The woodcock hunting season opened last Wednesday and runs through October 29. It reopens on October 31 and runs through November 19. Because the woodcock is classified as a migratory game bird but not a waterfowl, lead shot may be used. However, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration is required to hunt them as well as ducks, geese and other waterfowl.
Tomorrow morning marks the opening of duck and Canada goose hunting season in the Berkshire Zone and runs through November 26. Duck hunting season reopens on December 5 and runs through December 24. Goose season reopens on December 5 and runs through December 13. (Although referred to as the Berkshire Zone, its eastern boundary is I-91, Rte 10 and Rte 202.) Check the regulations regarding daily harvests for the various ducks, geese and woodcock.
The pheasant and ruffed grouse hunting seasons open next Saturday and runs through November 26. The daily limit for pheasants is 2, and for grouse it is 3. If hunting a Wildlife Management Area for pheasants or grouse and other small game, you must wear a hunter orange cap. The exceptions are if you are hunting waterfowl from within a blind or boat or if you are hunting raccoons or opossums at night.
Cottontail rabbit hunting season opens next Saturday in Zones 1 – 12 and runs through February 28, 2017. Snowshoe hare season opens next Saturday and runs through February 28 in Zones 1-4. The other zones have differing seasons. The daily limit is 5 cottontails and 2 hares.
The gray squirrel season, which opened on September 12 in our zone is ongoing and ends on January 2, 2017. The daily limit is 5. Rabbit, hare and squirrel hunting seasons are closed during shotgun deer hunting season.
Next Saturday, the coyote hunting season opens and runs through March 8, 2017. There is no daily limit on them but they must be checked in at an official check station or online with MassWildlife.
It is important that hunters check the Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide for a listing of all of the hunting regulations and remember that hunting on Sundays is prohibited.
Brake for moose
As you may be aware, there have been at least two moose/auto accidents in the Berkshires recently. The Berkshire Eagle has covered them and as a public service, cautioned drivers to be on the lookout for them especially while driving at night. This is important and bears repeating.
Hitting a moose with a car is dangerous and the results can be tragic. In September and October, cows come into their breeding cycles and they become reckless and travel into residential areas or across major highways.
Because they have no predators, moose can be oblivious to the potential dangers posed by automobiles and most people are unaware of the number of moose in our midst.
Be particularly alert, especially at night during the fall breeding season. Moose will step out onto a roadway without showing the slightest concern for oncoming traffic. With their long legs, a vehicle hitting a moose take the legs out from under them, flipping their bodies onto the car’s windshield or roof. The dark body is difficult to see and its eyes are much higher in the air than the level of a pair of white tail deer eyes. Always use your bright lights when traveling at night when there is no oncoming traffic.
Youth deer hunt
MassWildlife reports that statewide there were 1,236 youth deer permits issued this year for the special Youth Deer Hunt Day which was on October 1. Of that total, 698 permits went to youths aged 12 to14 year olds and 538 permits went to those aged 15 to 17. Last year, the first year of the youth hunt, 1,339 youths participated.
As of this writing, there were 118 deer reported online. MassWildlife did not yet have the season total as there are some physical check stations that are not online. It is expected that the final number could reach between 120 and 125. Last year 146 deer were harvested during the Youth Deer Hunt Day.
The accompanying picture is of 12- years old Juliann Lawson with her proud dad, Dan, and her first deer. She harvested the adult doe in Williamstown where her grandfather, Bob McCarthy, let her hunt at his favorite stand. According to Dan, it took about an hour to see the deer, and she didn’t miss.
Incidentally, Dan Lawson is an avid sportsman and valued delegate of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS), representing the East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club. Juliann’s grandpa Bob McCarthy is also a well known local sportsman and delegate to the League. He was named the 1987 BCLS Sportsman of the Year. With mentors like that, how could she not succeed in bagging her deer. It is great to see the hunting tradition passed on from generation to generation.
