Connecticut

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Image: ImageBy_Tony_Campbell_CT

Check out the latest info for Connecticut. Image by Tony Campbell

Season Dates (2024):

Hunting season dates vary greatly by location. Please check the CONNECTICUT DNR WEBSITE to confirm deer season dates.

The Grade: C

Harvests haven’t been great the past few years, but biologists attribute most of that to warm weather and heavy mast crops, which have kept deer from moving much while hunters were in the woods.

“Overall, [it’s] relatively stable across the state, with some zones decreasing due to our efforts to reduce the population and increasing in others due to restrictions on tag issuance,” said Andrew LaBonte, wildlife biologist for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “We expect a similar harvest as we have had over the past 10 years. Nothing would indicate otherwise. Typical fluctuations occur based on acorns available, and weather and snow conditions.”

Although Connecticut’s deer population had been on the upswing in recent years, there was a drop of about 20,000 several years ago. Hopefully, several mild winters have helped bump that number back up. In an effort to increase deer numbers, a large portion of Connecticut was designated as buck-only a few years ago, so check your guide to make sure antlerless deer are allowed in your area this season.

But though winters have been mild, the state has dealt with disease in recent years.

“Last year hemorrhagic disease was documented in four different zones (1, 2, 10, and 12) across the state and seemed to be most prevalent in northwestern Connecticut, which also mildly impacted harvest numbers in that area,” LaBonte said. “So far, weather conditions have been much different than last year, so hopefully HD will have a minimal presence and impact in the state this year. Acorn availability and weather conditions during the hunting season will determine how the season goes.”

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All said, Connecticut maintains a C grade again this season.

Antler Nation Knowledge:

The state has only eight counties, but there are clear winners. For top-end bucks, the best deer hunting is in the westernmost part of the state. Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, and New Haven are the dominant areas. Middlesex County, in the center of the state, turned out back-to-back Booners in 2010 and 2011.

And did you know how many deer you can kill here?

“Hunters can obtain multiple deer permits (archery, private land firearms, private land muzzleloader, state land shotgun, state land muzzleloader), allowing them to take upward of 10 deer in most zones, or even more in others,” LaBonte said. “Also, hunters may get written permission from the landowner to waive the 500-foot firearms discharge ordinance if they feel comfortable doing so (the landowner and hunter).”

It isn’t a big state, but there are plenty of areas to chase public-land whitetails. Use the CONNECTICUT HUNTING AREAS MAP to find likely hotspots. Archery deer hunters are allowed to hunt in Connecticut on Sundays, provided they are at least 40 yards away from any blazed public hiking trails.

“The agency continues to try to open up more state land areas to hunting, which are always very popular,” LaBonte said. “However, urban bowhunters in deer management zones 11 and 12 continue to capitalize on liberal seasons with replacement antlerless and earn-a-buck tags available, and the use of bait. These same urban areas can also harbor some trophy bucks since many of these areas provide refuge from hunters who may not feel comfortable hunting in close proximity to residential areas and the limited hunting access.”

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