2016 shotgun deer hunting season off to a good start

 

 

As of noon last Wednesday, 82 deer were checked in at the DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, MA. Some 52 were checked in on opening day.  That figure is significantly higher than last year’s figure at the same time.  Some of those deer were bruisers with beautiful antlers and good body weights..  For example, Peter Derby shot a 6 point buck in Hinsdale that weighed in at 202 lbs.  Thomas Wiencek shot a 9 point buck in Cheshire that weighed 198 lbs.  These were field dressed weights.  To estimate their actual live weights, multiply the field dressed weight by 1.26.  So the estimated live weight of Derby’s deer was approximately 255 lbs and Wiencik’s deer weighed approximately 249 lbs.  Nice deer, ey?

 

The season was only two and a half days old and preliminary harvest numbers were not available from the outlying check stations.  We do know that the Mill River check station weighed three huge deer; a 10 pointer weighing 181 lbs, an 8 pointer weighed in at 186 lbs and another 10 pointer which weighed 157 lbs.   There was an 8 pointer shot in Richmond that weighed 176 lbs, an 8 pointer that weighed 179 lbs and a 10 pointer weighing 184 lbs shot in Lee.  There was an 11 pointer that weighed in at 164 lbs in Monterey and a 12 pointer taken off of Mt Greylock that weighed 174 lbs.  These large deer were in addition to the “normal” sized deer.
DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden said that his office and the outlying check stations all exceeded last year’s harvest numbers for opening day.  He attributed the high harvest numbers to the almost ideal conditions:  ample snow for tracking and pleasant temperatures.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was at the office, the conditions were less than ideal with pretty good downpours.  Even so, the hunters were not deterred.  Around noon time on Tuesday there was a steady stream of hunters checking in their deer.   That kept Madden and Wildlife Technician Derek McDermott out in the rain most of the day checking them in.

 

Effective last year, a third black bear hunting season was started which runs through the 2 week shotgun deer hunting season.  As of noon on Wednesday, 4 bear were checked in at the Western District Check Stations.  According to Madden, this indicates that all of the bears have not yet denned up for the winter in spite of the large snowfall which occurred the previous week.  He did say; however, that hunters can still tag bears online during this season, so he doesn’t yet know  what the tally is.

 

With the hard rainfall and fog on Tuesday and Wednesday, much of the snow melted and tracking might have been more difficult.  But there was plenty of mud and soft ground so it was still possible to track the deer.

 

The shotgun deer hunting season runs until next Saturday, December 10.  If you haven’t been able to get out yet, don’t worry.  There appears to be a lot more deer out there this year, possibly due to the mild winter we had last year.   This year’s shotgun harvest numbers should be relatively high.  After that season, the primitive firearms (black powder) deer hunting season opens on Monday, December 12 and runs through Saturday, December 31.

 

 

 

Coyote Derby

Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield is having its Coyote Derby again this year.  It will run until the end of coyote hunting season which is March 8, 2017.  Entrance fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded to the person who bags the most coyotes, the largest coyote and there will also be a random draw.

 

Licenses on sale

The 2017 hunting, sporting, freshwater fishing, and trapping licenses are available for purchase through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a DFW office.   Good news!  There are no increases in the license fees this year.    In fact, there has not been a license fee increase since 1996.

 

At that time, Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey of Lenox, and the then DFW Director Wayne MacCallum calculated that with the $10 fee increase they imposed, they wouldn’t have to request another increase until the year 2006.  It has now been twenty years.

 

How is that possible, you ask?  Darey attributes it to several factors:  good grant writing, division downsizing, modernization and priority.  Darey said that during the downsizing, no one lost their jobs.  One examples of modernization is that more and more pheasants are being bought, rather than raising then.  This allows for excellent birds at  lower prices because they are saving money on manpower costs.  The Division is also utilizing more economical ways of raising the fish, too.

 

2016 Guides are available

You can now download your 2017 Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing and Trapping Laws (formerly called the abstracts) or pick one up at a licensed vender or at a DFW office.  This year’s cover has a nice picture of a coyote.