I hope to have the names of other successful youth deer hunters next week.
Fall trout stocking
Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Manager recently reported that they will not be stocking the East Branch of the Westfield River this fall due to low water conditions. They do intend to stock the Deerfield River as well as the following lakes/ponds: Onota Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Stockbridge Bowl, Goose Pond, Richmond Pond, Lake Buel, Big Pond, Otis Reservoir, Windsor Lake, Windsor Pond, Ashfield Pond, Littleville Lake, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake and Norwich Lake.
Sporting clubs with an interest in wildlife habitat management may want to apply for grant funding from MassWildlife. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has provided $300,000 for a habitat management grant program that will fund private and municipal efforts to manage conservation lands which benefit native wildlife and related recreation. The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program is managed by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife). In its second year, the program provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife in greatest conservation need and for game species. The projects will also expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands.
Eligible applicants include owners of private or municipal conserved lands. Conserved land is defined as property protected in fee or by a Conservation Restriction, land enrolled in Chapter 61,61A/B, or has a current Landowner Incentive Program covenant. Examples of habitat management practices include: Mowing, brush hogging, heavy chipping, tree clearing, contract grazing, invasive species control, fencing for habitat protection, prescribed burning, woodland improvements, tree planting of species beneficial to wildlife, nest site structure, creation and installation, and more.
Applicants may apply to receive between $10,000 and $50,000 per grant towards their approved habitat management projects. State and federal lands are not eligible. For more information click onto mass.gov/dfw/habitat-grant. Applications must be postmarked by November 15,2016.
HVA improving riparian buffer
Eversource manages a transmission right-of-way in Hinsdale which crosses the Old Mill Trail and the East Branch of the Housatonic River, a state designated healthy cold water stream. The strip of land adjacent to the river under this transmission line will be the site of a restoration project to be coordinated by the HVA thanks to funding received from Eversource and the Central Berkshire Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Eversource’s maintenance of vegetation under transmission lines is designed to keep vegetation from growing into the overhead electrical lines. Where transmission lines cross a river, this can greatly reduce the amount of river shading which is important for keeping stream temperatures cool. Cool temperatures are especially critical for native brook trout, whose population in recent years has declined considerably. The East Branch of the Housatonic River still has a healthy native brook trout population. When members of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited expressed concern to HVA about this stretch of river under the transmission line along the Old Mill Trail and its potential impact on the native brook trout habitat, HVA responded and drafted a restoration plan.
With permission from Eversource and the Hinsdale Conservation Commission and necessary funding, the process to create a much healthier riparian buffer has begun. This fall, invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, barberry and multi-flora rose will be treated or removed. Later on selected native plants will be planted with assistance from Wahconah High School students.
This improved riparian buffer will provide shade, better stabilization of the river bank and also intercept surface runoff thereby trapping any sediment and pollutants before they enter the river. The leaf litter from the vegetation naturally deposited into the stream will provide food for many of the aquatic invertebrates which in turn will provide food for trout and other fish.
In cooperation with the new landowners, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, HVA will ensure future trail management includes manual removal of any woody seedlings that could interfere with the transmission lines. Manual maintenance of this stretch of vegetation under the transmission line could eliminate any need for future herbicide applications between the Old Mill Trail and the river’s edge. Over time, the improved riparian buffer and elimination of invasive species will enhance the wildlife habitat in and along the river. For more information about this restoration project, contact the HVA at 413-394-9796.
Unfortunate cancellation of Big MOE
The Massachusetts Outdoor Expo, (Big MOE), started out with a group of sportsmen and women who wanted to create an opportunity for kids to learn more about outdoor skills, wildlife and conservation. They approached the Hamilton Rod and Gun Club in Sturbridge to host the Expo, due to its central location and facilities. Shortly thereafter, members of the Outdoor Expo group approached FAWNS, (Facts About Wildlife & Nature Society), a non-profit group founded in 1998 to promote the connection of people to the outdoors. They were also interested in promoting educational experiences focusing on the outdoors and a partnership was formed with FAWNS being the organizing entity.
