Volume 3 Issue 2 - June 2022

The first official day of summer is upon us! For many hunters, this "lull" in the action simply means more opportunities to sight in your firearms, enhance your archery skills, practice your favorite call, and start thinking about scouting your new (and old) hunting spots. Don't forget to take a look at our upcoming Advanced Hunter Education offerings that will help get you ready for the coming seasons. See you outdoors!
Hunter Calendar:
Small Game:
  • Woodchuck: 3/15/22-11/15/22

  • Crow: 8/13/22-10/07/22 (W, F, Sat.) and 10/15/22-11/30/22 (W, F, Sat.) (see guide for area-specific closing dates)
Migratory Birds: Please refer to the Migratory Bird Hunting Guide.

For complete hunting season dates and regulations, please, see the 2022 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Sign Up for Hunter Safety Classes Before It Is Too Late
Anyone who plans to firearms hunt, bow hunt, or trap this year and has not yet completed the required hunter safety course, now is the time to do so! We are scheduling classes throughout the summer in all disciplines – firearms, bowhunting, and trapping. Classes are scheduled and conducted by our volunteer instructors throughout the state, but we do not guarantee that a specific class type will be held on a specific date or location. Please be advised that you may need to travel to attend a class.  

We encourage students not to wait until the last minute to take their hunter safety course. Classes fill up quickly, and the closer we get to hunting and trapping seasons, the faster they will fill up. Once the season starts, there are fewer class options to choose from. This message is made clear every year, yet we still get a flood of calls and emails a few weeks before hunting season asking for more classes. Part of being a successful hunter is being prepared; completing a hunter safety course is your first step to preparing for the upcoming seasons. 

As a reminder, the Modified Firearms Hunting Field days concluded in April, and the Modified Bowhunting Field Days will conclude at the end of June. Anyone looking to attend a firearms hunter safety course must take either the self-study option or the traditional (multi-day) class. Those looking to take a bowhunter safety course must register for the full bowhunting course. There is no online component to the full bowhunting class. We look forward to seeing you in the classroom and out in the woods.

Upcoming Advanced Hunter Education Offerings
Advanced hunter education has returned to an in-person format. The following offerings are in the works for this fall. 
Waterfowl Hunting Seminar – Sponsored by the Connecticut Waterfowl Association (CWA), this seminar provides the basic information needed to get started or become more successful as a waterfowl hunter. Experienced waterfowl hunters provide information on duck and goose hunting, including biology, decoy spreads, shooting, calling, equipment, and techniques.
Small Game Hunting Seminar – Designed to give hunters an introduction to one of the most overlooked resources available, this clinic will provide hunters with the knowledge and tools to hunt small game in Connecticut. Habitat, tactics, techniques, and game care will be covered.
Venison Processing Seminar – One of our most popular programs will now be held before the deer hunting season starts. From field to freezer, the Venison Processing Seminar will teach participants everything they need to know to break down a white-tailed deer from a whole dressed animal to freezer-ready packaged venison.
Dates and times for the seminars will be announced in August and registration will become available on the Online Hunter Education Registration System about 30 days prior to the event.

2022-2023 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide Available Online
The 2022-2023 Connecticut Migratory Bird Hunting Guide is now available on the DEEP website. The Guide contains season dates and other important information pertaining to upcoming hunting seasons for waterfowl (including Canada geese), woodcock, snipe, rails, and crows. Please note: There are several changes to migratory bird hunting seasons this year.

Congratulations to Sophie Archer, age 18, of Old Lyme, CT, whose painting of an Atlantic brant on a beach coastline was selected as the "Best in Show". Sophie’s artwork will be featured on the 2023 Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation (Duck) Stamp. This is the second year in a row that Sophie received such honors for her artwork. Her painting of a drake wood duck in flight was awarded “Best in Show” for the 2021 contest and is featured on the current 2022 Connecticut Duck Stamp.

