Big bear taken in Lanesboro


On Saturday, November 15, Joseph Trybus of Lanesboro was in his tree stand bow hunting for deer when all of a sudden he spotted a large black bear approaching him.  Although he was after deer this day, he also had a permit to hunt bear.  When the bear was about 12 yards away, he let the arrow fly and made a good hit.  He was hunting not far from home and went there to get his 8 year old son Johnny to help track the bear.  According to Joe, Johnny is really good at tracking and he found the dead bear some 40 yards away from where it was hit.  Joe was delighted to spend this quality time with his son.

Joe relates that it took three men, a four-wheeler and a sled to get the bear out of the woods and check it in at Dave’s Sporting Goods.  The only place he could think of to weigh it was Sayers Auto Wrecking of Pittsfield where he weighed his truck with the bear and then without it.  It weighed 420 lbs and that was field dressed.  He said Fisheries and Wildlife people estimated the live weight of the bear to be approximately 510 lbs.  They extracted a tooth so that they could determine its age, but they “guesstimated” it to be around 15 years old.  It measured 6 ½ feet tall and its neck measured 31 inches.

Joe and his helpers then brought it to LaBlue’s Taxidermy in Adams where they had to work together just to roll the bear for the work to be done.  He will have a half mount done of the bear and when completed, it will look like the bear is walking out of a wall.  Richard LaBlue is an official scorer for Pope & Young and will enter it.  Wayne Rodd of Southampton, MA will record it with Boone & Crockett.  Before entry, the skull has to be cleaned and dried for 60 days before measuring.  The Pope & Young Club records for posterity scientific data on North American big game taken with bow and arrow. The Boone & Crockett Club is the authoritative source for data on native North American big-game trophies.

Incidentally, if the Trybus name sounds familiar, Joe was mentioned in my March 23, 2014 column as bagging the most coyotes (12) in the Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Derby.  His 12-year old daughter Samantha’s picture was in that column, too, kneeling next to 3 coyotes that she had bagged.  She took up hunting them because coyotes had attacked her dog in their front yard.  *****

Keeping with the subject of bears, Ralph Taylor, MassWildlife Connecticut Valley District Supervisor recently gave a very informative talk at the Berkshire Museum about black bears of Massachusetts.   He discussed the natural history, status, behavioral changes of bears, as well as human/bear conflicts, current research, and tips on co-existing with them.  Space does not allow me to cover the entire presentation, but here are some interesting facts about them which you may not know:

  • There are about 5,000 bears living in Massachusetts and at the rate that the population is currently growing, it will be at 10,000 in the not too distant future.
  •  Hunters currently take about 3% of them per year and that is not enough to control their population
  • Bears can live up to 30 years or longer but the average is 7 years
  • Massachusetts has on average one bear per square mile
  • When there is a good mast product (food), nearly 100% of the cubs survive.  In years where the mast fails, there is only a 20% survival.
  • In Massachusetts, the average litter size is 2 ½ cubs but litters of 3 or 4 are fairly common.  In fact, there have been two occasions where mother bears in Northampton had five cubs.
  • There are 6 bears living in the city limits of Northampton.  One of the reasons is that there is plenty of food there, thanks to the bird feeders and carelessly handled garbage. That city has recently passed an ordinance whereby if there are constant complaints from neighbors about those who are carelessly attracting bears, someone from the Board of Health visits them and offers advice to cut down on bear visits.  If the advice is ignored and a second visit is required, there is a $100 fine.  A third visit results in a $200 fine and all subsequent visits result in $300 fines.
  • Bears are frequently seen rubbing their backs on trees not because they have an itch but because it is a way to spread their scent which will attract suitors or scare away unwanted competition.

