The Department of Environmental Management reminds all Rhode Islanders that, for safety reasons, they must wear fluorescent orange when in state management areas during the shotgun deer hunting season, which opens on Saturday, December 3.
Hunters are required to wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange during the shotgun season. Throughout all shotgun deer seasons, all other users of state management areas 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. Archers are exempt from wearing hunter orange in areas of the state that are limited to hunting by archery-only. Deer hunting hours remain one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
The shotgun season for deer on the mainland on state land management areas runs from Saturday, December 3 through Sunday, December 11 and from Monday, December 26 through Sunday, January 1. From Saturday, December 3 through Sunday, December 18 and from Monday, December 26 through Sunday, January 1, shotgun season is open on private lands in Zone 1 and Zone 2. The bag limit on state lands and on private lands in Zone 2 is one either-sex and one antlerless deer; the bag limit on private lands in Zone 1 is one either-sex and two antlerless deer.
The season for shotgun deer hunting on Block Island will be open on select weekdays through February 29th, as published in the state's 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Abstract . Hunters should call the New Shoreham Police Department at 466-3220 for check station information. On Block Island only private land will be open, but hunters may take an unlimited number of deer, and may purchase up to five permits at a time.
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.
New Postage-Paid Report Cards Being Used to Document Harvested Deer
New requirements for checking harvested deer are in effect this year. Hunters are now required to report their animals with 24 hours of harvest by using a simple, postage-paid kill report card supplied by DEM. The report cards replace the need for hunters to check deer and turkey at vendor check stations during most of the deer and turkey hunting seasons. Deer must be tagged in the field, with a valid deer tag for the appropriate season, immediately upon taking. Kill report cards are available at all hunting license vendors and DEM offices.
Deer management zones 1 and 2 have been established following town boundaries for harvesting deer in accordance with specific management goals. The need to reduce auto strikes and address nuisance deer issues as well as health-related Lyme disease issues are important deer management concerns and integral to maintaining quality hunting. The bag limits for deer are established for hunting within the specific zones. A zone map is available in the 2011-2012 hunting abstract available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov .
Free replacement tags for deer are issued by DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing after a hunter harvests two antlerless deer in Zone 1 and upon the hunter providing evidence of having tagged the antlerless deer. The replacement tag may be used to take an additional deer of either sex, but may not be used to take more than the season limit of antlered deer. To qualify for the replacement tag, hunters should bring two field tags to DEM's Boat Registration and Licensing office to document having harvested two antlerless deer in Zone 1.
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 which gives the dates for permissions, and contains A Hunter's Pledge regarding principles of conduct. The Department 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.
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 vendors 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.
Hunting Boosts Rhode Island Economy
In addition to providing an opportunity for residents and visitors to engage in outdoor recreation, hunting contributes to the economic health of the state. According to the most recent statistics from the US Fish & Wildlife Service's National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (2006), residents and tourists spend $10 million annually in Rhode Island on hunting-related expenditures including food, lodging, transportation, and equipment. The survey also notes that a combined total of $378 million is spent annually in Rhode Island on trip and equipment-related expenditures for fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching activities.
DEM is joining much of the country in conducting a systematic Chronic Wasting Disease  surveillance program, and is asking hunters to assist by donating deer heads of yearlings and adults for tissue sampling. Hunters may participate by contacting the 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 Division of Law Enforcement at 222-3070 to report any sick or emaciated deer, or any deer displaying abnormal behavior.
Hunters 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 DEM's 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/Hunter Ed " under "Outdoor Recreation/Fisheries ". An information packet is also available by calling the Division at 789-0281.