Sportsmen in Action
Thanks to the efforts of the Connecticut Conservation Advisory Council (CCAC) and State Senator Craig Miner, there is a line item on the recent budget approval for 5 new Environmental Conservation Police Officers (EnCon) in Connecticut. Although this is fewer new officer positions than they originally hoped to gain through the process, it will begin to give officers an increased presence in our woods, on our waters, and in our parks. This is an excellent example of sportsmen in action working together to benefit fellow sportsmen through conservation and the preservation of our natural resources by keeping our hunting and fishing opportunities safe and legal.
If you know of a Sportsmen in Action story that you would like to see featured in future editions of Hunter Highlights, please email us with the details at deep.huntereducation@ct.gov. Please include your name and contact information with your idea.
Participate in the Annual Turkey Brood Survey
Have you seen turkey poults lately? You can help the DEEP Wildlife Division by participating in the Annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey. All you have to do is record all hens and poults you observe from June 1 through August 31. Observations can be reported to our online database or you can download a data sheet to record all of your observations during the survey time period. The results of this survey are used to estimate the average number of turkey poults per hen statewide and helps to assess annual fluctuations in Connecticut’s turkey population. Observations may be reported online or through paper copy submissions. Photo courtesy of Tommy McCarthy.

Tick Safety While in the Field
Several tick species occur throughout Connecticut, including the blacklegged (deer) tick, lone star tick, and American dog tick. Each of these species can transmit different diseases to humans through their bites. The most well-known is Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia bacteria passed through a prolonged bite from blacklegged ticks. Other diseases, such as Powassan virus and babesiosis, are also transmitted from blacklegged ticks. Tularemia is another potentially serious bacterial infection that can be transmitted through bites of the American dog and lone star ticks. The latter species of tick can also transmit a molecule called Alpha-gal, which can cause an allergic reaction to red meat and other products made from mammals.

The most effective way to avoid getting sick from tick-borne diseases is to prevent tick bites. Follow these tips to reduce your risk while out in the field this season:

  • Treat gear and clothing with approved products containing permethrin.
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellents.
  • Check your clothing and gear when you come inside. Don’t forget to check your pets, too.
  • Check your body for ticks, especially under your arms, in your hair, around your waist, and around your thighs.
  • Remove ticks promptly. The faster you remove them, the lower the probability of most disease transmissions. Treat bite areas with a topical antibiotic.

Seasonal Recipes: Pheasant Cacciatore

  • 2 to 3 pheasants cut into pieces 
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 1 can whole plum tomatoes crushed by hand (remove stems) 
  • 1 onion coarse chopped 
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves 
  • Parsley (fresh chopped fine) 
  • 1/3 to ½ cup of dry white wine 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Sliced fresh mushrooms 
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers chopped coarsely 
  • 1 tsp. oregano 
  • Other vegetables if desired 

Cooking Instructions

Brown pheasant in olive oil and one clove of garlic at a low to medium heat (avoid burning the garlic). Remove oil and add wine, seasonings, and tomatoes. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes and then add all other ingredients. Simmer covered until pheasant is tender. The dish can be served with or without rice or pasta. 

The Importance of Junior Hunter Training Days
For first-time and aspiring hunters, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming! From purchasing the appropriate gear to knowing the required licenses and permits to locating a good hunting spot, there are many perceived barriers that discourage some folks from participating.

Many younger, first-time hunters often look to experienced hunters to help get them started. This is where the importance of Junior Hunter Training Days comes into play.

Each year, Connecticut designates specific days when experienced adult hunters are encouraged to take a youth hunting, helping them learn safe and effective hunting practices, develop observational skills, and gain confidence and a comfort level needed to further their hunting skills.

During the 2022 Spring Turkey Junior Hunter Training Days, first-time hunter Jake Foldeak and his father were accompanied by long-time hunters Tommy and Sal Renzuella. It proved to be a very successful morning that ended with Jake harvesting his first turkey!

At a time when recruiting new hunters is paramount to the continuation of this cherished lifestyle and wildlife conservation in our state, please strongly consider taking advantage of the Junior Hunter Training Days and take a youth out in the field to experience this truly rewarding activity we all cherish!

Habitat and Hunting Area Update
The Barn Island WMA culvert replacement and road maintenance project is nearing completion. The culvert replacement has been completed, and dike roads have been built up, regraded, and the edges reseeded. Repairs to the entrance road and parking lot off Stewart Road will begin shortly. Expect disruption in this area due to the necessary work. Use of Palmer Neck Road and the parking area will not be impeded.

Mulching and mowing operations at Nathan Hale State Forest are complete.

The 24-acre tree removal being conducted at Franklin Swamp WMA has been partially completed. Work will commence again after August 15 and is expected to be completed prior to the start of the majority of hunting seasons.

Portions of the Woodville Block of Wyantenock State Forest remain closed for a 27-acre timber harvest. This closure affects the parking area off Route 341. The spring mud season has led to work delays.