 

Listed in the 2017 Guide are the following changes:  1) Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits are now set in the Spring;  2) Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamps may be purchased online through MassFishHunt (mass.gov/massfishhunt) when purchasing your hunting license and state waterfowl stamp and 3)There are new Learn-to-Hunt and Explore archery and bowhunting programs that provide unique opportunities for new hunters and archers to gain important knowledge and skills.

 

In the 2017 Guide, DFW Director Jack Buckley highlighted some of the Division’s accomplishments during 2016.  I plan to list them in next week’s column.

Shotgun deer hunting season opens tomorrow

 

 

Well, here we go again.  Another sleepless night tossing and turning in anticipation of tomorrow’s opening day of shotgun deer hunting.    Memories of previous opening days will undoubtedly flash through our minds.  In my case, with the exception of a few years serving Uncle Sam, I have 59 such opening days to relive tonight.  I might as well not even go to bed as I’ll be up before 4 AM anyway.

 

One memory that comes up regularly each year was the 1990 deer season.  I had hunted in West Stockbridge one day with no luck, not seeing any deer or fresh tracks.  Around noon, I was getting cold and decided to call it quits and go home early.  Just before pulling onto my street, I changed my mind and decided to go up on October Mountain and hunt there for an hour or two.

 

Once there, I entered the woods behind where the old fire tower used to be.  (Remember that place old timers?)  My plan was to go down the wooded hill until I reached the edge of the swamp and take a stand there until around 3 PM.    Then I planned to make a u-turn and come back to my truck.

 

I was hunting alone and it was a cold, windy day with a few spits of snow flurries.  There was no snow on the ground for tracking, but upon approaching the swamp, I detected some freshly disturbed leaves indicating that a deer had recently passed through.  I carefully, silently tracked the deer into the swamp.  After a while I spotted it about 50 yards ahead in thick brush.  It was motionless facing the other direction and had not detected me.  I got down on one knee to steady my aim but there was a problem.  Its legs and back were clearly visible but I couldn’t clearly see its head in the brush and couldn’t determine if it was a buck or doe.  I didn’t have a doe permit.

 

After staying down on one knee for the longest time, my leg started to ache.  I finally dropped onto two knees, but that didn’t spook the deer.  It seemed like an hour passed with neither of us moving.  I didn’t want to move my arm to see what time it was but I knew it was getting late…..perhaps 3 PM.  Realizing I could stay no longer, I stood up and the deer spotted me and bounded off.   I’ll never know what its sex was.

 

It was time to turn around and head back up the hill to my truck.  While heading back out of the swamp, I began encountering thicker vegetation and the ground was becoming soggier.  I didn’t remember it being that wet when I went in.  After a while, it became clear that I had entered the swamp at some other location, with firmer, drier  ground.   I tried getting out of it at several different places but with no avail.  It never occurred to me to use my compass as I only went into the woods a short way, plus I could see the hill that I wanted to get to on the other side of the swamp.

 

About then I was really concerned because the sun had set and it was becoming steadily darker.  Reality was setting in that I was “turned around”.  (Hunters don’t get lost, they just get turned around).  They say not to panic at times like this and I kept telling myself just that.  After all, I reasoned, I am not in some endless wild kingdom, but on October Mountain where I spent many hours hunting snowshoe hares with my beagles.  In spite of that, my heart was pounding rapidly.

 

Experienced outdoorsmen say not to roam around in the dark, but get a good place against a lean-to or some other makeshift shelter, hunker down, light a fire if you can and wait until morning when you can see better.   Don’t you know, I left my thermos, munchies and flashlight in the truck, thinking I wouldn’t be there long.

 

Then I remembered that I told my wife Jan that I would be hunting in West Stockbridge.  No one knew I was here!  There was no way to call her as cell phones weren’t around back then.  When she gets home from work and finds me not there, she will probably call the police and report me missing and tell them I was hunting in West Stockbridge.  After a while, there would perhaps be search parties, sirens, etc.  Oh, the embarrassment of it all!

