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How does that saying go? “It ain’t over, till it’s over.” Well, that goes for the hunting seasons here in Connecticut as well.
Those hunting with muzzleloaders on private lands still have until Dec. 31 to try and put a tag on a whitetailed deer.
The state land muzzleloader season ended Dec. 24, but state land is now open to archery hunting unitl Dec. 31.
However, if you have private land permission in zones 11 and 12, you can still archery hunt Jan. 1-31. You must have a 2020 hunting license and deer permits to hunt in these zones in January.
These zones have been open to January archery hunting for a number of years now because of an overpopulation of deer. Over the years. some hunting buddies and I have had the use of a small piece of private land in Wilton, and if you were to take a look at it you would almost laugh and say, “There could never be any deer in there.” How wrong you would be.
The land is more of a swamp, bordered by some homes that are built around it, and I always said it looked like it was more suited for alligators than deer. We would park in the landowner’s driveway and, in a couple of minutes, I would be in my treestand.
While in my treestand, I could see my vehicle parked in the driveway. This didn’t seem to fit in with the type of deer hunting I was used to.
The owner of the property said deer were eating all of their ornamental plants and bushes. She wanted them taken care of.
On my first trip to this parcel of swamp I was somewhat doubtful of what the results were going to be. I went there by myself the first time I hunted it. The morning was overcast and sort of foggy as I made my way to my treestand. It was still dark when I was ready to hunt and my anticipation grew as the morning light got a bit brighter.
After the first hour of hunting without seeing even a bird, I figured that this was maybe a bad idea. But I was hunting and decided to stick it out, just in case.
I was in my treestand about 2½ hours and was just about ready to call it a day when I caught some movement in the swamp. It was a deer!
No! It was a bunch of deer! My heart began to pump a bit as I waited to see where they were going.
I counted seven of them moving through the underbrush in the swamp and they were too far off to offer a shot, but they now made me a believer that there were deer here!
That was only the beginning. Before the morning was over, I would see 27 deer by actual count.
As far as I could tell, the deer had no inkling that I was there as they passed through the area, but none of them presented an opportunity for a shot.
From all appearances they all seemed to be does or antlerless deer, but in my book when it comes to meat for the table, deer are deer. You can’t eat the antlers.
Although I did see a few single deer during the morning, most of the time there were four or more when I saw them. I do have to say that they now really had my attention, but I was kicking myself for my stand placement because all of the deer seemed to be just out of range for an archery shot.
I was intently looking at the spot that I saw most of the deer when all of a sudden a pair of antlers appeared over the brush. It was an eight-point buck and it appeared to be moving in my direction!
I had arrow nocked and was ready for it to come into my archery range when a bit of movement off to my right caught my attention. Glancing to my right, I saw another buck, and this one was a real bruiser.
Imagine being in a treestand with two nice bucks in sight and the larger one was so close I was afraid to move.
I decided to go for the larger of the bucks and I tried to twist in the stand so I could get a shot. I am right-handed and the buck was on my right side so it was impossible to get a shot off the way I was sitting.
Big mistake. At the first bit of movement, the huge buck jumped away without making a sound and he took the eight-pointer with him.
I hunted that piece of property for a number of years and, between myself and my hunting buddies, we did pretty good, though I do have to say that some of the deer became educated as to what the treestands were for. More than once, when in my stand over the years, I had a deer that was coming in stop and give me a hard look.
Sometimes, if I froze without making a move, the deer would continue to come into my range, but there were times when they were not buying it and they would go around me as if to tantalize me.
That’s what makes real hunting such a thrill.
It is not the actual killing of your game, but the fact that because you did everything right, you will be feasting on some of the best wild game meat going: whitetailed deer.
Oh, I know there are some animal rightists that try and make non-hunters believe that hunting deer is cruel, but ask them is it crueler to have an overpopulation of deer starve to death because of a lack of habitat or die from disease.
Deer hunting makes for a healthier deer population and also helps to keep deer/vehicle collisions down, and this means something when you consider that nationwide over 200 humans a deer die as a result of a collision with a deer.
And, speaking of that, just about every afternoon a take my Darlin’ Edna and our pup Charlie for a cruise around the outside of Meriden. We travel only about three miles and, last Sunday, we counted 13 deer. I had to stop my car or hit one that was standing right in the road.
Do you have a problem with deer? Call a hunter.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all from Edna, Charlie and your old outdoor writer. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.