are a minimum of 16 hours and usually involve 3 or 4 evenings and a weekend day. Bowhunter education and trapping courses are a minimum of 6 hours and usually involve a full day of instruction.

Does Connecticut offer an on-line (Internet-based) course?
Yes, but for firearms hunting certification only. Completion of this on-line course also involves a full day of classroom instruction, firearms handling exercises in field situations, and live fire.

Do I have to pay a fee for hunting and trapping classes?
There are no fees for the classes or instructional materials.

Can I bring someone else along to accompany me in class?
Yes. Parents and guardians are encouraged to take the courses with their children.

My son or daughter has a learning/reading problem. How will the course accommodate such difficulties with learning?
At the beginning of all courses, the instructors ask who in the class may have learning difficulties and they will provide one-on-one assistance with assignments and exams.

How old do I have to be to take the hunter education course?
Ten (10) years old, with written permission from a parent or guardian. A student must be at least ten (10) years old or reach the age of 10 by the end of the class.

I am on active duty with the armed services in Connecticut. What do I need to obtain a resident firearms hunting license? Do I have to take the course?
You will need a Certificate of Completion for a hunter education course from Connecticut, from your home state or have held a resident hunting license in another state during the past five years, or the equivalent from another country. If you do not possess a Certificate of Completion, you must complete the appropriate course for the license you seek to obtain the Certificate of Completion. Also, any active, full time member of the U.S. armed forces may purchase a Connecticut hunting, fishing, or trapping license at the same fees as a resident. Proof of full time membership during calendar year must be carried while using the license.

What equipment do I need to bring to a firearms hunter education class? For example, must I bring a firearm or ammo?
Students should bring a pencil or pen and a notepad to hunter education courses. Do not bring firearms or ammunition to CE/FS courses, since they will be provided. For full day classes students should bring a lunch or be prepared to obtain lunch if it is available from a nearby food service vendor.

Will I shoot a gun or a bow in the course?
In the firearms hunter education courses, every student must complete live fire with a .22 caliber rifle or a 20 gauge shotgun, unless weather restricts outdoor shooting, when BB guns may be substituted. In bowhunter education courses, students are encouraged to bring their personal bow and arrows if they possess this equipment to shoot and for discussion of proper bow/arrow setup for the archer.

Who teaches the courses?
Certified volunteer instructors with substantial experience in hunting and who are dedicated to sharing their skills and knowledge to promote safe hunting.

Hunter Education Certificates

How long will it take after completing a class for me to receive the certificate needed for licensing?
Approximately two weeks.

What should I do if I can't find or if I have lost my original hunter education certificate?
Email deep.franklinwildlife@ct.gov or call 860-424-3011 for a free replacement.

How do I get a copy of my hunter safety certificate?
Email deep.franklinwildlife@ct.gov or call 860-424-3011.

Will Connecticut accept any hunter education certificate issued in any other state?
Yes, as long as it is an equivalent, state issued certificate.

Hunting Safety and Violations

What are the most common causes of hunting related shooting incidents in Connecticut?
The most common causes of hunting related incidents in Connecticut and elsewhere are the following:

  • Failure to identify the target.
  • Shooter swinging on game.
  • Careless handling of a firearm.
  • Victim out of sight of the shooter.
  • Fall while climbing into or out of position.
  • Victim moved into the line of fire.
  • Shooter stumbled and fell.
  • Failure to check beyond the target.

Hunting is a safe sport. Help keep it safe by following these fundamental rules for safe gun handling:

  • Always treat every firearm as loaded.
  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep the firearm unloaded until ready to hunt.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot the gun.
  • Always be sure of your target and what lies beyond.

What are some of the most common hunting related violations?
The most common hunting related violations are:

  • Hunting without permission (simple trespass).
  • Hunting before or after hours.
  • Hunting without a license.

What should I do when I see another hunter while out hunting?
You should never assume that another hunter is aware of your presence when you are hunting. As soon as you spot another hunter you should say immediately "hunter present" or something similar; and say it loud enough to get the other hunter's attention.

What should I do when I am approached by an Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Officer or any law enforcement officer when I am hunting with a firearm?
Do the following: (1) keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and your finger off the trigger; and (2) let the law enforcement officer determine what you will do next. Do not attempt to unload the firearm by opening the action or removing the magazine, if so equipped. Let the officer take control of the situation.

