Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report

January 17, 2001




By: Paul Frisman, Research Analyst

You asked for a summary of the deer hunting laws with regard to bow hunting. You asked when the deer season begins and ends, and whether Sunday hunting is allowed. You also asked about deer hunting laws in general.


Hunters must possess a state hunting license (CGS 26-27) and obtain a deer hunting permit (CGS 26-86c) before hunting deer with either bows or firearms.

The opening and closing dates of the hunting season depend on the weapon used and where the hunt takes place. This year, the deer bowhunting season on most state land runs from September 15 to November 13, and again from December 19 to December 31. Bowhunting on state-owned land where other forms of hunting are prohibited begins September 15 and ends December 31.

Bowhunting on private lands in southwestern Connecticut and along the shoreline (Zones 11 and 12 on attached map) runs from September 15 to December 31. Bowhunting on private lands in the rest of the state runs from September 15 to November 13, and again from December 5 to December 31.

Bowhunters are allowed to kill four deer a year. To encourage the harvesting of female deer, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requires that while two of the four deer may be of either sex, two others must be “antlerless,” that is, either does or very young bucks without visible antlers. On private lands in zones with an excessive number of deer, bowhunters who bring an antlerless deer to a check station may be eligible for a replacement tag, allowing them to take another antlerless deer.

As with bowhunting, the opening and closing dates of the firearms hunting season depend on the type of weapon used, such as shotgun, rifle, or muzzleloading rifle; whether the hunt takes place on state or private land; and whether the hunter owns the land on which he is hunting. DEP awards a limited number of deer permits for shotgun hunters by lottery. DEP specifies the types of permits required for each type of hunt, the type of firearms that may be used, the type of deer that may be taken, and other conditions for each hunt on its web site at

Connecticut does not permit any hunting on Sunday (CGS 26-73).


Who May Hunt

CGS 26-27 generally requires that a person have a license to hunt off his own property. Applicants who have not held a resident hunting license from Connecticut or another state in the previous five years must complete a Conservation Education/Firearms Safety course and obtain a certificate (CGS 26-31). Hunting licenses are $10 for residents and $42 for non-residents.

No one may hunt deer without a valid small game and deer archery permit. Permits are $22 for residents and active full-time members of the armed forces and $44 for non-residents. Effective Jan. 1, 2002, all bowhunters must show proof, when purchasing a deer archery permit, that they have completed a Conservation Education/Firearms Safety bowhunting course or its equivalent from another state or country (CGS 26-86c).

A person must be 12 years or older to hunt. Children 12 to 16 may obtain a junior archery license for $13 (CGS 26-86c). They must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years old or older while hunting, and the adult hunter may not supervise more than two minors at one time (CGS 26-38). Minors are entitled to their own bag limits.

It is illegal to take a deer without a permit. First offenders may be fined between $200 and $500 and imprisoned between 30 days and six months. Subsequent offenses are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to one year (CGS 26-86a(b)).

Legal Bows

Bow hunters may use long, recurved, or compound bows capable of propelling a hunting type arrow of not less than 400 grains 150 yards free flight on level ground. An arrowhead must have at least two blades and must be at least 7/8 inches wide. Arrowheads that are designed to open on impact are legal as long as they meet the above requirement. State law allows mechanical string release devices, but prohibits the use of arrows coated with any drug, poison or tranquilizing substance (CGS 26-86a).

DEP prohibits hunting with crossbows unless the hunter has a physical disability that prevents him from using a long, recurved, or compound bow. Hunters applying for a crossbow permit must present proof they have completed the required safety course, and must personally appear before the DEP with certification from a licensed physician. (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-66-1(b)). Application deadlines are February 15 and August 15.

Hunting Hours and Other Conditions

Bowhunting is permitted from one half hour before sunrise until sunset. (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-86a-6(a)). Bowhunters must wear 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing when hunting during the firearms hunting season. Decoys may be used during the early and late archery deer seasons, but must be covered with 400 square inches of fluorescent orange during transport. Decoys may not be used between November 14 and December 18.

Bowhunters, who may not possess a firearm while bowhunting (CGS 26-86a), must tag a deer immediately upon a kill and submit an “Archery Season Kill report card” to DEP within 24 hours of the kill. Archery-killed deer need only be taken to a check station if they are killed between November 14 and December 18.

If hunting on private land, bow hunters must carry the signed, written consent of the landowner (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-86a-5). Consent forms are available on DEP's web site at

Certain state lands are designated as bowhunting-only areas. The season there runs September 15 to December 31 (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-86a-6(b)). These are listed on the DEP web site at .


General Restrictions

State hunting laws and regulations may be found on DEP's web site at The use of firearms is subject to many general restrictions. For example, hunters may not hunt with, shoot or carry a loaded firearm within 500 feet of any building occupied by people or domestic animals (Conn. Agencies Reg. 26-66-1(d)), and may not carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle (CGS 53-205).

A person is guilty of third-degree negligent hunting if, among other things, he hunts out of season or on a Sunday, hunts while his license is suspended, or discharges a firearm from a vehicle (CGS 53a-217e). A person convicted of third-degree negligent hunting shall be fined not less than $200.

Firearms Deer Hunting Permits are $10 for residents and $30 for non-residents.

Deer Hunt Lottery

Each year DEP awards a limited number of permits by lottery for shotgun deer hunting on state lands and six privately-owned controlled hunt areas. Applications, available from town clerks and some DEP field offices, must be mailed after January 1 and postmarked by March 15. Applicants will receive results by June 30. Successful applicants must return their selection notice and fee to DEP by the date indicated on the notice, or forfeit their lottery permit. Deer Lottery Hunting Areas and Controlled Hunt areas are listed at DEP's web site at

In addition to a copy of the DEP regulations, we have attached a map of the DEP deer management zones and OLR Reports 96-R-1473 and 2000-R-0973, which may be of interest.