For 19 years the Big MOE continued to operate as a free family event. Its key function was to offer a first, safe, step into the outdoors guided by the certified instructors who oversaw the hands-on activity stations. It provided its participants with the tools to learn about and connect with the many education programs, sporting clubs, and other community pathways to learning more about outdoor activities. The event annually drew several thousand visitors and about 45 activity stations.
This year, with just a few days before the big event, they were unable to secure the necessary liability insurance to protect all involved. Even though it had a perfect, incident free record for the past 19 years, the insurance companies deemed the event a high risk. Consequently, the event, which was scheduled for last Sunday, had to be cancelled. As one organizer said, “Sadly, this is now a reflection of where our society is heading unless we all make an effort to change this attitude”.
Fortunately, they were able to get the word out about the cancellation in time and only 30 cars had to be turned away. People were disappointed but they weren’t angry.
FAWNS is determined to continue Big MOE next year.
In his most recent report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden reported that fall trout stocking season should be beginning this week and be completed by the second week of October depending on water conditions. This fall more than 60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer will be stocked in Massachusetts water bodies.
According to MassWildlife’s Chief of Hatcheries, Ken Simmons, the ongoing drought should not have a major impact on fall stocking even if it persists through the fall season. “Drought conditions will likely result in the curtailment of some river and stream stocking due to low flows but we do not anticipate there will be much of an impact on lake and pond stocking,” Simmons said. There are more than 90 lakes and ponds on the fall stocking list and only 14 rivers and streams. MassWildlife fisheries biologists will assess the condition of each waterbody before making a final decision about stocking.
The two rivers in our area that are usually stocked in the fall are the Deerfield River and the East Branch of the Westfield River. According to Madden, stocking in the Westfield River could be iffy unless water conditions greatly improve.
Simmons noted that the drought has made operations at MassWildlife’s five hatcheries more challenging but has not affected the number of fish available for this fall’s stocking. In fact the 60,000 rainbow trout that will be stocked is 10,000 more fish than the original fall goal.
As was the case with the 2016 spring season, anglers will be able to view daily stocking reports this fall by visiting Mass.gov/Trout. They can search for a specific waterbody or town using the sortable list, or explore new fishing spots by using the map feature.
Airboat crew banding waterfowl
During dark nights of late summer and early fall, MassWildlife biologists take to the marshes and rivers in an airboat to capture ducks for banding. This technique, called night-lighting, allows biologist to sample ducks all over the state. Unlike traditional bait trapping, which limits sampling to a few sites, night-lighting with the airboat allows biologists to capture ducks in the Berkshires one night, on the Cape the next night, and in Worcester County the night after that.
Ducks are placed into crates according to their size, then banded and released. Banding records are submitted to the Bird Banding Lab of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The data then become available to state and federal biologists who assess the status of waterfowl populations. It can also be used to monitor movements, wintering areas, and longevity of various species.
The airboat is used to navigate shallow marshes where ducks roost among vegetation at night. The loud noise generated by the 350 horsepower engine and the spotlights onboard confuse the ducks and allows biologist to get close enough to net them. Because of the noise, most sites are visited only once per season and boating rarely goes beyond 11 pm. Successful night-lighting requires a dark sky, so trips are shorter early in the season due to the late sunset. Moonlight is also a factor; airboat trips must be planned to avoid the brightest phases of the moon.
This year, some sampling sites may not be available due to the ongoing drought. While the airboat doesn’t need much water to get around, it needs some. Night-lighting concludes at the end of September but in the meantime, if you hear what sounds like an airplane stuck in a swamp, it just might be the MassWildlife airboat.