Gregg Massini, the 2nd Grand Slam sheep hunter from the Berkshires

Gregg Massini from Sheffield has become the second Berkshire hunter to have accomplished the coveted “Grand Slam” of North American sheep hunting.  The Grand Slam includes the Rocky Mountain Bighorn, the Desert Bighorn, Dall Sheep and Stone Sheep.  Massini joins Paul C. Carter from Dalton to have accomplished this extremely difficult feat.  Carter has two Grand Slams to his credit one of which was accomplished using a muzzleloader gun with open sights. It is believed that there are only 4 Massachusetts hunters who have ever accomplished the Grand Slam and Gregg is the 1,842nd person worldwide to have done so.   Bagging all four kinds of North American wild sheep has been recognized as a superior achievement in the sport of hunting


It took Gregg 22 years to get his first sheep hunting permit for Colorado and he got a Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep in 2006.  It took 8 years to get his next permit to hunt in Nevada where he bagged his Desert Sheep.  In 2012 he took a Stone Sheep in the Yukon.  Ironically, while there he learned that Carter had hunted there just the week before.  Massini completed the “Slam” in 2014 when he took his Dall sheep in the Yukon.


Massini emphasizes that you have to be in excellent shape to pursue this sport.  He gets into shape by climbing the local mountains carrying 60 lbs in his backpack, quite a feat for a fellow who will be 59 next month.  Like Carter, he is an excellent shot.   Gregg says his scoped 7 MM Magnum rifle is sighted to place bullets in a ¼ inch group at 200 yards.


Congratulations to Gregg Massini for his amazing accomplishment.


Incidentally, Paul C. Carter wrote an excellent book on the subject a few years back entitled Sheep Hunts: One Man’s Journeys to the High Country. ****


Paul just wrote another excellent book about deer hunting entitled Deer Hunts Through a Tracker’s Eyes.  It is a collection of his recounted hunting stories, all of which were chosen primarily for their entertainment value.  Having been a deer hunter for over 40 years, you can well imagine that he has accumulated a vast array of hunting experiences good and bad.


What I liked about the book is that he just doesn’t write about his successful trips, but also some with unsuccessful endings.   I also liked the fact that he wrote about some comical episodes, some blown opportunities on his part and some that were not his fault.  It is easy to relate to Paul’s experiences.  C’mon, admit it.  Who among us deer hunters hasn’t had a few comical incidents or blown opportunities of our own.  This book is written about the real hunting world as experienced by a seasoned hunter, and I liked it.


Carter’s preferred tactic for deer hunting is tracking in snow and he is mighty good at it.  In fact, a few years ago he wrote another excellent book about tracking entitled Tracking Whitetails: Answers to Your Questions.  Tracking is an art that I have never perfected and envy those who are good at it.  (I just don’t have the patience to take a step, stop, look all around, take another step, etc., to ultimately walk up on a deer.  With such a slow pace, I am apt to lose my balance and fall down.)

Another thing that I like about the book is the fact that most of his hunting is done in our own Berkshire Hills, predominately Windsor and he hunts with people that we may know personally.


One can learn a lot about deer hunting from this book.   It would make a great Christmas gift for that hunter in your family.  You can order this 272 page soft covered book through Paul’s web site for $16.99.


While on his web site, check out his other books.  In addition to the three mentioned above, he also wrote Great Shot! A Guide to Acquiring Shooting Skills for Big Game Hunters. *****


Common Loons, listed as a Species of Special Concern in Massachusetts, returned to nest here in 1975 after being absent as a breeding bird for almost a century.  Since then, MassWildlife has monitored them. Observations during this past summer documented 39 loon pairs on 16 lakes and ponds.  Out of the 23 chicks that hatched, 18 survived to fledgling.  According to MassWildlife, these fledglings will migrate to the coast to live in the ocean for the next few years, then will return to their natal areas and try to establish territories of their own.

As noted in my May 18, 2014 column, in addition to monitoring loon activity, MassWildlife has partnered with other agencies and organizations to improve their nesting sites.  To reduce nest losses on reservoirs, rafts were constructed using cedar logs and foam with vegetation placed on top to resemble a small island. The rafts were floated and anchored in loon territory. Because the raft floats, it protects the nest and eggs from being flooded or stranded.  This past summer, loon rafts were deployed at several reservoirs including one of Pittsfield’s.

Recently, I asked DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden if any loons had taken up residence on the raft.  “Not yet, but they have been checking it out.” he said.   Apparently loons like to check out the neighborhood a year or so before making such an important move.

