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Over the years so many things have changed, including our hunting seasons.
Back in the late 1940s and early 50s we would be waiting for the third Saturday in October to get out into the fields and forests to do some small game hunting.
Not anymore! With the coming of September, we have already seen the opening day for nuisance (resident) Canada geese and gray squirrel.
Granted, hunting squirrels can be a bit more challenging this early in the year because of the foliage that is still on the trees. Still, it is a chance to hunt, and for those who have not tried them for a tasty meal, you don’t know what you have been missing.
During the 40s, wild game meat that was in season was often served on the Roberts table. Brother Pete and I would often accompany our father, “Big Mike” Roberts, on some of his local hunting excursions. Gray squirrels were right at the top of the small-game list.
Some of Dad’s favorite squirrel hunting areas were the nut and acorn groves that were quite numerous back then in our area. Dad would caution us to be very quiet when we entered the nut groves. We would find a spot up against one of the trees in the forest and simply sit and wait for old Bushy Tail to make an appearance.
Back then, just about all of the hunters in the Village of South Meriden hunted small game, and squirrels were on just about everybody’s list. We usually hunted some of the nut groves on the edges of a couple of the cemeteries in our area (now not possible because of so many building developments). However, there are still many spots where you can hunt squirrels.
Of course, it is a lot different hunting them this early in the year with all of the foliage still hiding their movements in the tree tops, but for the more patient hunter, the reward of some tasty squirrels for a stew or spaghetti sauce is worth the effort.
As we grew older and into our teens, we began to hang out on some of the farms in the Village, helping the farmers take in hay and corn, and this gave us the privilege of being able to hunt on their farms. Three of our favorite farms were the Godek Farm, Philippi Farm and the Raven Farm. Now, the farms have been shut down and the land developed into housing, so much if not all of it is about gone.
The first farm I hunted was the Raven Farm, owned by an old bachelor by the name of Ernie Raven. He was quite a character and maintained a small dairy herd and some chickens. He had a milk route that one of the gang would accompany him on to make deliveries.
There is a private road (Raven Lane) that goes by the old farmhouse and now goes down to the Meriden Rod & Gun Club. The lane was always a great spot to get some squirrels, and because back then it was not a crime for a youngster to travel a local street with a shotgun or .22 rifle for some squirrel hunting, just about all of the Village youths did some small-game hunting of some sort.
In my lifetime, I knew a couple of families who knew how to make a delicious meal out of some freshly harvested wild game, especially squirrels. One was our mother, Jean Roberts, who could make a squirrel and spaghetti sauce that would leave you wanting more.
Another was the Hanlon family — father Lou and kids Neil, Mike, Tom and Paul, who were as good at hunting squirrels as anyone. Even today, Tom can still make some savory meals using squirrels.
And when I married my Darlin’ Edna, I came into contact with her landlady, Sue Macri, who had to be the world’s best squirrel and spaghetti cook. The best part was, all I had to do was to harvest the squirrels and bring them to Sue and she took care of field dressing them and cooking them.
Man, it didn’t get any better than that.
Today, you can hunt gray squirrels from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018 and then renew your license and hunt them from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2019. Squirrels have a bag limit of eight daily and 40 per season.
They say it only takes one bad apple to spoil a barrel of them. The same goes for those of us who love hunting and everything that goes with it. While there are a few who think that hunting is a “right,” they should understand that in these modern times it is a privilege that they can lose in the blink of an eye by the actions of a few bad apples who think they are immune to our outdoor laws and the common sense of good sportsmanship.
Just because a piece of land does not have a NO TRESPESSING sign on it does not mean that you can simply walk in and start to hunt. This means upland game hunting as well as waterfowl hunting. Show respect for the land and water you are allowed to hunt and obtain permission to hunt on private lands.
There is an old saying, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Every hunter should know and obey the laws. Also, avoid conflicts with non-hunters. No one really wins in those kind of conflicts.
Hunters are also reminded that all migratory birds require special migratory stamps to be hunted. This includes woodcock and crows. Woodcock are often flushed while hunting grouse and pheasants.
The taking of crows has changed tremendously over the years. There was a time that you could take them year round and the farmers encouraged it because of the damage they did to many of their crops. Today, they are now considered a migratory bird and have seasons and can only be hunted on certain days.
They are: now through Oct. 13, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; Oct. 20 to Dec. 1, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and Jan. 12, to March 13, 2019, Monday through Saturday.
Legal shooting hours for crows are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. However, on Oct. 20, which is opening day of the upland game season, legal hunting hour starts at 7 a.m.
Does anyone even hunt crows anymore? From what I have seen, they have become as adaptable to humans as the pesky and messy nuisance Canada geese.
It’s time for the annual Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) river and pond cleanup (Sept. 15) and its annual chicken and pork barbecue (Sept. 29).
Those participating in the cleanup should show up at the QRWA headquarters at 540 Oregon Road, South Meriden. The work will take place between 9 a.m. and noon.
Gloves, trash bags and some waders will be provided. There will be refreshments afterward. Rain date is Sept. 22.
The barbecue will take run from 4-6 p.m., also at the QRWA headquarters. A professional smoker will be serving the chicken and pork.
This event can be a sell out! Tickets are $13 for members, $15 for nonmembers and $10 for kids under 12.
This is a BYOB event. To get your tickets early, phone the QRWA at 202-237-2237. Rain date is Oct. 6.
See ya and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.