 

Well, I thought, if I am going to spend the night  in these woods, I might as well spend it out of this swamp and on the dry hill behind me.  Who knows, perhaps when I get high enough, I might be able to see where I originally crossed that swamp.

 

I was nearing the top of the hill, when I saw something shining up ahead.  It was the moon reflecting off of my truck!   Apparently in pursuit of that deer, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.  I am ever so grateful that I didn’t shoot that deer and for not persisting on crossing that swamp.  If I did, I would still be there dragging it in the wrong direction.

 

I sure made some blunders that day.  Can you name them all?

 

Here’s hoping you deer hunters have a safe and enjoyable hunt, and don’t make the blunders that I made that day

 

License to Carry Class:

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a Mass State Police Compliant LTC Course on Saturday, December 3, from 9 AM to 1 PM.  The cost is $70.00 per person.  Preregistration is required.  If interested contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com

He got a couple of bucks

 

Last Saturday morning, Nick Lentine of Pownal, VT (formerly of North Adams, MA) left his house at 4 AM and went bowhunting in North Adams.

At 10:20 AM a 4 point buck chased a doe only about 12 yards away from his tree stand.  About 20 minutes later a big 8-point buck came by and Nick made a perfect shot with his bow.  He sat in his stand about 5 minutes and was getting ready to get down to check on the buck when, to his astonishment, a 13-point buck came by.  He quickly grabbed another arrow and made a second perfect shot.   (Hunters are allowed to take two bucks in the same day in Massachusetts.)

 

He said that it took him and his friends 5 hours to get those two deer out of the woods. No wonder for the 8-point buck weighed 198 lbs dressed and the 13-pointer weighed in at 178 lbs.  He couldn’t thank his friends enough for dropping what they were doing to come and help and share this special moment with him

As Nick said,  “The joy they all shared together will be a memory forever. It was a once in a lifetime (occurrence)!   (It is) every hunter’s dream.”

He is getting both heads mounted by Rick LaBlue Taxidermy in North Adams. The Pope & Young “green scores” are:  8-pt – 138 7/8 and 13- pt – 158 3/8 which may put him into the record book.

Many thanks go to Nick’s wife Jocelyn for bringing this story to our attention. She is every bit as excited and proud as he is over his great feat.

Keep CWD away

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that is fatal to deer, elk, and moose. It attacks the brains of infected animals, resulting in their becoming emaciated, exhibiting abnormal behavior, and eventually dying. Infected deer may spread the infectious agents through urine, feces, saliva, etc., for months before showing any clinical symptoms.

According to MA DFW Deer & Moose Project Leader David Stainbrook, no CWD infected deer have been found in Massachusetts.

In order to keep CWD from coming into MA, certain restrictions to the movement of deer and deer parts have been put in place. It is illegal to import deer parts from states or provinces where CWD has been detected in OH, MD, NY, PA, VA, WV, and at least 17 other states and two Canadian Provinces. It is legal to import deboned meat, clean skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount. No live deer of any species may be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose.

Recently the State of VT joined Arizona, Virginia, Ontario, and parts of Pennsylvania in banning the use of natural deer urine lures by hunters.  As previously noted, CWD is spread by deer urine and other bodily fluids. After infected fluid is deposited in soil, it can remain infectious for decades.  Deer are able to contract CWD and spread the disease for up to a year before they demonstrate any symptoms of the disease.

 

Deer can only be tested for CWD after they die. Therefore, facilities may be producing and selling deer urine lures from deer herds that show no symptoms of the disease but are actually infected with CWD.  According to the VT Fish & Wildlife, this happened in Pennsylvania – the first case of CWD was recorded in a captive deer facility that claimed to be “CWD-free” and was selling deer urine lures online.

 

It is impossible to track and recall bottles of lure that have been sold from an infected facility, so hunters could unknowingly continue to use urine that likely contains CWD prions and risk spreading the disease. Even if most captive deer herds are actually “CWD-free, ” urine lures from different sources are commonly mixed so all it would take is one infected herd to create a problem.