Shotgun deer hunters take to the woods tomorrow

Shotgun Deer Hunting Season opens tomorrow and runs through December 13.  The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) reminds us that all deer harvested during shotgun season MUST be checked at a traditional check station.  Online checking will NOT be available during this time (December 1 – 13, 2014).  Reporting deer at check stations during these two weeks allows biologists to collect valuable data needed for deer management.

Hunters should know check stations and locations as part of their pre-hunting preparation. Many check stations have different hours for the first week of shotgun deer season. Some have additional hours, whereas others are asked to not check deer so that deer can be funneled to nearby check stations to increase biological data collection.  The Western District Check Stations and phone numbers’ where available, are listed below:


First week: DFW Western District HQ, Dalton (413)684-1646, B&D Variety, Huntington, (MassWildlife staff in parking lot); Lee Sportsmen’s Club, Lee; Mill River General Store, New Marlborough (413) 229-2663; and Ernie’s Auto Sale, North Adams.


The following additional stations will be added for the second week of the shotgun season:  Avid Sports, Pittsfield (413) 997-3600; Becket Country Store, Becket, (413)623-5500; Bonne Chance Check Station, Cummington (413)329-4001; D.A.R. State Forest, Goshen, (Call Ahead Only (413)268-7098)); Dave’s Sporting Goods, Pittsfield, (413)442-2960; Goshen General Store (413)268-7268 and Smitty’s Sporting Goods, Dalton, (413)684-2244.  Additional information on check stations such as addresses and hours of operation are available at or by calling the District Office (413)684-1646.


Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Manager urges hunters to make a plan in advance so that they know where and when to check in their deer.   Nothing worse than driving all over the County trying to find an open check station when you are dead tired and hungry.


For the non deer hunters who may be upset at seeing a part of a deer body displayed on a vehicle, please know that the regulations require it and that the hunter is not just showing off the deer.  The regulation abstracts stipulate, in bold print, the following:  “Until checked/reported, deer must not be concealed.  Deer or part of deer must remain open to view during transport and must remain intact or whole (may be field-dressed, but not butchered, skinned, or taken to a taxidermist for mounting).”


A couple of years ago while checking in a deer, an Environmental Police Officer approached me at the check station and verbally reprimanded me for not having the deer properly exposed, in spite of the fact that it was lying in the open bed of my truck.  The tail gate was closed so that it wouldn’t fall out.   He said that a leg or some portion of the deer should have been attached in such a way as to stick up and be more easily seen.  He was good about it and only gave me a warning.


Hopefully, you “more experienced” deer hunters have had a chance to get in shape before now.  Climbing up a mountain with heavy boots, winter clothes, gun, backpack, thermos bottle, bullets, etc., is tough.  That plus the adrenalin caused by the thrill of the hunt can be taxing on the old ticker.  If you are not in the shape you would like and can no longer leap over tall buildings, just take it easy.  Take frequent rests and drink plenty of water.  Let the younger hunters rush past you and get all sweaty.   Even if you don’t get a deer, be thankful that you are once again able to enjoy the experience.


If you do get lucky and shoot a deer, don’t kill yourself while dragging it out of the woods.  Once again, take frequent stops.  Bring your cell phone so that you can contact people to help you.  A phone can be a real lifesaver in the event that you get lost, too.  It goes without saying that you should let people know where you will be hunting.


Here’s hoping that all the deer hunters have safe and enjoyable hunts. *****


The Onota Fishing Club will be having its annual game dinner next Sunday, December 7, at the ITAM Lodge on 93 Waubeek Road in Pittsfield.  Doors open at noon, appetizers will be served at 1:00 pm and dinner at 2:00pm.   This year’s menu will consist of roast venison, bear, wild boar, turkey, moose, rabbit, a variety of sausages, chowders, chili’s, fresh and salt water fish.  Tickets cost $25 pp and are available at Portsmitt’s Lakeway Restaurant or by contacting Ray Westerman at 413-464-1853.  Proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to The Soldier On program in Pittsfield.  Limited tickets will be available at the door on a first come, first served basis.  They are really in need of venison and bear meat, so if you can spare some, contact Chris Porter at 413-496-0105 ASAP.    Any and all donations will be greatly appreciated for this most worthy cause.  *****


