November 19, 2003
By KEN BYRON And, JESSE LEAVENWORTH Courant Staff Writers
Two Plymouth men have been charged with illegally hunting
deer by blinding the animals with artificial light and then shooting them.
Calvin Burclaff, 43, and Mark Ouellette, 42, were arrested
Saturday night in Litchfield and charged with jacklighting for deer,
possession of a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle and negligent hunting.
Ouellette was also charged with possession of a firearm while intoxicated.
Jacklighting is the name for a nighttime practice in which
a hunter uses an artificial light to illuminate a spot where deer are
congregated. The light blinds the deer and makes them an easier target to
Capt. Raul Camejo, a DEP conservation officer, said
jacklighting is an annual problem, especially during the fall and winter in
remote areas of the state.
Jacklighters don't fit a single profile, Camejo said.
Sometimes, he said, licensed hunters get caught illegally hunting at night.
Hunting is legal from a half-hour before sunrise until sunset, Monday
Jacklighters take deer for trophies and for meat. It is
illegal in the state to sell white-tailed deer venison, but another recent
arrest in Litchfield shows it can be profitable. Camejo cited the case of
Robert Clark, the owner of the Litchfield Locker Corp., who was arrested
Friday on charges of illegally selling white-tailed deer meat. Clark's shop
was charging $17 a pound, Camejo said.
"If you can get a couple hundred pounds of meat for the
cost of two bullets, your overhead isn't too much - until you get caught," Camejo
Also, jacklighters often use high-powered rifles, the same
kinds of weapons military snipers use to hit targets a half-mile away,
Camejo said. When they shoot those rifles at night in areas they may be
unfamiliar with, they are risking residents' lives, Camejo said.
DEP conservation officers seize jacklighters' rifles,
which often cost more than $500 each. If the accused is found guilty, the
state destroys the rifles, Camejo said. Officers also may seize a
jacklighter's vehicle, he said.
Conservation officers for the state Department of
Environmental Protection found Burclaff and Ouellette hunting in a field off
Wigwam Road in the Northfield section of Litchfield. State police assisted
with the arrests. Officers found a powerful, hand-held spotlight in the
motor vehicle the two men had along with a loaded rifle, ammunition and two
Burclaff and Ouellette were released on promises to appear
in Bantam Superior Court on Dec. 8.