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There was a time when just about all hunting began on the third Saturday in October. My how things have changed.
Here we are, near the end of September, and we already have an archery season for deer and turkey that began Sept. 15 and a squirrel season that began on Sept. 1.
The squirrel season will continue to Dec. 30, take a one-day break, then begin again Jan. 1 and run through Feb. 29.
September has also brought with it a resident (a.k.a. Nuisance Goose) season that has a bag limit of 15 geese per day, with a 45-goose possession limit. This portion of the goose season will end on Sept. 30.
Very few hunters I know hunt the gray squirrels anymore, at least during the early September season when the trees are still carrying a lot of foliage. As a youngster growing up in the Village of South Meriden, squirrel hunting was number one on my list of huntable game.
Of course, back then the hunting season did not begin until the third Saturday in October for just about all game. For us youngsters, the gray squirrel was our number one prey. This was right after the war years and many families back then relied on wild game to put food on the table.
Along with gray squirrels, we hunted cottontail rabbits, pheasants, grouse, waterfowl and woodcock. Many of our holiday meals consisted of game harvested in the South Meriden and Meriden areas.
All of this was made available to area sportsmen with the purchase of a hunting license that went for about five dollars. If you hunted waterfowl — back then it was mostly ducks — you had to purchase a federal “duck stamp” that cost a couple of bucks.
As I said earlier, my how things have changed. An adult firearms hunting license is $19. It’s $10 for youth for ages 16 and 17, $11 for juniors ages 12-15. Archery and small game is $41 adult, $21 youth and $10 junior.
Then, if you are hunting game birds as well as migratory game birds, you have to have a Connecticut migratory bird conservation stamp, plus a federal waterfowl stamp. (The HIP is included with your purchase of the Connecticut stamp.)
An interesting note: the crow is listed as a migratory bird. There was time, especially when much of the area was farmland, that the crow was considered a nuisance and was fair game on a year-round basis. You would almost never see crows in the city limits like you do now.
From what I have heard over the years, how crows came about to be regulated as a migratory bird was a political decision. Regardless, they are now considered a migratory bird even though they are here year round and raise havoc with song bird nests. I have seen crows take baby song birds right out of a nest and fly away with them.
Hunting crows is now regulated, and if you like you can hunt them from a half hour before sunrise, including opening day Oct. 17, to a half hour after sunset. It’s a new regulation.
All of this is available in the 2020 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide, but many hunters choose to ignore reading it. That’s a darn shame because the guide is chock full of information that could enhance their hunting endeavors.
The crow hunting even comes with season dates, such as Aug. 5 to Oct. 9 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and then Oct. 17 to Nov. 30, again only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. But from Jan. 9 to March 31, 2021, you can hunt crows Monday through Saturday.
There is no bag limit on crows during any of their hunting periods.
If you have all the right licenses and permits, hunting is a good way to practice the social distancing that the coronavirus has brought into our lives. Even if you are with a companion, while hunting small game you are usually more than the recommended six feet apart.
Hunting is not a sport that you can just decide to do. You must take a hunter safety course to get a hunting license and then, of course, you need to have the right permits and stamps for whatever game you want to hunt.
Oh, and did I mention that the fall season for wild turkey starts next week and will run Oct. 3-31? Along with a firearms hunting license, you must also have the Connecticut Resident Game Bird Conservation Stamp.
On state land you may take one turkey of either sex. On private land you may put your tags on two birds of either sex. However, if you are on private land, you must also have a signed consent form by the landowner. These can be found in the 2020 Connecticut Hunting & Trapping Guide on page 46.
For those who have grown weary of the restrictions placed on everyone this year, a day of small game hunting can be a small reprieve.
Hunters should also be mindful that this year there are a great many more hikers going to the woods for a change of scenery. We all should be wearing fluorescent orange while in the woods. Safety while in the woods is everyone’s responsibility.
Our neighbor, Dave Wetmore, gave us a call to tell us about a small flock of wild turkey hens and their young strutting around our Dogwood Lane home.
They also made an appearance in our front yard while my darlin’ Edna and another neighbor, Jim Williams, were having a chat. We also spied a couple more deer on one of our afternoon rides.
Maybe the wildlife is going to take over our city. Seen any wildlife lately? NO! I don’t mean the overpopulation of Canada geese at Hubbard Park!
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be.