ALLIANCE ON DEER SEASON:
SEPTEMBER 15th – JANUARY 31st
Our state allows any Fairfield County property owner to engage a licensed bow hunter to hunt on his or her property from September 15th through January 31st. While it may still be unpleasant news for some, it falls to the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance to reaffirm the strong need for deer hunting as our only viable option to control over-abundant deer in the region.
Indeed, deer contraception, the only other significant hope for control of deer herd expansion, has yet to be approved by the FDA. This also remains in restricted and costly experimental stages. (Darts have yet to be tested.) Surveys in several local towns show well over 70% of respondents wanting more control, not counting those still undecided.
With over-abundant deer in Fairfield County taking a heavy toll, hunters have become our prime means of defense against devastating deer foraging, road accidents, and debilitating deer-tick-borne diseases. If you own or manage property and want to talk to a licensed hunter, we have some suggestions.
Ground Rules for Hunting
First, while hunters invest heavily in their training and equipment, they are not allowed to charge for their service. However, if you want the deer meat to go to a shelter, as through “Hunters for the Hungry”, you may be asked to contribute to the processing fee.
While our sources have never heard of anyone in the region ever being hit by a hunter’s arrow, many serious accidents are triggered on our roads each year. More and more local towns have deer management committees that may help facilitate your inquiries. They are all dedicated to the health and safety of their communities and to the natural environment. Some may be found on town websites.
The Town Clerk in your town should be able to give you a copy of the “Connecticut Hunting Guide-2004”. Fairfield and New Haven Zones, being most stressed, get special hunting privileges, yet the state still does not allow hunting on Sunday. Hunting with firearms carries special restrictions with use not allowed within 500 feet of any occupied building. However, baiting with salt or food was reinstated in our zone. The Guide also tells how landowners are protected from liability when they allow hunting for recreational use without fee.
Finding a Licensed Hunter
A call to your police station may get you in touch with a qualified hunter; in fact some public safety officers are trained hunters themselves. A store that equips hunters, such as Hiller’s Archery store in Norwalk (203-857-3474), may help, or contact with the United Bowhunters Assn.of Conn. (203-469-5000), or The Greenwich Sportsman & Landowners Assn. (203-629-8772), which also facilitate gifts of highly nutritious meat to homeless shelters. (The CT Food Bank may be reached directly at 203-469-5000.)
Interviewing a Prospective Hunter
Hunters prefer to set their high tree stands in wooded areas well out of sight, however when asked, some will hunt on small properties. It is always advisable to alert near neighbors and ask them to allow the hunter to retrieve his game, since deer are apt to run up to 30 or even 60 yards after contact. Some may also allow hunting.
Be sure to ask the hunter to show you his training certificate and current deer hunting permit, and ask about his experience. If both parties are interested, you may agree on details, such as when you allow hunting to take place. Hunters are most apt to hunt during dawn and dusk hours, and when successful, they take away game and field dressing waste. By offering funds to cover butchering for shelters, you may keep him coming back after his own larder is full. The hunter will supply a consent form for you to sign. Be sure his name is on it as well as yours.
John Michelotti of the Greenwich Sportsman & Landowners Association urges homeowners to insist that hunters help control deer population growth. Some hunters, he warns, only want to shoot bucks, and that does not help the cause. Therefore, owners should ask for periodic reports on game taken. (The DEP reports that hunters in Fairfield County now take slightly more does than bucks.)
The Town of Wilton offers a complete guide to the Hunter interview. The Wilton committee and other groups in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, and recently, Ridgefield, have a variety of programs to facilitate deer hunting. These include town bow-hunter lists, walk-in storage coolers, and even specially organized hunts.
The Alliance members find that while hunting is the hunters’ sport, hunters are usually eager to help the landowners and the community at large. Wildlife experts tell us that the expectancy for a typical, healthy doe is to produce 24 offspring in just 12 productive years, and that without intervention, her generations multiply each year. Without continuing help from the hunters, conditions here would surely be chaotic for all, including the surviving deer.
Contact: Kent Haydock, Chair of the Alliance Public Education Committee