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.
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?