 

Once CWD is established in wild deer herds, no state has been able to control it despite considerable effort and expense. They urge hunters to destroy existing urine lures.  Synthetic lures and food-scented lures pose no threat to the herd and are still permitted for use by hunters in Vermont

Stainbrook agrees that the prions can remain infectious in the landscape for years and even be taken up by plants.  So adding urine to the landscape can certainly increase the risk of CWD being introduced to new areas and increase disease transmission.  There is no cheap or easy way to test for these prions (e.g., to make sure a bottle of urine is CWD free).   He suggests using the artificial replacements instead.  He said that to date, they do not have a proposal in Massachusetts to ban natural deer urine.

Incidentally, if you see a deer or moose in Massachusetts exhibiting any signs of this disease or any other disease, please contact MassWildlife at 508-389-6300.

An Up-Close Look at Wildlife

The Liebowitz Center for International Studies in Great Barrington will be hosting an event entitled, “An Up-Close Look at Wildlife” on Wednesday, November 30, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.  The Center is located at the corner of Alford Road and Hurlburt Road in Great Barrington.

 

You are invited to join them for an evening of photographs and videos of wildlife found in Berkshire County.  While we’ve often had bear sightings, do you ever wonder about their behavior beyond the glimpses we get?  Dr. Richard Greene, a local outdoors enthusiast, will talk about a technique called “camera trapping,” discuss its use in conservation and science, and show photos and videos that he’s taken using this technique.

 

This free event is co-hosted by the Sustainability Committee and the Cool Sightings book project.  For more information contact Karen at (413)528-7247. Space is limited.

 

Questions/comments:  Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com.   Phone:  (413) 637-1818

Paraplegic Deer Hunt went off smoothly

 

According to Trina Moruzzi, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Paraplegic Deer Hunt Coordinator, twenty one hunters participated statewide in the 3 day paraplegic deer hunt which took place from November 3 through November 5.  A total of five deer, one doe and four bucks, were harvested.   This translates to a 24% success rate for this year’s hunt.  In the past five years, these hunters have averaged around a 25% success rate.   Here in the Berkshires, 9 hunters participated this year – 5 in the southern and 4 in the northern Berkshires sites.

The southern Berkshires folks hunted in the Mount Washington area and it was coordinated out of the DCR Headquarters there.  The hunters were:  Sidney Eichstedt of Lee, Greg Baumli of New Lebanon, NY, Steve Gladding of Westfield, MA, Vyto Sablevicius of Norwich, MA and Erin Ferry of Dighton, MA.

Helpers included:  Shaun Smith, Brian Ingerson, Marc Portieri, Greg Arienti, Rick Thelig, Tom Dean, Paul Antonozzi, Fred Lampro, Al Vincent, Paul Mullins and Chuck Pickert, all from the Berkshires or northern Connecticut.

 

For the 8th year in a row, Chuck Pickert brought his trailer-mounted smoker/grill and cooked breakfasts and lunches for the three days.  Tricia Vollmer made the fish chowder and potato salad and other individuals also prepared the desserts and other food needed for the three day event.  A lot of friends who own restaurants and businesses donated food and condiments.

 

On the day that I was there, the lunch menu was:  homemade fish chowder, smoked roast pork loin, smoked Vidalia onion gravy, smoked baked beans, and potato salad as well as the home-made deserts.

 

So how did the hunt go?  No deer were taken that first day. The only thing I saw even remotely resembling a deer was an 8 inch toy African eland that Chuck Pickert’s 4 year old grandson Callen brought with him.  However, on a subsequent day, Erin Ferry bagged a spike horned buck.

 

The 4 hunters at the Northern Berkshires site were: Dale Bailey of Clarksburg, David Alderman of Petersburgh, NY, Fred Klausky of Raynham, MA and Shawn Mei of Baldwinville, MA.   Volunteer included Rick French, Jay and Stacy Sylvester and others.

 

They hunted in the Williamstown area and, Dale Bailey got a doe.

