Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area and Field Trial Area

A Unique Area with a Special Purpose

Labrador retriever with a decoy.Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Field Trial Area is a 137-acre parcel of DEEP-owned property located along the Farmington River in Avon and Simsbury, east of Routes 10 and 202. The property, formerly known as the Holloway Farm, was purchased by the State in 1975 with partial funding from the federal government (Land and Water Conservation Fund) for the primary purpose of establishing a sanctioned training and field trial area for hunting dogs. As the site of a former gravel operation, the priority for purchase of the property was determined by its suitability for development as a field trial area. It is the only state-owned property in Connecticut which has been developed specifically for water-based retriever-type dog trials and, as such, is used intensively for organized training events and informal training. Nod Brook is not a State Park. It is one of 4 state areas available for field trial events, and one of the only three state areas available for the year-round training of hunting dogs.

Over the years, improvements to the water bodies and upland habitat on the area have been made so that today Nod Brook is one of the top quality water dog training sites in New England. These improvements have also benefited wildlife populations and enhanced the value of the area for a variety of other outdoor uses by the general public. The area features managed field habitat and an extensive pond system. Habitat improvements have been funded largely by excise tax funds derived from sportsmen and women under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program and continue to be supplemented by the ongoing efforts and contributions from the various dog clubs that use the area.

Within the context of Nod Brook’s specialized purpose, the Department has encouraged other compatible uses of the property, including fishing, small game and waterfowl hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and cartop kayak and canoe access to the Farmington river. However, during organized events, which typically occur on weekends and average more than 50 days annually, the area is closed to all other use pursuant to existing Department regulations to avoid potential conflicts and ensure public safety. If a field trial is in progress, it is unlawful to enter the property. A list of scheduled field trial events is updated regularly and should be consulted before planning a visit to Nod Brook WMA. In addition to organized shooting and non-shooting events, Nod Brook is also regularly used by individual dog trainers during most weekdays and the discharge of live ammunition is permitted.

Hunting is permitted at Nod Brook WMA. Therefore, it is recommended that visitors wear hunter orange (hats and vest/jacket) and that dogs wear an orange vest during the fall and winter hunting seasons. A map and access information for Nod Brook are available on the Connecticut Interactive Hunting Area Map.

Nod Brook WMA is one of 4 areas in Connecticut that are designated specifically for conducting field trials. Three of the areas (Dr. John E. Flaherty Field Trial Area and WMA, Mansfield Hollow State-Leased Field Trial Area, and Sugarbrook WMA) are located east of the Connecticut River. Nod Brook is the sole area west of the River that is designated for field trials. Nod Brook is unique from the other field trial areas because it is the only one developed specifically for water-based retriever dog trials.

What Is a Field Trial?

Field dog trials are sporting events conducted under actual or simulated hunting conditions in the field. For most hunting dogs, the ability to hunt comes naturally, through instinct, but the making of a field trial champion requires a vigorous training program to refine techniques and style. At a field trial, hunting breed dogs may be judged under varying levels of competition and are scored on overall performance, the ability to locate game, and the style, speed, and obedience with which this is done. The various pointing, flushing, or retriever-type dogs entered in field trials may be judged against each other or a defined performance standard developed for the particular breed and age class of dog.

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Content last updated June 25, 2020.