For as far back as I can remember, the third Saturday in October has always marked the beginning of the upland game season in Connecticut.
This would include hunting for ring-necked pheasants, ruffed grouse, squirrels, woodcock and cottontail rabbits.
Back in the late 1940s and early 50s, finding a place to hunt in and around Meriden was never a problem. In the Village of South Meriden, we had plenty of open spaces to hunt, including the Raven, Philippi and Godek farms, plus acres and acres of other open lands.
We could start to hunt right from our home on Hanover Road and soon be harvesting pheasants, rabbits and squirrels. The only grouse I remember being taken in those early years was one taken by Stan Duda in a wooded patch off of Walnut Grove Cemetery.
Kids and firearms were a common sight in the Village back in those days. We were hunters who took to the woods and fields for meat for our families.
I remember the Metzger family on New Cheshire Road. In back of their home were open fields and the Ice House Pond. (Dee Avenue and Hunter’s Trail exist there now.) It was a wonderful place to hunt for rabbits and pheasants.
Back then, pheasants were quite plentiful in the Village. It was nothing to see a half dozen or more scratching around in the garden in back of our home.
Some of the hunters had bird dogs, a special breed that would hunt out and point the pheasants when they found them. Other hunters used flushing dogs like spaniels and beagles. Many beagles would howl and run both pheasants and rabbits, making them even more valuable.
Back in those days, we did not have much of a choice when it came to what firearm to use for our hunting. It was more than likely a used shotgun, in 12 gauge. And due to the kick they had when fired, we did not shoot them unless we had to.
My first shotgun was a single-barrel 12 gauge that would let you know when you fired it. I took plenty of game with that old shotgun, including squirrels, which were my favorite target.
As we got older we “graduated” to more sophisticated hunting techniques, including firearms and using hunting dogs to help us find the game we wanted.
My first bird dog was a springer spaniel named Chip. How that dog loved to hunt.
He was a “flushing dog” (once on the bird, they would make it fly without pointing it). In the memory book of my mind, I can still picture a brace of gaudy cock pheasants rising skyward before my hunting partners, Mike Hanlon and Jack Sears.
But things change and, as the years have gone by, so has much of the huntable land that we used to roam. Whoever thought that Misery Swamp, one of the prime hunting areas back in those days, would become home to so many corporate businesses? It still has many deer, including that piebald I told you about a couple of weeks ago and we still see on some of our walks.
Much of the huntable upland game lands in Connecticut are “permit required.” That means you must have either a season permit or daily permit to hunt these lands. Members of the various area Rod & Gun clubs are issued season permits and non-members can obtain daily permits. (See Page 37 of your 2018 Connecticut Hunting & Trapping Guide for a list of daily permit vendors.)
A Resident Game Bird Hunting Stamp is required for the hunting of pheasants, wild turkeys, quail, partridge and ruffed grouse. A special stamp to hunt all migratory birds (Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp) is also required. It is needed to hunt waterfowl, woodcock, rail, snipe, and crows.
Here in Connecticut, it appears that much of the hunting efforts have turned to deer hunting, but there is also a lot of state land available for any upland hunter to put some boot prints on.
I know hunters who hunt only state land and they are very successful at it. One only needs to look in the 2018 Connecticut Hunting & Trapping Guide on pages 40-43 to find access to various hunting activities on state lands. These include waterfowl, small game pheasants, fall archery for deer and turkey, spring and fall firearms turkey, muzzleloader deer, deer lottery areas and no-lottery shotgun deer areas.
We have had early squirrel season and some early nuisance goose season along with archery deer and turkey season, and now the rest of the hunting crowd can get into the sport. The traditional upland game season begins the third Saturday in October (Oct. 20).
Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset EXCEPT opening morning, when the season starts at 7 a.m. Don’t confuse the hours with deer hunting, when you have to end your hunting at sunset.
I have heard from a fishing buddy, Marty Loos, that he has been getting some nice rainbow trout out of Black Pond.
Hey, enjoy the fall. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.