Nick Goldsmith, a Lenox native and avid hunter and fisherman, was severely injured on October 3 when he fell about 25 feet from his tree stand in the New Lebanon, NY area. He was airlifted to Albany Medical where he underwent surgery for fractured vertebrae.   He also broke his pelvis and fractured his heel and ribs.  After leaving Albany Med he spent two and a half weeks at Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Boston.


His friends and family have planned a benefit for him which will be held at the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club on Saturday December 6 from 1:00 to 6:00 pm. There will be a pig roast, lots of food, raffles and music. For more information and tickets call his aunt Wendy Lampro at (347) 891-4315 or Roy Goldsmith at (413) 637-1971.

2014 Paraplegic deer hunt results in a 26% success rate


According to Trina L. Moruzzi, Wildlife Biologist for the Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW), this year was another successful year for the deer hunt for paraplegic sportsmen. There were 23 participants statewide for the three-day hunt and a total of 6 deer were harvested statewide for a 26% success rate.  Many hunters saw deer which added to the success of the hunt.   In the past five years, these hunters have averaged greater than a 25% success rate.

The hunts are held at 5 sites: Northern Berkshires, Southern Berkshires, Quabbin Reservation, Devens Reserve Forces Training Area in Lancaster, and Otis/Edwards Military Reservation in Falmouth.

“I once again want to thank all of the volunteers, landowners, DCR staff, Environmental Police, DFW staff, and military personnel that coordinate to make this hunt a continued success.  This is a great opportunity that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many good people throughout the years that I have coordinated the hunt. “said Trina Moruzzi, State Coordinator.  “For a number of these people, it’s the only opportunity they have to hunt, an activity that is an important part of their lives”.

There were 5 hunters who participated in the hunt in the Northern Berkshires and one doe was taken by David Alderman of Petersburg, NY.  The other participants were:  Michael Noiseux of Berkley, MA, Fred Klausky of Raynham, MA, Dale Bailey of Clarksburg, MA and Shawn Mei of Baldwinville, MA. They all saw or shot at deer.

Volunteers who assisted in the Northern Berkshires hunt were:  Rick French of Phillipston, MA, Alex Daigle of Stamford, VT, Doug Mclain, of North Adams,  Tony and Bob Mei, of Ashburnham, MA, Stacy Sylvester, of Williamstown,  J. Sylvester, of Lovell, ME, Paul Noiseux, of Berkley, MA and Jack O’Brien of Raynham, MA. DFW’s Jacob Moris-Siegel also helped out.

There were 5 paraplegic hunters signed up but 4 took part in the hunt in Southern Berkshires:  Sidney Eichstedt of Lee, Erin Ferry of Deighton, MA, Gref Baumati of New Lebanon, NY, and  Steve Gladding from Westfield.  One hunter who had participated for many years could not attend.   The company where he worked had been bought out during the year by another company and that company would not give him time off to join the hunt.  Boo to that company!


Helpers there included:  Shaun Smith and Al Vincent, Brian Ingerson, Gerry Strock, Marc Portieri, Greg Arienti, Chris Puntin, Rick Thelig, Fred Lampro, Tom Dean, Matt Roach,, Paul Antonozzi, Jimmy Thomas and Chuck Pickard, all from the Berkshires or Northern Connecticut.   DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden helped out, too.


No deer were taken this year in the Southern Berkshires, but the food was great.  Chuck Pickard brought his trailer-mounted smoker/grill and a lot of friends, who own restaurants and businesses, donated food and condiments.  Other individuals also prepared food needed for the three day event.

On the day that I was there, this was the lunch menu:  Clam chowder, smoked pork roast injected with apple cider, smoked vidalia onion gravy, smoked baked beans, and potato salad.  Chuck did the smoking and roasting while Patricia Vollmer made the chowder and potato salad.  There were also several home-made desserts baked by supporters.  Six years ago Chuck started out just cooking one meal for the hunters, but he got “hooked” on the program and happily cooks breakfasts and lunches for all 3 days.


