Last year was a memorable one for deer hunters in Connecticut, particularly those who sling arrows at whitetails.

“In 2012, 13,421 deer were harvested, which was the third highest harvest on record, and we had the highest archery harvest ever recorded,” said Andrew Labonte, a biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

A population estimate hasn’t been conducted since 2006, but state biologists know there are plenty of healthy deer. And a bright hunting outlook is on the horizon for this fall.

“Hunting in the southwest part of the state provides the greatest opportunity to harvest deer, especially if you’re comfortable hunting in an urban setting,” added Labonte. “In the northwest, hunters will find fewer deer, but they’ll have an increased likelihood of harvesting a large mature buck.”

The acorn crop is marginal this year, so hunters are better off ambushing a wise old buck on its way to an agriculture field to feed. Northeastern Connecticut has large forested blocks of land mixed with agriculture, providing the perfect whitetail environment.

Regulation Changes
In August, crossbows were legalized for use during the regular archery deer season on both private and state lands. In addition, muzzleloaders have been approved for use as lesser hunting equipment during the shotgun/rifle season on state and private lands, and the three shell restriction for shotgun deer hunting on private lands was removed.

Public Land
Although you’ll have to draw a tag, the Centennial Watershed and Quillinan Reservoir are two quality public lands where you’ll have a good opportunity to harvest multiple deer. If the rut is your favorite time to hunt, be on stand during the second week in November.