Paddlers in kayaks and canoes must wear life jackets from September 15 to May 15 every year. According to the Massachusetts Environmental Police, most boating fatalities in the Commonwealth result when boaters fail to wear life jackets while in small craft in cold water or cold weather. Waterfowl hunters using canoes or kayaks are reminded that this law also applies to them.
Youth Deer Hunt is October 1
It is not too late to get your child enrolled into the Youth Deer Hunt program. The Youth Deer Hunt Day provides young adults aged 12–17 with an opportunity to hunt deer with their own deer tags during a special single-day season that precedes the Commonwealth’s annual archery, shotgun, and muzzleloader seasons. Hunters are reminded that all shotgun deer season regulations apply on the Youth Deer Hunt day. Youth Deer Hunt Permits are free, but must be obtained at a license vendor or MassWildlife office. The permits and tags are only valid for the Youth Deer Hunt day and cannot be used in later seasons. All youth hunters and any accompanying adults must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of blaze orange on their chest, back, and head.
Whitetails Unlimited Banquet
The Berkshire County Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited will be holding a banquet on Saturday, October 1 at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, Route 102, in Stockbridge. Social hour begins at 5pm and buffet dinner at 6:30 pm. There will be games and raffles. For tickets or information, contact Keith O Neil at (413)717-1945 or buy online at www.whitetailsunlimited.com.
Free fly tying classes
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is exploring the possibility of conducting free fly tying classes at the Berkshire Hatchery in Hartsville/New Marlborough, MA. Depending on interest, it will be conducted on Wednesday evenings beginning October 12 at 6 pm. Initially, the class size will be limited to six. Tools and materials will be provided. If interested in enrolling or if you have questions contact Will Regan at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at the below address. I will report in a future column if there is enough interest to hold the classes.
Last week I wrote about our flyfishing trip to Labrador. This is a continuation.
We flyfished primarily the inlets and outlets of Anne Marie Lake, Big Minipi and Little Minipi and the rivers in between for several days, trolling for pike occasionally, casting from rowboats and square backed canoes and wading the rivers. Float plane fly outs to other nearby lakes in the Minipi River system were usually available, but due to repairs, we were unable to take advantage of them until day 6.
I was a little uncomfortable flyfishing out of the canoes where two fishermen in waders stand up casting while the guide controls the canoe. Did I mention that I can’t swim?
For the first 5 days, neither Mike Lange nor I had caught a trout, in spite of 40 or 50 of them having been caught by others. Gary Hebert and Ron Amidon actually had “doubles” fishing out of their boat, (two fish caught simultaneously). Mike took it with grace, simply pouring himself a glass or two of wine each night and smoking a cigar out on the deck.
I didn’t handle it well at all. Beginning to doubt my fishing abilities, I asked the guides what I was doing wrong. Nothing, they said, just think positively. That lodge rafter started to look pretty good as a solution to my fishing problems. After 5 fishless days, I texted my wife Jan, saying, “Another lousy day in Paradise.” (That’s the title of a book by flyfishing author John Gierach). Jan thought I was referring to the weather.
I considered praying for help, but I didn’t want to waste God’s time on a lousy trout. I would rather ask for his Divine Intervention to ensure that our 1952 vintage de Havilland Beaver float plane kept us airborne.
Everyone was sympathetic and the guides had been taking note of our plight and were doing their utmost to see that we caught a trout. Even the camp cook, Nancy, quietly approached me one day before dinner and discreetly placed a pink button into my hand, claiming it would bring good luck fishing the next day. Hocus pocus, yes, but I would try anything about then. The next morning, when she asked if I was taking the button, I realized that I had lost it. She immediately got me another one, this one attached to a piece of string, and I pinned it to my vest.
On the way out to go fishing on the 6th day, the camp cleaning lady, Dru, all of 4’6” tall, massaged my ear lobes for good luck. I don’t know …. must be an Innu or Inuit thing. The bush pilot who was flying us out to the Little Minipi River absolutely guaranteed us success that day, too.
