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Update: DEEP Police Say Duck Hunting Looks Perfectly Legal

The law allows duck hunting, but were these hunters shooting ducks illegally?

Image of duck hunters shooting into a brace of sitting ducks in Wequetequock Cove, Jan. 17 2014 at 7:30 a.m. Photo by Ellyn Santiago
Image of duck hunters shooting into a brace of sitting ducks in Wequetequock Cove, Jan. 17 2014 at 7:30 a.m. Photo by Ellyn Santiago

Update at 2:50 p.m:

A call to the state Environmental Conservation Police had Capt. Ryan Healy say that what the Patch photo depicts appears to be "perfectly legal," the department is nonetheless "taking a closer look," and as the duck hunting season comes to a close, doing stepped up enforcement in any event.

"They don't appear to be in a restricted area and the boat appears to be a camouflaged duck boat and they could have been shooting at decoys. But it's worst checking out," said Healy.

In fact, as commenter Roy Thomas suggested, that in my ignorance, I reported what (was/may have been) hunters shooting decoys. 

Original story:

I pulled into Watsky Drive, as I sometimes do to take photos of Wequetequock Cove to share with Stonington Patch readers (and Stonington Patch Facebook page friends) and as I approached the end of the drive, through the morning fog, I saw what appeared to be a small barge moving very slowly in the cove. Upon quick and closer inspection, it was clear it was no small barge; the gunshots gave it away. 

The craft was a duck boat with at least two individuals onboard, one shooting into a brace of sitting ducks. I was able to quickly grab a few photos before the small crew saw me and quietly but swiftly motored away into the cover of the tall marsh grasses. 

In the photo attached, you can see one hunter pointing his gun down toward the ducks and firing (it's perhaps difficult to see, but there was white water splash as the shot hit the water.)

I was stunned.

A quick call to local law enforcement for clarification and a subsequent survey of the state regulations confirmed that duck hunting is perfectly legal. (This city girl had never seen it before!) 

Indeed, Connecticut allows duck hunting in our area until Jan. 20, so they were hunting in season. And the regulations allow for hunting ducks, loons and other waterfowl beginning 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset (I took the photo at 7:30 a.m.), so they were clearly hunting during the allowed time.

But were they “seaward of the first upstream bridge,” as the law requires? The answer to that can be easily seen in the photo: No, they were not. The boat was located on cove side of the Greenhaven Road Bridge over Wequetequock River, as defined by the state Department of Transportation. 

Based on state regulation, this appears to be illegal duck hunting.

Tell us in the comments below, is this a sporting way to hunt ducks?

 

 

 


Kristine Halleck January 17, 2014 at 01:41 PM
I live in Pawcatuck and heard gunshots this morning as I walked to my car at exactly this time. I thought they might be from Barn Island, but that's a bit far away from my house. Now I know...BTW, idiots. This guy should be embarrassed...hunter. What a laugh! Thanks for being in the right place at the right time Ellyn & grabbing this shot (pun :). Now let's see if Stonington police or our beleaguered 1st Selectman actually DO ANYTHING!
Roy Thomas January 17, 2014 at 02:26 PM
After review of your image those ducks next to their boat are decoys. Real living ducks would have flown away (flushed) when the boat got anywhere near them. Most hunters put out 20-30 decoys and then hide in the marsh grass 40 yards away. What you call a "brace of sitting ducks" are actually plastic decoys. In all likelihood the hunter shot a duck that fell into his spread of decoys and then drove the boat close to the spread of decoys and shot again to euthanize a crippled duck, a common act for responsible duck hunters. Also, Ellyn, the first upstream bridge rule applies to only one species of duck, sea ducks. Other ducks are perfectly legal to hunt upstream of the first bridge. All you've done here is show your ignorance and accuse innocent people of wrongdoing.
Magdalena Wiktor January 17, 2014 at 04:05 PM
Ellyn, your misreading of the regulations (and apparent bias against legal sporting) is astounding. Duck hunting is permitted in South Zone (anywhere south of I-95, which the area is the photo clearly is) until 1/20. You should be ashamed of using your position as Patch editor to post false accusations of illegal conduct, particularly when you are so utterly ignorant of hunting regulations, even when they are in black and white for you to read on the internet. While it was appropriate for you to issue a correction as you did, you should apologize to your readership for your sloppy reporting based on your misreading of the regulations. How you have managed to inhabit this area for even the shortest length of time without seeing duck hunters is what is stunning. Perhaps you should consider removing your city girl blinders. While you do that, I'll be reminding myself to take what you write with a boulder of salt.
Jack January 28, 2014 at 08:32 AM
I'm on Mason's Island and believe me, there's nothing worse then being awakened by those inconsiderate duck hunters.
Joel January 28, 2014 at 09:00 AM
Jack buys his duck at McQuade's Marketplace. I bet the church bells interrupt his slumber on Sunday mornings as well. Many thanks to Magdalena Wiktor and Roy Thomas for their comments pointing out the obvious problems with reportage with a political agenda.
Teg January 30, 2014 at 07:00 AM
The problem with so-called journalism of the modern time is that nobody just reports the news ie the facts. Everyone of these liberal quacks editorializes all they write. Me think this article is a rouse for gun control
Joel January 30, 2014 at 07:50 AM
You are right Teg. And BTW, if you look at the photo that purportedly shows a hunter "shooting into a brace of sitting ducks" you will notice that the hunter is merely hold the shotgun in "resting" position. The firearm is not shouldered for firing. The reporter should have at least a passing knoweldge of her subject.
Teg January 30, 2014 at 08:15 AM
Lol if they did they would never report on politics, finance or economic matters, but you are right and that's how it used to be. I blame the media for the polarization of America. Those who can think and educate themselves realize that even articles about duck hunting is not what it appears to be and the other half gets all worked up about the article even if it is littered with inaccuracies and lies

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