Rhode Island Muzzleloader and Shotgun Seasons

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The Department of Environmental Management announces that the regular muzzleloader deer-hunting season for taking either-sex and antlerless deer from both state and private land statewide will take place from November 4 through November 26. Hunters are required to wear a minimum of 200 square inches of fluorescent orange during this portion of the muzzleloader season. Hunters may purchase one permit to take a deer of either sex, and two permits to take antlerless deer. Conanicut/Aquidneck Island hunters may purchase an additional suite of permits for the Island hunts. The permits, which can be purchased at any time, may be used in any order.

The regular shotgun season for taking either-sex and antlerless deer commences Saturday, December 2 and continues through December 10. Hunters can utilize both state and private land during that period. The shotgun season continues from December 11 through December 17 on private land only.

A second combined muzzleloader and shotgun season for taking antlerless deer on private land on the mainland will take place from December 22 through December 31. Hunters must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing. Small game hunting will not be permitted on private land during this extra deer-hunting season.

"We are focusing on providing opportunities to harvest additional antlerless deer — female deer or male deer with antlers less than three inches long — as an effective method to reduce the state's overabundant deer herd," said Michael Lapisky, Acting Chief of DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Deer permits are available at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing at DEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade Street in Providence on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and at selected hunting venders throughout Rhode Island. The cost of each deer permit for residents is $12.50; for non-residents, the cost is $25.50 for each permit.

Deer hunting hours remain one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. All deer taken must be tagged immediately, and checked within 24 hours at either a vendor-operated or state-operated check station, or by an authorized representative of DEM. Muzzleloader hunters are limited to using black powder or approved substitutes. Hunters should check DEM regulations for specific regulations as to where hunting is allowed, and should also check with local authorities for additional hunting restrictions.

For the fifth year, DEM is joining much of the country in conducting a systematic Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance program, and will ask hunters at the state check stations to assist by donating heads of yearlings and adults harvested in state. However, hunters may also participate by contacting DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife's field headquarters at 789-0281 for approval to submit fresh samples labeled with the location of harvest. Hunters are also asked to call DEM's enforcement office at 222-3070 to report any sick or emaciated deer, or any deer displaying abnormal behavior.

DEM reminds hunters that they can donate their surplus game, properly processed, packaged, and refrigerated, to a number of local food kitchens through the Hunters and Fishermen for the Hungry program, coordinated by the Division of Fish and Wildlife in cooperation with the Rhode Island Food Bank.

The Division maintains a list of locations, updated regularly, where fish and game may be donated, and has also prepared a booklet with guidelines on handling game and fish for donations, as well as a collection of game and fish recipes for the food kitchens. All of this information is available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Topics", then "Wildlife/HunterEd", under "Outdoor Recreation/Fisheries". An information packet is also available by calling the Division at 789-0281.