Is it legal to use a tree stand on state property?
Yes. The construction of permanent of tree stands involving damage to a tree or shrub is prohibited. The use of portable tree stands is permissible. Hunters who use tree stands should always wear a full-body safety harness or fall arrest system to help prevent injuries. Leaving any personal property unattended is not recommended.

Does the 500 foot rule apply to bowhunting?
No. The safety buffer of 500 feet only applies to hunting with firearms or carrying of a loaded firearm when a reasonable person would conclude that the individual was engaged in hunting.

Does the 500 foot rule apply to use of an air rifle (BB or pellet gun)?
Yes. Air rifles are defined as firearms under state law.

Fluorescent Orange

What are the rules for wearing hunter orange clothing in Connecticut?
With some exceptions, all hunters must wear hunter orange (fluorescent orange) from September 1 through the last day in February.

What is the specific requirement for wearing fluorescent orange when hunting in Connecticut?
When fluorescent orange is required, the hunter must wear an article of clothing that has 400 square inches of fluorescent orange material visible above the waist and visible from all sides. Camouflage fluorescent orange is permitted as long as it satisfies the above requirements. Hunters are encouraged to wear a fluorescent cap as an additional safety measure.

Who is exempt from the fluorescent orange requirement?
Bowhunters are exempt from the 400 square inches of fluorescent orange requirement except during the firearms and muzzleloader deer seasons. In addition, on private lands only in Zones 11 and 12 during shotgun and muzzleloader firearms deer hunting seasons, bowhunters may remove fluorescent clothing while in a treestand at least 10 feet off the ground. Also exempt are: archery and firearms turkey hunters, waterfowl hunters while hunting from boats, duck blinds and other stationary positions, crow hunters while hunting from blinds and other stationary positions, raccoon and opossum hunters when hunting during night time, and landowners while hunting on their own property.

Do I have to wear 400 square inches of fluorescent orange when hunting on my own land?
Landowners while hunting on their own property are exempt. Family members, however, are still required to wear 400 square inches of fluorescent orange when hunting on these properties.

Do I have to wear 400 square inches of fluorescent orange when hunting turkeys?
No. However, turkey hunters are strongly urged to wear fluorescent orange clothing when walking to and from their hunting site and also to place their harvested turkey into a fluorescent orange bag for safe removal from the hunting site. Additionally, turkey hunters who use a ground blind are strongly urged to place a fluorescent orange ribbon atop the blind or on a nearby tree to alert other turkey hunters of their presence.

Target Practice

Where can I go to practice my shooting skills?
The DEEP provides public shooting ranges for firearms target practice at three locations: Glastonbury, High Rock, and Wooster Mountain. The Nye Holman Archery Range provides opportunity for archery shooting practice. These shooting ranges are open for limited hours and may require reservations or a fee. Consult the Hunting & Trapping Guide or the Hunting & Trapping page on the DEEP's website for more information about these ranges. Many private sportsmen's clubs, which are located throughout the state, have private ranges that are available for a fee to members and guests.

Is it legal to conduct target practice on state land?
No. Target practice is only authorized at designated state-owned ranges.

Is it legal to conduct target practice on private property?
Yes. However, the shooter must consult local regulations which may prohibit discharge of firearms within the town's limits. Additionally, the location of the property for target shooting must satisfy concerns for down range safety. Also, if local regulations allow target practice, and the property satisfies concerns for down range safety, noise from gunfire may disturb neighbors. To help prevent alarm and misunderstanding, notify neighbors and also local law enforcement officials when and where the target practice will occur.

Hunters with Disabilities

Does Connecticut offer any special considerations for hunters with disabilities?
A person who has permanently lost the use of a limb may be issued a hunting or trapping license free of charge (permits are not included). 

Verification of disability signed by a licensed physician must be presented. 

Paraplegics may also be eligible to hunt from an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle). 

Some hunting areas are especially suited for hunters with disabilities and have access improvements to accommodate those hunters. They are listed in the field guide and the Public Hunting Areas page on the DEEP's website.

Content last updated on December 9, 2014.