 

DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden and his staff of biologists; Nate Buckhout, Tammy Ciesla and Jacob Morris-Siegel were on hand at both sites to help out and check in the deer.

 

In other areas,  two bucks were harvested at the Quabbin site, and one buck was harvested at the Devens site.

 

“Since 1972, this hunt has provided thousands of hours of recreational opportunities for paraplegic sportsmen and women and I am proud to be part of it.” said Moruzzi.  She noted that volunteers are integral to the program and thanked them for their enthusiasm and commitment.  If you are a paraplegic sportsman or sportswoman interested in participating in the 2017 hunt, contact Trina Moruzzi at trina.moruzzi@state.ma.us or call (508) 389-6318.

Hunters welcome

According to its website (BNRC.org), The Berkshire Natural Resources Council owns over 10,000 acres where one can hike, snowshoe, geocache, fish, birdwatch, paint pictures, take photos, etc.   Local sportsmen love the BNRC because it also welcomes hunters to its properties. One of its principles is that land should be open for passive recreation, which has always included hunting.  In fact, BNRC actively manages its properties for wildlife’s increase, including game species. It believes there is room to share the land among those who appreciate what it offers.

However, it has a few simple guidelines to keep everyone safe:

  • Be aware of the hunting seasons:  some type of hunting occurs from mid-October through mid-March; the busiest period is the shotgun deer season, which this year is from November 28 through December 10.
  • Through the fall hunting seasons, it is important that every visitor (hunters, hikers, and even dogs) wears bright clothing.  “Blaze orange” is the color that shows best in all light conditions.
  • Hikers should stay on marked trails and hunters should make sure they know the location of all trails.
  • Dog-walkers should be especially careful to keep dogs leashed.
  • Give hunters their space:  State law protects a hunter’s rights to legally take game, and BNRC supports their right.

As BNRC puts it, “Keeping land is not an easy task. We’re constantly in the field, working with landowners who want to donate land, scouting for new acquisitions, and planning, building, and maintaining trails that give you easy access to nature. We put rafts on the ponds so you can swim and fish. We build bridges and boardwalks over the streams and wetlands. We do all of this with you, and for you…..all of you.”

Each year, the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) gladly makes a donation to this most worthy organization.  Now you know why.

No Game Dinner

Around this time of year, the Onota Fishing Club usually has its annual game dinner.  However, according to Board Member Clem Caryofiles, it has been cancelled this year.  No explanation was given, but I suspect the passing of director Chris Porter last December had a lot to do with it.  He dedicated a tremendous amount of his time expertly preparing and cooking the wild game.  He was posthumously awarded the BCLS 2015 Sportsman of the Year Award for all of his efforts.

It sounds like the Onota Club will resume having this dinner sometime in the future as Caryofiles noted that they are still taking donations of deer and other game.

Young pheasant hunters take to the woods

 

 

Recently, members of the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club conducted a youth pheasant hunt on club property.  Some 10 youths mostly from 13 years to 15 years age were mentored by club members Stan Tracy, Rick Gale and others.  The club purchases and stocks its own birds on club property and on this day, members gave up their hunting day to allow the youths a chance to experience a pheasant hunt.  The birds were stocked between 5 and 6 AM and no hunting was allowed until after 9 AM.

 

Prior to going out on the hunt, the youths were provided a free pancake breakfast and then they attended a safety meeting.  Most were kids or grandkids of club members but some of them were from other areas.  For example, one youth was from Lee.  A couple of others were kids of parents who did not hunt and they had no other opportunity to learn to hunt pheasants.

 

Tracy mentored three teenage girls, Mia Gale, Isabella LaCasse and Suki Liang and didn’t know what to expect.  “I didn’t know if they would be dressed properly and was afraid that they would show up wearing sneakers” he said.  But when they showed up, the girls were properly dressed in camo or hunter orange clothing and knee high boots.  They were serious and ready to go in spite of the cold, raw weather.  Two parents showed up to help with the mentoring.