Space doesn’t allow a list all of the donors and supporters, but there were lots of them, many from Northern Connecticut.  I’m sure they don’t mind for they are not in this for the recognition.  “It’s about the hunters in the wheelchairs”, they say.


MassWildlife has offered paraplegic hunters the opportunity to hunt deer during a special three-day season since 1972.  It works like this:  MassWildlife staff work with volunteers to help place hunters in areas at several hunt locations.  They pick them for lunch and  then bring them back for the afternoon hunt.  They are picked up at the end of the day.  When a hunter shoots a deer, volunteers assist by retrieving the deer, field dressing it and getting it checked in with MassWildlife staff on site.

In 1972, the deer hunt started in Phillipston, MA and the following year in the town of Rowe.  In subsequent years the hunt location moved to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

According to Shaun Smith of Lee, (a 40 year volunteer along with Al Vincent) the late Ray McGill from Stockbridge couldn’t afford to go to the Cape so he petitioned and got the hunt moved to the Berkshires.  The late Gordon Leeman of Lee was a local game warden when they moved the hunt to the Berkshires and urged Shaun and Al to volunteer their services.   Dick Burrell and Tom Early who were with DFW would stay at Shaun’s house and do the hunt.   Ray LaGrant donated his camp on Beartown Mountain in South Lee and donated all of the food while Mrs. McGill cooked it.

Locations in Williamstown and around Mt Washington State Forest were utilized for much of the 1980’s and 1990’s with an occasional location in Middlesex County.  Since 2000, the DCR has hosted a site at Quabbin Park in Belchertown.  The Devens Reserve Forces Training Area in Lancaster, and Otis/Edwards Military Reservation in Falmouth have also been added.

According to Smith, the hunt started out with amputees, war veterans and handicapped persons.  Then it went to the strict translation of paraplegic which is a spinal cord injury resulting in the loss of two legs.  That cut the hunter’s numbers down greatly. He and the volunteers are hoping that the State Legislators will redefine handicap to allow our returning wounded vets to also participate in this hunt.

Hoosic plans to be revealed

Tomorrow from 1:30 to 2:30 PM a special announcement will be made about the revival of the Hoosic River. The event will take place at Noel Field on State Street in North Adams.   Guests will include State Senator Benjamin Downing, State Representative Gailanne Cariddi, Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin and Mayor Richard Alcombright.

In an October 28 news release, it was announced that the Board of Directors of the Hoosic River Revival (HRR) has chosen the location for the first phase of its restoration of the Hoosic River.  A mile-long focus of their revitalization work will be the South Branch, from Foundry Road to the bridge connecting the former Sons of Italy to Heritage Park, one of seven potential restoration locations recommended by their consultants.

The release went on and reported that “Although the project is still in the ‘conceptual drawing’ phase, it is likely that the primary restoration work will be on the northern half mile.  Once completed, this revitalized section will:  maintain existing flood protection; feature a much wider river with recreational opportunities; ensure a continuation of the Ashuwillticook Bike Path; provide access to downtown (North Adams);  the Greylock Market (renovated Heritage Park), and the future Scenic Rail; and include a large plaza with amphitheatre steps to the river and space for the North Adams History and Science Museum and the Hoosac Tunnel Museum.  Mayor Alcombright expressed his enthusiasm for the pilot project choice of the River Revival, “City residents and visitors will love the close proximity of all these exciting projects, and enjoy looking at our beautiful Hoosic River“.

Since its start in 2008, the HRR has participated in more than 40 public meetings, sharing information about the condition of the 60 year-old chutes, the benefits of restoring a river, various systems for maintaining flood protection, and options for the North Adams section of the Hoosic.  At these meetings, residents have consistently highlighted five qualities for the Board of Directors to include in any project: flood protection; a healthy, accessible river; economic development opportunities; neighborhood, historical, and cultural linkages; and overall improved quality of life in the city. The Board felt it had additional factors to consider:  cost, feasibility, Corps of Engineers requirements, available property, environmental damage, relevant City projects, the new 2030 Vision Plan, and the plans of the North Adams Partnership.

