WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A rise in numbers, a rise in skill

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A rise in numbers, a rise in skill


This past Wednesday saw the opening of another wild turkey hunting season in Connecticut. My, how things have changed.

In 1975, 22 wild turkeys captured in New York state were released in Canaan, Connecticut. They would be the foundation of an unbelievable resurgence of wild turkeys here in our state.

By 1977-78, the Canaan flock had already increased in size and nine were captured and relocated to Barkhamsted. For many years afterward, as the wild turkey flock continued to increase, more were captured and released in various areas across the state.

Today, flocks of wild turkeys can be seen just about anywhere, including within the city limits of Meriden.

The first wild turkey hunting season started in a very cautionary fashion because I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams would expect to see the number of wild turkeys that call Connecticut home today.

I remember the first season well because I was picked in the lottery that was then held to hunt Skiff Mountain in Sharon. 

I had gone to a couple of the turkey hunting seminars prior to the hunt, but was as green as new grass when it came to actually hunting wild turkey. I learned by trial and error and, believe me, there were a lot of errors in my early turkey hunting days.

I also hunted Yale Forest in those early years, and while I did have male turkeys answer my attempt at imitating a wild hen turkey using a push-button turkey call, I never did get a chance to put a tag on one.

In fact, I took my very first wild turkey during a Connecticut fall bowhunting season while hunting deer. I also had a bow permit for turkey and was one of only a couple of bowhunters to be lucky enough to put a tag on a turkey that year.

Like I said, it was luck. I was in my treestand over in Colchester hunting deer when a small flock of turkeys came into my archery range and I took a nice Tom (male turkey).

While I hunted them diligently every turkey season, both spring and fall, it was a couple of years before a spring Tom turkey would fall to my efforts on calling one in shotgun season.

It happened in New York state when Edna and I owned a parcel of land there. It was a cold, blustery morning with a lot of wind, so my hopes were not too high on getting a turkey that morning.

I went up to the top of a hill on our land and then started to walk diagonally down and across the land, stopping every once in a while to call and listen, although the howling wind made it very difficult.

I was almost to the end of my walk when my hen call was answered by a bevy of excited gobbles from some male turkeys just below me over a small rise in the land.

Now, in turkey hunting, you are supposed to sit with your back to a large tree to conceal your outline. There were only small saplings where I was, so I simply sat down on the open ground and hoped for the best.

It did not take too long before three Toms came into view with nothing but loving on their mind. The next minute there were only two scurrying away and probably wondering what the heck just happened. My darlin’ Edna and I had our very first wild turkey for Thanksgiving in New York and it was delicious beyond belief.

As the years went on, many more wild turkeys would end up in the Roberts freezer as my luck and a bit of skill improved each year.

Here in Connecticut, during the first years of hunting spring turkey you were only allowed a bearded (male) turkey during the spring season. As the flock increased statewide, it was increased to two on private land and remained one on state land.

Next, it was three bearded birds in the spring hunt. Numbers have increased to the point that you are now allowed to put a tag on five male turkeys during the spring hunt, either on private land or state land or a combination of both.

At first, turkey hunters were limited to hunting from early morning until noon. Now they can hunt from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. Turkey hunting in Connecticut has come a long way.

Along with a firearms hunting license, you also have to have a CT Resident Game Bird Conservation Stamp to hunt wild turkey here in Connecticut. I’ll have more on hunting turkey next week.

Fishing derby

Mark your calendars for next Saturday, May 8 for the Annual City of Meriden, Meriden Rod & Gun Club, Carl D’Addario Children’s Fishing Derby at Mirror Lake in Hubbard park.

The derby will run from 10 a.m. to noon. Signups starts at 9 a.m. and the DEEP Inland Fisheries will have a trout stocking truck on hand at 8:30 a.m., so kids and parents will get a chance to stock trout prior to the derby.

I suggest parents get the kids there early enough to take part in the trout stocking. There will be prizes in the different age groups.

To be on the safe side, masks will be required and there will be social distancing except among family members. Also, there will be no hot dogs, but there will be a bag of snacks and a soft drink for participants.

The derby is for kids ages 15 and under. Adults have to wait until the derby ends at noon to fish Mirror Lake that morning. Remember, May 8 is free fishing day here in Connecticut and no license is required to fish that day.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving in this great country of ours.

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