Before the first settlers arrived in the 1700's the Tankerhoosen Valley was primarily woodlands and would have been home to deer, beaver and other animals. The Native Americans had summer campgrounds near Shenipsit Lake and Lake Street and certainly would have hunted and fished along the Tankerhoosen Valley.
By the 1800's woodlands were cleared for farming and for fuel for the mills and iron works in the area. Hunting put meat on the table for farmers and mill workers even with the changing habitats.
In the 1900's the Bissell and Belding families purchased and consolidated the farms along the upper Tankerhoosen River, allowed the woodlands to reestablish itself, and enjoyed hunting and fishing there with family and friends.
For the public, hunting became limited. Game birds were stocked in the fields along Valley Falls Road through the 1970's, but as more houses and subdivisions were built and small manufacturing moved in along Tunnel Road this too stopped. For the past 30 years there has been virtually no hunting allowed in the Tankerhoosen Valley except on private land.
Tankerhoosen Wildlife Management Area
|Hunting boundaries. (PDF)|
In November 2011 the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) purchased the 450-acre Tankerhoosen Wildlife Management Area and opened it to bow hunting at the start of the season in September 2012. This expanded to include firearms hunting in 2013 for the spring turkey season.
From the DEEP website: "The new DEEP acquisition, Tankerhoosen Wildlife Management Area in Vernon, will be open for bow hunting deer, turkey, and small game starting September 15, 2012. The area will remain open for bow hunting until December 31, 2012. It will be designated and posted as a Bow Hunting Only area for the remainder of the 2012 season. Waterfowl hunting is not permitted.
"The area consists of 449 acres bounded by Reservoir Road, Brandy Hill Road, Baker Road, and Fish and Game Road (see map). The adjacent Belding WMA will remain closed to hunting.
» Read about the Tankerhoosen WMA.
Hunting is regulated by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection as part of its comprehensive wildlife management program.
According to the DEEP website the following are permitted at the Tankerhoosen WMA: Small game, Spring turkey, Fall firearms turkey, lottery Deer A & B season, muzzleloader. (Spring 2017).
Fall Hunting Season: Peak hunting activity for small game and deer occurs from the third Saturday in October through December. Bowhunting dates are September 15 through December 31 for bowhunting only areas such as Tankerhoosen WMA (other areas are closed to bowhunting during the firearms season). Small game hunting generally begins on the third Saturday in October, but firearms deer hunting begins on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Spring Turkey Hunting Season: The season for turkeys is only a month - April 26 to May 27, and the hours are limited to 1/2 hour before sunrise to 12 noon. The bag limit is 2 bearded birds. The only legal firearms are shotguns, 20 gauge or larger, which must not be capable of holding more than 3 shells. Bow hunting is also allowed during this period.
Early morning hours (before 9 a.m.) are the most active hunting times, especially on Saturdays and holidays.
State hunting statutes (CGS section 26) forbid hunters from firing across public roads. The statutes also do not allow hunting within 500 feet of a residence, or a barn that has animals. A map of each state hunting area is on the DEEP website. The map depicts these areas in bright yellow. (See Hunting Boundaries map).
No Sunday hunting is allowed anywhere in the state, except at registered private shooting preserves with the town's permission and a permit from the DEEP.
It is the responsibility of property owners to follow state regulations for giving permission to hunt. And it is the responsibility of hikers (and hunters) to wear orange during the hunting seasons.
» Go to DEEP Hunting and Trapping website.
» Go to DEEP Turkey Hunting website.
Hikers in the Belding WMA have expressed concern about hunting in the adjacent Tankerhoosen WMA. The boundary is Snake Hill Road, the trail accessed by those who park at the lot on Reservoir Road. This is a popular walking area, particularly for those with dogs.
Vernon has a leash law and if you follow the law there should be no problem as the 'hunting' and 'no hunting' areas are well marked. If you let your dog off leash it could be in danger.
A section of the Connecticut Shenipsit Blue Trail, a major north-south hiking trail that starts in southeast CT, passes through the Belding WMA along I-84 and near Walker Reservoir. CT hiking trails pass through many areas that are hunted, both public and private. Legally it is the responsibility of hikers (and hunters) to wear orange during the hunting seasons.