PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds all Rhode Islanders that, for safety reasons, they must wear solid, daylight fluorescent orange when in State management areas and undeveloped State parks during the shotgun deer hunting season, which opens on Saturday, Dec. 7.
All hunters, including archers, are required to wear 500 square inches of solid, daylight fluorescent orange clothing during the shotgun season. Waterfowl hunters hunting from a boat or blind, over water or field, and when done in conjunction with decoys are exempt from the orange requirements. Archers are exempt from wearing orange in areas of the state that are limited to hunting by archery-only.
Throughout all shotgun deer seasons, all other users of State management areas and designated undeveloped State parks also must wear at least 500 square inches of solid, daylight fluorescent orange material. For all hunters and management area users, the orange clothing should include a hat and vest worn above the waist and visible in all directions. An orange vest that’s 20 inches long by 25 inches wide has 500 square inches of surface area.
The shotgun season for deer in Zone 1 runs from Saturday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 22. The shotgun season for deer in Zone 2 is from Saturday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 15. From Thursday, Dec. 26, through Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, hunters may hunt only on private lands for antlerless deer in Zones 1 and 2. The statewide bag limit is two antlered deer, and no more than one antlered deer can be harvested in Zone 3. The bag limit for antlerless deer is three in Zone 1, and two antlerless deer in Zone 2 and Zone 3.
The season for shotgun deer hunting in Zone 4 (Block Island) will be open on select weekdays through Feb. 21, 2020, as published in the state’s 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Abstract. Hunters should call the New Shoreham Police Department at 401-466-3220 for check station information. There is an unlimited bag limit for antlerless deer on Block Island. Deer hunting hours are the same this year as in prior years: one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. For more information on seasons, bag limits, zones, and regulations, review the 2019-20 hunting abstract.
All deer hunters are required to obtain written permission annually for all deer hunting on private lands. DEM has developed a courtesy card, available on the DEM website, for hunters and landowners to sign that gives the dates for permissions and contains A Hunter’s Pledge regarding principles of conduct. DEM encourages private landowners to allow hunters to hunt deer on their property, where feasible, during deer hunting seasons as this is a sound management technique that benefits deer habitats and regulates population growth.
Hunters are required to report their deer harvest online at www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish within 24 hours of harvest. Deer must be tagged in the field, with a valid deer tag for the appropriate season, immediately upon taking. Those who do not have internet service or cellular data access may call DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife at 401-789-0281 between 8:30 AM and 4 PM Monday-Friday to report their harvest.
Hunter education is offered as part of DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Hunter Education Program. Safety training is required by law in Rhode Island for beginning hunters. To date, more than 40,000 people have completed a hunter safety course in Rhode Island, helping to reduce related accidents in the state and elsewhere. A complete schedule of hunter educational offerings is available here.
DEM is joining much of the country in conducting a systematic Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance program. The RI deer herd has been tested for CWD annually since 2002 and no evidence of the disease has ever been found. The disease is fatal to all deer and members of the deer family, including moose and elk; however, infected deer may show no outward signs of being sick until the later stages of infection. Hunters are asked to call DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement at 401-222-3070 if they observe any sick or emaciated deer, or any deer displaying abnormal behavior.
Deer hunting has a long tradition in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state. Hunters and anglers purchase around 70,000 licenses, permits, stamps, and tags each year and contribute more than $235 million to Rhode Island’s economy. Revenue generated from license and permit sales support Rhode Island fish and wildlife conservation programs. A critical source of funding, these monies are leveraged to match federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program dollars that support outdoor recreational opportunities for fishing, hunting, and boating in Rhode Island.
To purchase a hunting license, or for more Information about Rhode Island’s hunting and fishing licensing system, visit www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish. The site also acts as a portal to help plan adventures that make the most of Rhode Island’s great outdoors. It links to information on hunting and fishing opportunities, trails, and natural areas through a variety of maps, as well as certification information for hunter safety and boating safety.