Volume 1 Issue 2 - December 2020

Welcome! We hope your 2020 hunting season continues to be a successful one, especially given how unusual and challenging this year has been due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite many people having to adjust their lifestyles to a socially distant world, there has never been a better time to be outdoors and experiencing nature. Perhaps the social changes brought on by the pandemic have helped you rediscover your passion for Connecticut's outdoors and reminded you of the incredible natural resources our state has to offer. We hope this second issue of Hunter Highlights finds you well.
Hunter Calendar
Deer:
  • Archery: 9/15 (more information)
  • Shotgun/Rifle/Revolver Private Land: 11/18-12/8 Landowner: 11/2-12/31
  • Muzzleloader Private Land: 12/9-12/31 State Land: 12/9-12/22

Upland Birds:
  • Pheasant: 10/17/20-2/28/21
Small Game:
  • Gray Squirrel: 9/1/20-2/28/21
  • Rabbit and Hare: 10/17/20-2/28/21

Migratory Birds:
For complete season dates and regulations, please see the Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.
2021 CT Hunting and Trapping Guide Now Available
The 2021 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide is now published on the DEEP website. The printed version is available at town halls, bait and tackle shops, and outdoor equipment stores.

2021 licenses, permits, and stamps are currently on sale on DEEP's Online Licensing System.

On the cover:
On November 30, 2019, Shane and his daughter Aryana (15) headed into the woods. It was a cold morning when Aryana noticed the deer about 30 yards away from their stand. She slowly moved her .243 rifle into position so as to not scare the deer, and then made the successful shot. Shane could not be prouder of his daughter harvesting her first deer. He has been hunting with her since she was 13 years old and continues the tradition every year.
Check out the latest 2020 deer harvest tally by town (Sept. 15 to Nov. 30)
Habitat and Hunting Area Update
The Wildlife Division’s Habitat Program has been marking property boundaries for a number of newly-acquired parcels. Salmon River State Forest recently expanded by 207 acres when DEEP acquired the Lord property with the help of funds from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. A portion of the property borders Jones Hollow Road and Parker Road in Marlborough, not far from DEEP's Eastern District Headquarters. The boundary of the new property has been marked with state land markers and “Hunting Permitted” signs. Check DEEP’s Interactive Hunting Area Map to find the new location and the types of hunting allowed (the PDF map of Salmon River State Forest will be updated in the near future). Note: This property was not included in the printed version of the 2021 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.

Crews from the Habitat Program, Wetland Habitat and Mosquito Management (WHAMM) Program, and Migratory Game Bird Program have conducted maintenance on 34 inland wetland impoundments, including mowing, grading, reseeding, clearing spillways, removing debris, installation of new inlet piping, and erosion control. Additionally, the WHAMM Program has begun emergency repairs to the tide gate at the Hammock River Wildlife Management Area (photo above).

The Migratory Game Bird Program has conducted productivity checks at 409 wood duck boxes this season. Seventeen boxes were raised due to water level changes, six were newly installed, and 11 were replaced.

From June through September, the following additions were made to hunting areas within the state:

Area: Nehantic State Forest Acreage Added: 85.36

Please note: Recently-acquired parcels need to be border marked and indicated as open before hunting can take place. Questions can be directed to 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.
Seasonal Recipes: Goose Tacos
Our recently created webpage hopes to offer a variety of game recipes for hunters! While this new page is a work in progress, please check back as we continue to add more recipes. We also welcome recipes from local hunters -- send recipes and photos of your creations to deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov. Let's start cooking and enjoy! Now is a great time of year to explore new ways to cook delicious dishes made with wild game, a locally-sourced and sustainable food. Check out our recipe for Wild Goose Barbacoa + Spicy Peach Pico de Gallo (aka Goose Tacos):

Ingredients:

2 pounds of goose breast
¼ large red onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (ACV)
½ lime, juiced
1 cup of sliced peaches (2 fresh peaches, or use frozen)
1 can of chile in adobo* (see note)
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Oil for browning (avocado or duck fat, etc.)

Serving Suggestions:

Tortillas
Fresh chopped cilantro
Diced red onion
Sliced peaches

Directions:

  1. Season the meat with kosher salt and pepper before cooking.
  2. If using an electric pressure cooker, pre-heat using the sauté function. If using a manual pressure cooker, heat the pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
  3. Drizzle in a couple tablespoons of oil, or enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on each side, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Remove and set aside. If needed, add more oil to the pan and sauté the red onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  4. Deglaze the pot with the liquids: ACV, lime juice, and chicken stock. Add the peaches, spices, and can of chile in adobo sauce. Return the browned meat to the pot and stir all the ingredients to mix.
  5. If using a manual cooker, lock the lid and reduce the heat as needed to maintain high pressure without release of steam.
  6. If using an electric pressure cooker, close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to High Sealing Position. Pressure cook at High Pressure for 60 minutes + Full Natural Release (25 minutes).
  7. Check the meat after about an hour and a half. Release the pressure from the pot and open the lid carefully. Check to see if the meat is fork tender. If it is not, cook longer.
  8. When the meat begins to fall apart, pull the pieces out of the sauce using tongs and set aside on a plate. Use forks and shred the meat apart.
  9. Strain the solids from the liquids leftover inside the pressure cooker. Pour the strained sauce into a small saucepot and place it on the stovetop over high heat. Reduce the sauce for 10 minutes or until it reaches desired taste and texture. Pour the reduced adobo sauce over the shredded goose.
  10. Serve the meat inside tacos with cilantro, onion, and peaches, or desired toppings.