So there I was, after having spent thousands of dollars, casting away on the Little Minipi, placing my trust in a button, shiny ear lobes and an unwritten bush pilot’s guarantee. It seemed to have worked for I hooked a fish (3lbs?) and brought it to the guide’s net. He missed it and it got away! Shortly thereafter, I hooked a larger fish and it also got off. More despondency! Meanwhile I was watching Mike Shepard catch 7 trout just several yards downstream from me. He conceded the spot and I finally caught my first fish, a 6 ¾ pound beauty.
After releasing that fish, my thoughts turned to Mike Lange across the river, hoping he would catch one, too. Later that day, when we got to our float plane to return to camp, he told me that he caught two nice fish. Good for him, for he and Bob Wilson had to fly out that evening.
On our last day, Mike Shepard and I had the camp boss Ray Best as our guide. He was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area. As we trudged through the woods, he crushed leaves from a shrub along the trail and had us smell it. It was called Indian tea and had a pleasant aromatic smell. Later, he picked some small white berries and had us taste them. They were tasty, with a minty flavor. When asked their name, he said, “We call them little white berries”.
We were fishless until about 2 pm. Mike was standing in a fairly shallow part in the middle of the river while I fished with Ray from the boat. Mike hooked a good fish but before we could get over to him, it got off. Then he hooked another and this time we were there to net it for him. While there, Mike suggested I fish the area.
“The plane leaves in an hour”, I heard crackling through Ray’s Walkie Talkie. We still had to cross the river, stow the boat, hike a trail to the outlet of Anne Marie Lake get into another boat, cross that lake to the lodge and finish packing. I reeled in the line and readied to go, when Ray said that we still had 10 minutes of fishing time. I made a short case and watched a big trout come up from the bottom and take the fly. The 7 ¼ lb trout was netted, photo’d and released. Another cast and bang, another, this one was 7 ½ lbs. It was time to leave. Go figure.
During this trip, the 10 of us had caught 90 brook trout over 3 lbs, 16 of them over 7 lbs and an 8 pounder. All were gently netted, weighed, photographed and released.
Incidentally, when I got home and finally read Gierach’s above referenced book, Another Lousy Day in Paradise, I was surprised to learn that it was about fishing where we were on Anne Marie Lake on the Minipi. The title is facetious, for he caught lots of big fish there, but for me for a while, it was real.
On August 18, Attorney Michael Shepard of Dalton and I joined eight other flyfishermen and departed for Labrador to fish for brook trout. Our destination was Coopers Lodge which sits on a peninsula on Anne Marie Lake in the Minipi River system which flows north to the Churchill River and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean.. Anne Marie Lake is approximately 5 miles long. The Minipi has been written up frequently in national outdoor sports magazines and is touted as having the largest brook trout in the world with catches averaging 5 lbs apiece.
The brook trout there are a unique strain and have been the subject of various genetic studies over the years. The late Lee Wulff first brought it to our attention when he brought Curt Gowdy and the ABC American Sportsman’s Show crew to film them fishing there in the 1960’s. Wulff’s 1939 admonition that “a sport fish is too valuable to be caught only once” was really evident there.
Wulff felt that the size of these fish was based on the food source. The water is organically and chemically suited to support rich quantities of insect life. The lakes are shallow enough to let sunlight reach their beds and warm things to great productivity, in spite of the short 4 month growing season. Biologists believe the fish, which have evolved over thousands of years of natural selection, gain 1 lb a year feeding on the 26 varieties of mayflies and many caddisflies in the Minipi water system. Every now and then the guides tag some trout and one of them traveled 70 miles to the Kenamu River in Labrador/Newfoundland. Another trout that was tagged in the Minipi river system had traveled 15 miles in one week.
