Got land?

Connecticut venison connoisseurs may soon have an influx of fresh deer meat on their plates, as the fall deer and turkey archery seasons open on Sept. 15.

Both bow and crossbow hunters in Fairfield County will be allowed to hunt on public and private property until Jan. 31, 2015 — so long as they possess an archery permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

According to the state, Wilton is one town where deer hunting can be especially good.

“The outlook for the 2014 hunting season is good,” said Rick Jacobson, director, DEEP wildlife division. “Although there are good deer hunting opportunities throughout most of Connecticut, the southwest corner of the state and many of the shoreline towns provide the best opportunities, especially for bow hunters.

Hunter-Landowner Program

In Wilton, a special program allows hunters to take advantage of hunting on private land through the Hunter-Landowner Match Program, Environmental Affairs head Patricia Sesto said in a recent email to The Bulletin.

“With the approaching 2014 deer-hunting season, the Wilton Deer Committee is again seeking participation from private property owners,” she said. “Hunting on public land alone cannot address our deer overabundance and threats to public health and safety and integrity of our natural areas.”

This program connects private land owners experiencing deer problems — like flower and plant destruction, and Lyme disease outbreaks — with bow hunters who are allowed to take deer on their property.

One family taking advantage of the program is that of Loretta Foley, a deer committee member. On top of dealing with the “frustration of deer browsing” their plants and gardens, the family also had a close call with Lyme disease.

“When their daughter was five she got Lyme disease and spiked a frightening 105-degree fever and was bedridden for days until the fever broke,” Ms. Sesto said. “She was lucky she got the classic bull’s-eye rash seen only 70% to 80% with Lyme. This allowed the disease to be treated early.”

When tick control and deer repellents (like animal urine and human hair) failed to control the three deer herds regularly on their land, they turned to the hunter-landowner program, and saw positive results. Their neighbors decided to join them, combining for a total of 10 acres. Each year the hunter they engaged took one to two deer.

“This is the fourth year the properties will be hunted and they will be adding three acres of private open space adjacent to the hunted properties where deer are often seen,” Ms. Sesto said. “As told by the Foleys, the group has seen notable improvement. There are fewer deer roaming the property. In fact it is rare to see deer during the day until early spring and again in the fall.”

The town deer committee can help set up any interested homeowner with a closely vetted bow hunter to help manage deer populations on their property, Ms. Sesto said.

“In addition to satisfying a state requirement to secure a hunting license, the hunters have been subject to local background checks and proficiency tests,” she said. “The assigned bow hunter will meet with you, evaluate your property for suitability, and if all are in agreement to go forward, he will ask you to sign a landowner consent form.”

Information: deercommitte @wiltonct.org; ct.gov/deep/hunting.