 

Out to the woods and fields they went, accompanied by Tracy’s bird dog Brady.  The girls did great, each having bagged a pheasant.   The only complaint that Tracy received was that after an hour or so, the guns became heavy.  He was glad that the parents came along to help carry the extra gun for them.   They were anxious to call it a day, not because of boredom or the cold weather or anything like that.  They wanted to get back to the clubhouse to clean their game.  They weren’t fazed at all with the plucking and removal of the birds’innards.

 

In all, 10 youths participated in the hunt and they bagged 15 or 16 birds.

 

Incidentally, MassWildlife will be stocking 40,000 pheasants statewide this fall.  They started stocking for opening day which was October 15 and will continue until November 25.  Plenty of time left to bag a couple for your next pheasant under glass meal.

Division of Ecological Restoration

The MA Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration works with community-based partners to restore aquatic ecosystems. The Division’s ecological restoration work brings clean water, recreation opportunities, healthy commercial fisheries, and other ecosystem services to the citizens of Massachusetts.  Tim Purinton is its Director. Here is what they had to say about our recent drought in its November 2016 newsletter Ebb and Flow:

“Our aquatic ecosystems are under an incredible amount of stress from the ongoing and persistent drought. This long period of drought will be remembered, like the blizzard of 1978 or the hurricanes of the late 1950s.  Periods of low streamflow and drought are a natural occurrence and many aquatic organisms have evolved traits that enable them to survive. However, this summer’s drought has highlighted how human activity and a changing environment have greatly impacted the ability of many aquatic organisms to survive under drought conditions.

DER’s Streamflow Restoration program documents flow stress conditions around the state, due to water withdrawals near headwater streams and impervious surfaces that reduce the potential for rain to recharge aquifers. These data are used to inform and support policy and actions that restore and maintain healthy streamflows.

This summer and fall we observed many streams that were completely dry for months at a time and others that were just a series of disconnected pools. In these impacted streams, the baseflow (groundwater that feeds streams during periods when there is no precipitation) had disappeared as groundwater levels dropped below the streambed due to the impacts of water withdrawals, lack of precipitation and impervious surfaces. In other streams, water levels behind dams dropped below spillways, resulting in no flow below the dam. The lack of water and flow in these streams directly impacts habitat quantity and quality which may have lasting impacts on aquatic organisms.

While many streams that we monitor were severely impacted by drought conditions, the reference streams that we monitor as part of a regional climate change monitoring network fared much better. These streams are located in relatively undeveloped and forested watersheds with healthy riparian corridors and proved more resilient to drought conditions. These streams were able to maintain baseflow and cool temperatures throughout the drought, illustrating how important these forests and riparian vegetation are to maintaining healthy streamflow. This natural infrastructure allowed the precipitation to slowly infiltrate and recharge groundwater aquifers, providing lasting benefits for instream habitat and water temperature. These streams flowed throughout the summer and fall while many other streams were dry.

Impacts of the drought are not limited to streams, as drinking water suppliers, fishing and recreational enthusiast as well as the agricultural industry all faced serious drought related impacts. One bright spot of the drought is the increased emphasis and interest in the importance of water conservation, especially during the summer. Many communities were able to greatly reduce water use through conservation practices, including increased education, watering restrictions and bans. These conservation efforts not only benefit water supplies but also streamflow.”

 

New State record white perch caught

New State record white perch caught

Back in July, 2016 MassWildlife reported that a new state record lake trout was caught out of Quabbin Reservoir.  Caught by Eric Kozlowski, of Cheshire, it weighed 22 lbs 4 oz.  Well, MassWildlife recently reported that another state record freshwater fish was caught.  This one, a white perch, was caught by Val Percuoco, of Leominster, MA out of  Wachusett Reservoir.  It weighed 3 lbs 8 oz, was 18 inches long and had a girth of 13.5 inches.  It broke the previous record of 3 lbs 5 oz, which was caught in 1994 by Tray Richford.  That fish also came out of Wachusett Reservoir.