Board President Judy Grinnell praised the extensive cross-section of area residents who participated in this long-term process of deciding how and where to begin the restoration: “Our Board of Directors and Advisory Council members, the Mayor and his staff, and of course the people of North Adams deserve so much credit for giving this 2.5 mile, complex, challenging project such serious consideration for the past 6 years. There were many issues to consider in choosing just one section of the river to restore.  However, we believe the Board’s choice of the South Branch incorporates all of the primary goals highlighted by the community”.

“Funding the pilot project is the next big challenge for the River Revival.  Thanks to the persuasive efforts of our State representatives, Senator Ben Downing and Representative Gailanne Cariddi, there is $8,775,000 allocated in the 2015-19 Massachusetts Environmental Bond Bill for this first phase of the project.  However, funding is not assured.  To receive that State support, the project needs to be considered a priority by (Governor Baker); not all items in the Bond Bill will get that designation.”

(If I may interject, let’s hope that Governor Baker will remember the strong endorsement received from former North Adams Mayor Barrett in his pursuit of the governorship.)

According to Ms Grinnell, if these State funds are not offered to the River Revival, the non-profit Hoosic River Revival will continue its fundraising efforts with individuals, businesses, grants, foundations, as well as appropriate State and Federal entities.  She emphasized that the HRR has asked for no financial support from the City of North Adams and it does not plan to request any City funds in the future.

This scribe cannot overemphasize the important role that Judy Grinnell has played in the HRR’s efforts to revive the Hoosic River.  She even drove from North Adams to my home in Lenox to provide valuable information for a HRR article previously written in this column.  On more than one occasion she urged me to attend its workshops and presentations in order to gather information to inform the public through this column.  How fortunate for the North County folks to have such a strong advocate for the revival of the Hoosic River.  The same applies to the dedicated board of the HRR.

At the end of every memo or news release from the HRR is the following quote from Margaret Meade:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

I think we are seeing the thoughtful and concerned citizens of the Northern Berkshires bringing this to fruition albeit on a smaller scale. *****

Staying on the subject of revived waters, I received pictures and an e-mail from David Bell of Pittsfield who caught a “pretty decent” largemouth bass from Silver Lake in Pittsfield last month.   It measured 14 inches.  He went on and said that he has caught yellow perch, crappie and sunfish as well as largemouth bass on prior outings, but this is the first legal bass. “For myself I’ve had to really work to catch them, if one can call it that, but given time it can only get better.”   He said.  “Years ago when looking out over Silver Lake from GE Building Thirty Three I never dreamed I’d be kayak fishing on that body of water.”     

Thank you, David, for the great news.   

Late bear season opens tomorrow: record will grow



The November bear hunting season opens tomorrow in Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ) 1-9 only and runs through November 22.  According to MassWildlife, the majority of the harvest comes from the area west of the Connecticut River.  The season is split into 2 segments, including 17 days in September and 18 days in November.  The September segment is timed to coincide with agricultural damage (particularly corn) whereas the November season is a traditional time for hunters who choose to hunt hardwoods and remote ridge tops.


Most bears are taken in the September segment; however, according to MassWildlife, some good-sized males have been taken in November. MassWildlife estimates that, hunting takes about 5 to 7% of the estimated population and bear numbers continue to grow at a moderate rate.


This past September season proved to be a very successful one for bear hunters.  Some 202 bears were taken and that number has already set a new state record.  The previous record for both September and November seasons combined was 185 set in 2012.  Last year’s total harvest was 148.  Who knows where the new State record will end up.


If you wish to join the estimated 2,500 to 3,500 Massachusetts bear hunters, it’s not too late to obtain the required bear permit.  Assuming you have a hunting/sporting license, you can obtain it at any time prior to the end of the November bear hunting season through any license vendor or online computer.  The fee is $5.00.