Notes:

You can use breast or thigh meat from geese. 2 pounds is roughly 2 breast from a Canada goose.
*The chile in adobo sauce is a little spicy. For a mild version, remove the chipotle chiles from the can and just add the adobo sauce.

2021 CT Duck Stamp Reproductions Available Now
Reproductions of the artwork displayed on the 2021 Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation (Duck) Stamp are available for purchase. The 2021 Duck Stamp features a painting of a Canada goose by local artist Julia Phillips. Julia’s artwork marks the first painting to grace the State Duck Stamp that also took top honors in the Connecticut Junior Duck Stamp Contest. A limited number of Conservation Prints, signed and uniquely remarqued by the artist, are available for $225 each. All proceeds from the sale of Conservation Prints go towards the enhancement of wetlands and associated upland habitats in Connecticut. For more information, please contact DEEP Wildlife Division Biologist Min Huang at min.huang@ct.gov.
Safety Reminders from the Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police
Here are some helpful reminders to help you stay safe in the field and steer clear of violations:

  • Treestand falls can be life-changing. Make sure you wear a full body harness and are clipped in when you leave the ground. A trusted individual should know your location to assist emergency crews in the event you need to be rescued.

  • Many bowhunters in Zones 11 and 12 may be presented with an opportunity to harvest a wild turkey while hunting deer over bait on private land. While this is a legal means to harvest a deer with landowner permission, this is not a legal method of harvest for wild turkey.

  • The exemption to wearing hunter orange applies to stationary waterfowl hunters. If you intend to jump birds, you will need to wear 400 square inches of orange.

  • Be aware of property boundaries in tidal situations. The public trust area within which you can hunt practically extends from the water up to a prominent wrack line, debris line, or water mark. The specific elevation is legally defined through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tidal Flood Profile Charts. Keep in mind that the 250-rule applies in these situations and prudence should dictate whether a spot can be hunted, regardless of it being legal.
Muzzleloaders Are Worth a Shot
If you have not tried hunting with a muzzleloader yet, there are several great reasons to give it a try next season. First, muzzleloaders provide an increased opportunity with more seasons available than with other firearms -- they can be used during the State Land Shotgun, Private Land Shotgun/Rifle/Revolver, and Landowner seasons. Next, a special muzzleloader season exists on state and private lands when no other firearms are permitted, and no minimum acreage is required for hunting with a muzzleloader on private land (500 foot rule still applies). Muzzleloaders can offer a great learning experience for new firearm users, but depending on the type of muzzleloader used, they can also provide a greater challenge for experienced users. Lastly, purchasing a muzzleloader does not require an Eligibility Certificate to Purchase Long Guns or a State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers like many other types of firearms, so new users can begin honing their skills faster.

Go Where the Game Goes
Learning to identify habitat can help put you in the right place for a successful hunt. All wildlife has specific habitat needs unique to each species. The right combination of food types, water availability, shelter, and space will dictate whether certain species can live in an area or not. As a hunter, it can be advantageous to learn what types of habitat your target species uses during the hunting season, in addition to the signs left by animals using the area. According to DEEP Habitat Biologist Pete Picone, “…deer will seek out white oak acorns preferentially in the fall.” Once you know what your game species needs, you can go about scouting those areas. When in the field, you should learn to identify trees and other dominant vegetation to know if you are in the right habitat. To determine white oaks from red oaks, Picone says “White oak trees have light gray colored bark, and the leaves are rounded and not pointed like the red oaks.”

If you are looking for some help identifying the trees in Connecticut, scroll through the Videos section on our Facebook page to see DEEP Forester David Irvin share his tips for learning the major groups of trees.

Hunter Profile: Corey Curtis-Gray
I was lucky to be exposed to deer hunting from a very early age. I remember taking my hunter safety class as a freshman in high school with my vocational agriculture teacher as the lead instructor. Soon after obtaining my hunter certificate, my family took me out for my first Thanksgiving deer hunt. At the age of 18, I remember buying my first pheasant stamp. I took my youth model 20g. shotgun that I was given and ventured off in the state forest in hopes of finding my first pheasant. Although I had so many high hopes of harvesting my first pheasant that day, it just didn’t work out that way. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s, when I was married, that I started to hunt regularly with my father in-law. Each year in early February, we would submit our application for the following deer season.

Over the last 14 years, I have been given the opportunity to hunt a little more each year.  There is something about being outdoors hunting that I find therapeutic. For me, hunting is so much more than the actual harvest of an animal. Hunting allows me to get outdoors and see nature in a way that I wouldn’t normally see on a daily basis. To see the woods come alive just as the sun is rising in the morning is like being in a whole new world.
One of my most memorable experiences was serving as an instructor for my son’s first hunter safety class. Since my son was 4 years old, I have been able to take him out and have him watch me hunt. Prior to the season opening, we would go for short hikes in the woods to scout for locations looking for signs of deer, turkey, or any other wildlife in the area. This year he will turn 12, and I couldn't be more excited to take him out for his first youth hunt.

 If I could give a new hunter any helpful advice, it would be: don’t be afraid to ask questions. I would suggest getting involved in a local Whitetail Unlimited chapter if you have an interest in hunting deer or Delta Waterfowl if you are interested in waterfowl hunting. Getting involved with organizations like these will put you in close contact with like-minded hunters. The last bit of advice that I would give a new hunter would be to have patience. Look at each hunt as a learning opportunity. It may take a little while for your first harvest, but each hunt will offer you priceless information.
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 and Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request an accommodation contact us at (860) 418-5910 or deep.accommodations@ct.gov