The Pine Mountain Road logging project, off Route 179, in the Hartland Hollow Block of Tunxis State Forest, Barkhamsted, is complete. Wilderness Road, the hunter parking area, and the road system through the gate remain closed in the West Hartland Block of Tunxis State Forest, Hartland. Again, delays due to mud conditions have resulted in the work running late. The job is expected to be completed and the parking area should be available for the fall season.

The first controlled burn took place at Suffield WMA on April 5, 2022. Just under 50 acres were burned, with photos available here thanks to the Journal Inquirer. The 117-acre area has been divided into six burn units that will be treated on a 2-10 year interval to help sustain grasslands on the property.

Details of these projects and further information can be found on the DEEP Habitat Management Page.
From March through June, no additions were made to hunting areas within the state.

Please note: Recently acquired parcels need to be border marked and so indicated as open before hunting can take place. If you have any questions, please contact the district biologist for the area (East: 860-295-9523; West: 860-424-3011).

If you or someone you know is aware of land for sale or donation that would benefit the hunters and trappers of Connecticut, please visit The Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program webpage for more information.
Hunter Profile: Deanna Rackie
Would you like to be our next featured hunter?! If so, please send us a short write-up (less than 500 words) about yourself and a photo to deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov, and you may be featured in our next issue!

My passion for deer hunting was inspired by my father. As a child, my younger brother and I would anxiously await his return from the woods to see what stories, and hopefully deer, he would bring home. In middle school, my brother and I took the hunter safety class so we could join our father in the woods. We started participating only in the rifle season and then joined during the archery season several years later. My brother is a natural outdoorsman, having harvested a deer in one of our first few rifle seasons. My hunting career was off to a much slower start. I spent five rifle seasons waking up before dawn, sitting for hours in the dreary November weather watching countless squirrels before I finally had a deer walk within shooting range. That season my patience finally paid off. I harvested a large doe and a small, 6-point buck on the same morning. I was overjoyed with feelings of thankfulness and validation at finally becoming “a hunter”. 

On several occasions, people have asked me about my hobbies and what I do for fun. I always mention that I like to hunt deer. The overwhelming majority of people are surprised and confused why I, a young woman, choose to participate in this “manly sport”. I think most people associate hunting as an activity for men, which makes me seem like an outlier, according to these normal gender expectations. I try to explain that hunting is more than just a “manly sport” that involves harvesting animals. To quote hunter and rock star, Ted Nugent, I hunt for “fun, sport, meat, and trophy”. I hunt for fun because it allows me to connect to God and nature. Sitting still in the woods allows me to clear my head from the distractions of domestic life and talk to God uninterrupted. Additionally, sitting still allows me to notice aspects of the forest that I normally overlook, such as the foraging behavior of songbirds and the varying vocalizations of chipmunks. I hunt for sport because hunting is a challenge. It tests my patience, sometimes going weeks in cold, damp weather without seeing any deer. It tests my composure and aim, keeping calm under pressure to take the shot. It tests my physical strength to track and drag a deer. I hunt for meat because I value being self-sufficient and not relying on a grocery store. I fully process and cook each deer so I know that there are no added preservatives or chemicals that could have adverse health effects. I hunt for trophy because the “trophy is in the eye of the beholder”. Each harvested deer, small or large, buck or doe, represents my memory and pride in my ability to overcome the challenges to accomplish the hunt. 

From writing this article, I hope I can be an inspiration to others, especially women, to pursue hunting. Never be afraid to break free from the expectations of what hobbies women should have. Hunting is more than just a “manly sport”. It is so much more than that. 
Hunting and fishing equipment purchases and license fees fund hunting and fishing programs and wildlife conservation.

You are making a difference and we thank you for your support!
Quick Links
Need to contact the DEEP Wildlife Division? Send email to deep.wildlife@ct.gov or call 860-424-3011
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to complying with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are seeking a communication aid or service, have limited proficiency in English, wish to file an ADA or Title VI discrimination complaint, or require some other accommodation, including equipment to facilitate virtual participation, please contact the DEEP Office of Diversity and Equity at 860-418-5910 or by email at deep.accommodations@ct.gov. Any person needing an accommodation for hearing impairment may call the State of Connecticut relay number - 711. In order to facilitate efforts to provide an accommodation, please request all accommodations as soon as possible following notice of any agency hearing, meeting, program or event.