This past week the CT Legislature finally passed the proposed set of hunting regulation changes after some fine tuning the wording. This new regulations package brings some good and controversial changes to Connecticut.
Changes include: legalizing crossbows for all archery hunters, expansion of youth hunter training opportunities, use of muzzleloaders as a lesser weapon, fluorescent orange exemption for coyote/fox hunters, adjustments to the crow season dates and establishing seasons, bag limits and other restrictions regarding the take of snapping turtles.
Crossbows not just for the injured anymore here in Connecticut. Crossbows have been added as an approved hunting implement for everyone here in the Nutmeg State. For some bowhunters, they believe this to be their worst nightmare come true as the woods will now be filled with "those once-a-year hacks with the antler stickers all over their trucks will be trampling our early season" or "FUDDS" as one poster on a forum I frequent put it. A word of note - it's not YOUR or MY season, it's EVERYONE'S season! I've hunted other states that allowed Crossbows to be used by anyone and I did not notice an over abundance of "FUDDS" personally, but I did notice a few veteran hunters return to the fall woods with their Crossbow, as well as some youngster join our ranks. Isn't that we what really need - more kids, more women and the return of many of our veteran hunters?! If crossbows help, then I say bring them on. Me personally, I'm sticking to the vertical stick and string!
It will be interesting as people now scramble to get in on the fall archery season with their new crossbow, only to realize they need to have completed and passed a certified bowhunter education course! It will be more interesting as they struggle to find available classes as most of us that are instructors will be spending our free time hunting, instead of teaching! You can visit the CT DEEP wildlife website for a list of available hunter education courses here: CT Hunter Education Courses
No matter what you use to hunt with, it is your responsibility to be comfortable, safe, knowledgeable and proficient with your equipment and we should expect no less from our new fellow bowhunters!
Another change which has stirred up controversy amongst fellow hunters is the extension of the youth training days. The new regulations allow for 7 youth hunt days (Turkey and Deer) which is up from the 2 in previous years. Now having had the pleasure of bringing many youths into the hunting sports, I personally believe these youth hunting / training days are the best addition we have seen in a long time and the increase in days is the next step to making them better! Of course many are complainging how unfair it is to give the kids 7 days of hunting before anyone else, but let's be realistic for a minute. Of those 7 continuous days (used to be 2 Saturdays only), how many hours is your typical youth going to be out hunting? They are in school, the weather will have a say int heir time afield as will their other commitments to extra curricular activities. I may be on the wrong end of this one again, but I'm all for this and I don't have any younger kids anymore! We need more kids in our ranks and if this helps then let's do it!
I am excited about the ability to use my muzzle loader during the shotgun/rifle deer seasons now as well as the shortening of the October closed hunting season. Overall I am happy with the recent regulation changes and appreciate the hard work the folks at the CT DEEP put into these changes. Many hours talking to folks, both for and against, surveys, reviewing what other states have done and finding that balance between our days afield and population control. Now all we need is Sunday hunting!
You can review all the new regulations here: http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2586&Q=514086
Now let's quit fighting with each other and get outside in the great outdoors!