Back in 1958, I was a young man, married and absolutely in love with the great outdoors, especially hunting and fishing.
So I found it interesting to come across a “State Of Connecticut, State Board of Fisheries and Game 1958 Abstract of Laws and Regulations Governing Hunting, Trapping and Sport Fishing.”
It’s a rather small booklet (pocket size) and lists the names of Governor Abraham Ribicoff and Lyle Thorpe as Director, along with David C. Mahoney, Chairman; Rudy Frank, Vice Chairman and board members John S. Purtill, George Fiswell and Patrick J. Ward.
I can remember hearing the names Lyle Thorpe and Rudy Frank coming up at our Meriden Rod & Gun Club meetings by fellow member Lee Harris, who was our elected member to the Fish & Game Legislative Committee.
Recognize any of the names? If you do, you are truly an “Old Timer.”
It is interesting to note that the outdoor world as we know it was much simpler back then and some of our natural resources, like the whitetailed deer, were less numerous than they are today.
The booklet even listed the county-by-county district supervisors, Fish and Game biologists and game wardens, including individual phone numbers so you could contact them.
I can still remember the names of our area wardens, Fred Pogmore and Bob White. White lived in Durham and Pogmore in Farmington. In fact, I used to stock pheasants for the Meriden Rod & Gun Club with Fred Pogmore and we became close friends for many years after.
As might be expected, licenses were priced differently. A hunting license was $4.35, fishing $4.35 (3-day fishing $1.35, issued only during periods July 1 to December 31 and was good for three consecutive days). Trapping for age 16 and over was $3.35 (resident only), under age 16 (also resident only) $1.35.
A combination hunting and fishing license was $6.35, as was a combination hunting and trapping license. A combination hunting, trapping and fishing license was $8.35.
A non-resident paid $11.35 for a hunting license, $6.35 for a fishing license ($1.85 3-Day) and $15.35 for a combination of the two.
There were also special licenses, such $5.35 to hunt deer with a bow and arrow, free fishing licenses for a blind person and $1.35 for persons over 65. The latter was for an annual license. A permanent license for over 65 was $5.35.
Also, any active member of the Armed Forces, regardless of what state they were from, could purchase a license at resident prices.
Regarding hunting deer with bow and arrow on state land, the season was from the first Saturday in December to the second Saturday in December. On private land used for agricultural purposes, the deer season was from December 1 to January 31, and the deer could be taken by long bow or shotgun.
For upland game, the seasons for pheasant, chukar partridge, ruffed grouse and gray squirrel all started October 25 and ended November 29. Cottontail rabbit began October 25, but ended January 10, 1959. Snowshoe hare (varying hare) was from December 6 to January 3. 1959.
Raccoon? October 25 to January 3, 1949. There was no open season on quail, wild turkey and Hungarian partridge, and no open season on beaver, mink, muskrat, otter, skunk and moose except by trapping.
For the trappers, the open season began November 1 and ended March 15, 1959. There was no bag or season limit for furbearers taken by trapping.
As for fishing, I found it interesting that the Quinnipiac River had no closed season from the first bridge below Hanover Dam. (That would be the Main Street Bridge in South Meriden.)
So, back in 1958, I could go hunting, trapping and fishing for a combined license total of $8.35, plus $5.35 to hunt deer with bow and arrow on state land, for a grand total of $13.70.
Of course, you have to take into consideration that wages were much less than they are today, as were everyday expenses such as gas to run the stocking trucks and everything else that goes along with it. But even then there were “sports” who thought they were being over-charged for their hunting and fishing.
Even shad fishing was different back in the ’50s. The hot area was Enfield Dam. It was open to the public through the courtesy of the Windsor Locks Canal Company. Hours were 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a daily creel limit of six. Daily permits were required, issued by patrolmen for a cent fee per licensed angler.
Today, things are VERY much on a different scale. Prices of everything in our great outdoors have gone up. I still can’t get over the fact that some folks pay as high as $500 for a fly-fishing reel. Also, if you use the catalogs supplied by most of the larger outdoor supplies, you absolutely need camo boots and waders if you want to fit into the new outdoor world.
This is all well and good, but what I am more amazed at is that so many outdoor users while think nothing of putting up big bucks for their outdoor equipment. They still think that all of these privileges should be free or at 1958 prices.
This includes licenses, permits and stamps. While I know that there are nonbelievers, if we did not have to pay for all of the things we enjoy in pursuit of hunting, trapping and fishing with special licenses, permits and stamps, our outdoor world would be in tatters. If you believe otherwise, I’ve got a bridge down in Brooklyn I can sell you really cheap.
Today, a Connecticut resident pays $28 for an inland waters-only license, $10 marine waters-only or $32 for all waters. So for the fishermen, it is a total of $37 for all-water fishing.
Oh, and I almost forgot, $5 for a trout and salmon stamp that is so important for maintaining the fish hatcheries that supply the trout and salmon.
What I am trying to show, folks, is that things ain’t the way they used to be and never will be that way again! And, yes, these funds are dedicated, although there are legislators who would like to see it otherwise.
Hunters also pay their share of the costs. A firearms hunting license is $19, a combo hunting and all-water fishing is $40, archery deer and small game $41, game bird conservation stamp $28. And for waterfowlers: $17 For a Connecticut migratory bird conservation stamp (includes HIP permit) plus a $15 federal stamp). Trappers pay $34 ($17 for 16-17 year-old residents).
So hunters who want to cover everything have to pay out a total of $120, and that does not include a fishing license. From where I sit, it costs that much and more to attend a big-league sports game.
Personally, I thank the DEEP Fisheries and Wildlife Divisions for the excellent job they are doing with the limited resources they have to work with. You can’t and never will please everybody.
The New Haven Raccoon Club on Route 17 in Durham will hold a St. Jude Trap Shoot on Sunday, June 2 and a St. Jude Archery 3-D Shoot on Sunday, June 10. The public is invited.