We wanted to catch some. The trip was arranged by fly fishing guide Marla Blair of Ludlow, MA, and was coordinated by Michael Miller of Athol. Also joining us was Gary Hebert of Richmond NH. (The four of us had previously fished Lake Tierny together in Quebec two years ago). Accompanying Mike Miller was his son Darren Miller of Bedford, his grandson Brandon Jones also of Athol, William Waight of Westminster, MA and Ron Amidon of Templeton, MA. Dr. Robert (Bob) Wilson of Naples, FL and Michael Lange of Newton, PA, joined us a day later.
Lorraine and Jack Cooper have been operating camps on the Minipi river system for nearly 40 years following Wulff’s philosophy of Catch & Release. They monitor anglers’ catches in notebooks, listing the weight, location, fly and angler’s name. The Coopers have two lodges, one on Minipi Lake and the other on Anne Marie Lake. We stayed at Anne Marie, the newest one, built in 2011. It was absolutely gorgeous.
We took off from Boston and spent the first evening in Goose Bay, Labrador. The following morning we flew by Twin Otter float plane to our destination camp on Anne Marie Lake, some 25 minutes south of Goose Bay. Upon arrival, we met our guides (one guide per two anglers, rotated daily). The camp boss was Ray Best and he had a team of excellent guides: Todd, Ralph, Herb, Junior, Hebert and Wadsworth. All resided in the Goose Bay area. We met the cook, Nancy from Quebec and cleaning lady, Dru (Wadsworth’s wife). We immediately unpacked, ate a light lunch, suited up and were out fishing that afternoon.
Fortunately, I can report that no bear attacks, calamities or other fearful events took place on this trip. The only injury sustained was by Bill Waight and that was a hand injury. He hurt it banging on the wall one night, trying to quell the loud snoring of a guy in the next room. The next morning he was seen checking out the lodge rafters to see which was strong enough to hang the snorer.
Incidentally, the largest brookie of the trip was caught by Bill, a new comer to the sport having flyfished for only a year or so. One afternoon while fishing the Little Minipi River, he sat down on a flat rock along the edge of the river to take a rest. He drifted a mouse patterned fly downstream and, don’t you know, a big fish hit it and he caught an 8 pounder! That’s ironic in itself but the real interesting part is that his guide had forgotten to bring his big net. The only thing available was a 5 gallon pail and after some effort, they caught it using the pail.
That night the more experienced flyfishermen were checking out that same rafter to string Bill up.
I developed a case of the shakes early on. For a while I thought it was the DT’s from perhaps drinking too much wine at dinner but it turned out to be caused by something else. Gary, Ron and I were the early morning risers and Gary usually made the coffee. That coffee was so strong it could get up and pour itself. The shakes disappeared when I eased up on Gary’s coffee.
We saw some interesting sights. One morning a moose passed within 25 feet of our lodge, munched a while and then he swam away to another area. On another morning there was a spectacular rainbow. One evening, we all piled out onto the lodge deck to witness the aurora borealis (northern lights) while being entertained by the melodic call of a loon in the distance. In Labrador, you get up close and personal with the northern lights and loons. Daily we were entertained by shore scoters, eagles and ospreys.
It didn’t take long for some of us to connect with the large brookies and there were 6 or 8 big ones in the 5 – 7 lb category caught that first afternoon by Mike Miller, Ron and Gary. Fish under 3 pounds weren’t even counted.
The weather couldn’t have been better with sunny skies and temperatures into the 70’s. The only time that we got wet was when we were returning to the base camp crossing the lake. Often the waves were good size and would splash over the bows of our boats drenching us.
I cannot speak more highly about the Cooper Camp on Anne Marie Lake. The 6,000 square foot lodge accommodations are truly outstanding, the food was great, the staff and guides were wonderful and the brookies really do average 5 lbs. If you are thinking about going, check out its website for prices, etc. (http://www.minipi.com). Allow yourself some time for there is a waiting time of 12 to 18 months.
So did everyone catch lots of fish? I’ll tell you about one who didn’t next week.