 

Val is an avid angler and she was fishing with her father Vinny Percuoco, on Sunday, October 16.  They were fishing from the shore as there is no boating allowed on Wachusett Reservoir. While fishing with a night crawler a big fish hit.  “It was a great fight from the second I set the hook- nice bend in the rod, running drag like crazy.” she said.   Her dad didn’t net it because he didn’t want to damage the fins. He just carefully pulled it in by the line once it was close enough to the shoreline.

 

“I just ran to the measuring tape because we were going to measure and release for the Catch and Release Program with MassWildlife, but then we realized just how big it was. So we grabbed our scales and weighed it.”     “State Record!” said Vinny.

 

Val said that this once in a lifetime fish will be mounted.  Usually it is either catch & release for them or her mom and grandparent will eat what they catch.  Neither she nor her dad eat fish.

 

It was brought to B & A Bait and Tackle in West Boylston, MA, a shop right next to Wachusett Reservoir, was weighed and an affidavit filled out. She then brought it to the MassWildlife Field Headquarters on the next day where Todd Richards, Assistant Director of Fisheries, certified that it was a white perch and he weighed it.

 

Val is 28 years old and she has been fishing with her dad since she was 3.    Val and Vinny  – what a great team.  May they fish together for many more years to come.

 

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, anyone who may have a state record fish must bring it to a MassWildlife office for a fisheries biologist to identify and weigh.

 

 

IDPA Steel Rimfire rifle match  

The International Defense Pistol Association invites you to bring your rimfire or centerfire (9mm up to .45) pistols or revolvers to use at the upcoming match on November 5 at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.  Rifles must be bagged or boxed with empty chamber indicators in place and .22LR rimfires only. You should bring 5 magazines if possible, 150 round count (No magnum loads).  These are safe shoots with a safety officer standing next to the shooter.  Shooting will take place under the canopy, so rain is no problem.  Cost is $7 and Cold Range Rules apply.  There will be a safety briefing at 12:45PM.  Contact Shawn Sullivan for questions ssullee@icloud.com.

 

PCB Cleanup

It seems like some progress is finally being made on the removal of PCB’s from the Housatonic River.  As you are probably aware, the EPA has recently announced its plan to clean up the “rest of the river”. And it is anticipated that GE will appeal the decision.  What’s new there?   Berkshire Eagle reporter Clarence Fanto has been on this story for years and has been doing a great job of keeping us informed.

 

You may recall that the EPA and GE finally came up with a consent decree in the year 2,000.  Not bad, it only took 20 or so years to get that far.  After 16 more years of wrangling, and with the input of agencies such as the Massachusetts DEP and F&W, CT DEEP, and others, the EPA came up with a plan to address the PCB’s.  Basically, it would remove them from the hot spots in the river and flood plains from Pittsfield to Woods Pond in Lenox Dale and move them out of state to a licensed landfill.   (See Fanto’s October 25, 2016 Berkshire Eagle entitled” EPA’s cleanup plan is final” for more details of the plan.)  So after all these years, it turns out that the shovel and wheel barrel technology prevailed.

 

It does more dredging than I like to see and not enough for those who advocated for a more thorough clean-up.  And GE will undoubtedly appeal it.  But it seems to be the most reasonable plan, one that doesn’t destroy the river but removes a good chunk of the PCBs.  It is a plan that appears to be acceptable to fisheries and wildlife biologists and area sportsmen.  The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen has always advocated for an environmentally sensitive cleanup.  Good luck if you think you will get rid of all the PCBs there or anywhere in the world.

 

So will the cleanup begin tomorrow?  Hah!  It will probably take 5 years before all of GE’s appeals have been resolved.  Who knows, maybe the EPA’s plan will be scrapped.  Let’s hope the EPA hangs tough and will not allow the PCB’s to be placed in dumps anywhere here in the Berkshires.  Even if GE agreed to the plan and started cleanup tomorrow, it is projected to take 13 years to complete.

 

Some years ago while discussing the proposed cleanup with my neighbor; I said that we would probably never see that cleanup (and accompanying environmental damage) in our lifetimes.  His reply was, “I hope I never do”.  He may get his wish.