WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Get your permit, gather your blaze orange, shotgun season opens Wednesday

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Get your permit, gather your blaze orange, shotgun season opens Wednesday


There is more to deer hunting than just going out and purchasing a license and tag.

Oh, there are some who seem to always get their deer with little or no effort, but for most of us it takes time and effort to finally put a tag on a deer.

Of course, things are a lot different now with electronics taking over the sport. There was a time when a deer hunter would spend a great deal of time in the woods scouting for deer sign and making plans for the coming season.

Remote cameras have now taken the hunting world by storm. Deer hunters place a camera in the area they want to hunt and the camera tells them if deer are in the area.

Many deer hunters want buck deer — especially BIG bucks with heavy antlers. There is nothing wrong with this, but to properly manage a deer herd, does must also be harvested.

Here in Connecticut, this has been a concern. Back in the 1970s, when Connecticut held its first firearms season, it was the muzzleloaders (black powder) that were given the first crack at tagging a whitetail. (Regarding the use of a black powder firearm, the restrictions were many and the firearm had to replicate an antique black powder firearm.)

The hunt went off without incident, but it became obvious that many of black powder hunters were being “buck selective.” They were passing up tagging a doe in the hopes of tagging a buck.

This did not sit well with those in charge of deer hunting in Connecticut. The whole idea of a state hunt was to harvest does to help keep the herd in check.

This brought about shotgun hunters on state lands and the rifle/shotgun hunters on private lands getting the first firearms hunting in Connecticut.

So far, it has worked pretty well and, as the years progressed, some changes were made in the lottery system for getting a deer hunting opportunity on state land.

As I ride around our area now, it seems hard to imagine many of the areas not having any deer at all. There are spots right here in Meriden and surrounding towns where I have seen multiple deer in the fields just before dusk.

Granted, many landowners do not allow deer hunting on their property, but many times this mindset changes after the deer have destroyed crops and ornamental plantings.

Years ago, I was quite friendly with a farmer up in the northwestern part of the state and, at that time, this was a hot area to get a deer tag. I was riding by the farm one morning in one of my deer-scouting rides and spotted a young farmer in his barnyard.

I stopped and introduced myself and inquired about getting deer hunting permission from him. He said it was his father who would have to make the decision, but it was all right with him.

I was invited into the farmhouse for coffee and met the father. He politely told me there would be no deer hunting permits on the property.

We remained friends and, just about anytime I was in the area, I would stop and have coffee with the family. But still no deer permit.

And then one morning I stopped and the father was as mad as anyone I have ever seen. Deer had laid waste to some of his prized vegetable garden.

“Get my wife to sign your permission slip,” he said. “I’ve had it with these deer!”

This was not the only time I have witnessed such a scenario over the years.

Of course, much of the private lands now have deer hunters, so this limits the chance for getting a private land permit.

However, there are still some great pieces of state land to hunt. All you have to do is check out your 2021 CT Hunting & Trapping Guide to find a spot.

It might help if you get a map of huntable Connecticut state lands. But the CT Hunting & Trapping Guide lets you know the acreage of the land and what type of hunting is available. Some of them no longer require a lottery permit, but you do need to have the proper state land hunting permit.

I also know a number of Connecticut deer hunters who hunt state lands and have been quite successful in their quest to put venison in the freezer.

In my early deer hunting years I did most of my hunting on state lands, and while I was not all that successful, it was not because I did not see any deer. I was a beginner back then and had a lot to learn.

One of the first things I learned was to get back into the woods on some of the larger state lands. Forget about the guy who just got out of his vehicle and was able to tag a deer.

Back then, I loved to hunt the unknown territories and would spend many days making tracks in them. Yes, I saw deer just about every time I was out, but for me “seeing and getting” were two different things.

Here in Connecticut, we have way too many deer and this is why we now have a hunting season for them. The 2021 season with a firearm begins next Wednesday, Nov 17.

On state land, you may take one deer of either sex with the proper permits. On private land, you may take two antlerless deer, either sex, or one antlered deer and one antlerless deer.

And don’t forget to wear your blaze orange.

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

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