This Tuesday morning the first of three black bear hunting seasons begins. Hunters are reminded that last year there were some changes to the bear hunting seasons. The first season runs from Tuesday September 6 through Saturday, September 24. The second season runs from Monday, November 7 through Saturday, November 26. The third season takes place during shotgun deer hunting season, November 28 through December 10. The regulations are complicated when it comes to determining which hunting implement is legal in which season, so I have once again included a grid which was furnished by MassWildlife and may be of some help.
**Except on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.
Hunters are still advised to review page 33 of the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide to find out how and when to report the harvest and other important information. Remember, a permit is required to hunt black bears.
Also on Tuesday, September 6, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens statewide and runs through Friday, September 23. The bag limit is 7 and possession limit is 21. The hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset (except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset).
They may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge. Shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler.
Each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. Stamps are required for hunting ducks and geese but not for hunting woodcock. Non-toxic shot is required for all waterfowl hunting; no lead shot can be in your possession.
Migratory game bird hunters must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year. If you have not completed the HIP survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey.
This year the Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youths aged 12 to15 takes place on Saturdays September 24 and October 8. Check the 2016-2017 Migratory Game Bird Regulations for all of the regulations dealing with the youth hunt.
Steak & Lobster dinner dance
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be having a steak and lobster dinner dance on Saturday, September 17 at its clubhouse off of New Lenox Road, Lenox. Dinner will be at 6:00 p.m., followed by dancing to music provided by DJ Russ Davi. B.Y.O.B. The ticket cost is $25.00 pp and can be ordered by e-mailing the club at email@example.com
Their turkey Shoots are scheduled to start Sunday September 18 and will run every week until Sunday Nov 18.
Kids Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding a free kid’s fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.
Recently, Homer Ouellette of Pittsfield passed beyond the river bend at age 90. He was an ardent fly fisherman, perch fisherman and deer hunter. I should mention from the start that the comments about Homer also apply to his older brother Paul Ouellette of Lanesborough, who still fishes with us. They were inseparable and when you saw one in an outdoor event, you saw the other.
Homer was a charter member of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited who eventually became its president and a director. He was an early recipient of Taconic TU’s highest award, the Crooked Staff Award. He was a volunteer in the Atlantic Salmon restoration program, stocking salmon fry in the Westfield River. He helped establish the Friends of the Williams River group by conducting river surveys. He was an excellent fly tyer and fisherman and helped teach it at BCC in the 1970’s/1980’s. In fact, that is where I first met him. He was such a cool and knowledgeable fly tyer/fisherman that I immediately joined TU because of him. I wanted to be just like him.
I treasure the memories of him flyfishing the Westfield River at Indian Hollow and those times when we flyfishermen sat around the evening campfire after a day of fishing. We, listened to the soft music which emanated from his harmonica and enjoyed his stories of flyfishing in the past. It was from him that I first heard the term “fishing beyond the river bend”, when a fly fisherman passed away.
He was also a member of the tongue-in-cheek organization known as Perch Unlimited or PU! While staying at their cottage in Vermont (the Owl’s Nest), they would often ice fish for perch on Lake Champlain and caught many of them. Homer did his share of deer hunting out of that camp, also. (You may recall a couple of articles that I wrote about that camp last fall.)
He was an excellent bowhunter and for many years taught the bowhunting course for the Mass DFW. He, along with his brother Paul, received the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award. To quote the citation, “they have devoted countless hours to stream improvement, salmon fry stocking and bowhunting safety instruction courses. They have been instrumental in instructing thousands of archers in dozens of courses they have hosted as Bowhunting Education Instructors. Every sportsman can think of one or two people who helped spark their passion for the outdoors. Homer and Paul Ouellette have touched many sportsmen’s lives.”
A reminder that hunting seasons are coming up and the club is always looking for game for our dinners. If you want to donate your harvest, please contact the club at info@lenoxsportsmensclub.