Hunting is allowed only with rifle .23 caliber or larger, muzzleloader .44–.775 caliber, bows with a draw weight of 40 lbs. or greater, or revolvers .357 Magnum or .40 caliber or larger. Revolvers are only permitted during September season. Use of shotguns is prohibited (State law restricts slugs and buckshot to the deer season). Most bears are taken with rifles, typically a .30-06. It is illegal to “bait” bear or hunt them with dogs.


Incidentally, some bear, deer, coyotes and other animals may have ear tags or radio collars.  It is legal to harvest them.  If you find or take one of these animals, contact DFW’s Field Headquarters (508) 389-6300 immediately.  You will be asked for information that will help biologists determine the source and status of these animals and you will be asked to return the equipment to the DFW.


Hopefully, you won’t take up bear hunting unless you know that the bear meat will be consumed.   Properly prepared, it is delicious. *****


Did you know that eighty years ago the first duck stamp was sold? Since then, thanks mostly to hunters, the stamps have generated more than $800 million and helped secure over 6 million acres of wetland habitat in the U.S.  The Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) marks that day as a major milestone in the North American conservation movement, and says the 80th anniversary is worth remembering. “Duck stamps were one of the key funding mechanisms that brought many waterfowl species from vanishing to flourishing. Other bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species benefitted, too,” said the Club’s Keith Balfourd. “This should be a point of pride for all hunters.  It certainly is for Boone and Crockett, whose members played an important part in the history of North American waterfowl, including the duck stamp.” Here are some historical facts provided by the B&C: •    Waterfowl are abundant today.  But in 1901, few remained from an era of unregulated market hunting, diversions of water and draining of wetlands for agricultural purposes. Known mostly for its advocacy of big-game conservation, the B&C and its members went to work. •    Club member and Pennsylvania Congressman George Shiras in 1904 began a long crusade to place migratory birds under federal jurisdiction. •    In 1918, President Taft signed the McLean-Weeks Migratory Bird Act urged by B&C club members and others. •    The Dust Bowl years of the 1920s were a major setback for waterfowl.  The B&C campaigned for refuges to help populations recover. •    In 1927, B&C members launched American Wild Fowlers, an organization that would later become Ducks Unlimited. •    With partnership from this new organization committed to waterfowl, the B&C engineered passage of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929, establishing the federal refuge system. •    Major funding for waterfowl came in 1934 with the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act.  B&C club member and Connecticut Senator Frederic C. Walcott had established a Senate committee on wildlife conservation and successfully pushed the “Duck Stamp Bill” through Congress. •    That same year, the first duck stamp, illustrated by B&C Club member and Nobel Prize winning political cartoonist Jay N. “Ding” Darling was sold on Aug. 22, 1934.  The first stamps sold for $1 and 635,000 stamps were sold that year. •    Within five years, annual sales surpassed the $1 million level (equivalent to about $17 million in today’s dollars) and the conservation benefits have grown ever since. *****


The Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) will be having an NRA Basic Pistol Course on November 17 and 20 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM.   The cost is $100, which includes an annual individual membership to LSA.   Upon successful completion, you will receive a MA State Police Certificate for application for your LTC.  Call Larry K at 442-7807 or e mail him at


Incidentally the LSA recently held its elections and re-elected the following officers:  President – Shaun Smith, Vice President – George Brooks, Secretary- John Polastri and Treasurer – Frank Romeo.


The Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited held elections last week and re-elected the following officers:  President -Alan Gray, Vice President – Ron Wojcik, Treasurer – G. Richard Bordeau and Secretary- Mark Hoechstetter.


Congratulations and thanks to all.

Massachusetts’ “Green Bonds” are very popular


Treasurer Steven Grossman recently announced that the Commonwealth’s latest sale of

$350 million worth of Green Bonds has generated tremendous interest from both retail and institutional investors, with orders exceeding $1 billion coming in for $350 million worth of bonds. This is the second time that Massachusetts has sold bonds with proceeds that are dedicated to fund environmentally beneficial projects across the state, and it follows in the footsteps of the Commonwealth’s first-of-its-kind Green Bond sale last year.


The Commonwealth has identified four categories of projects that are expected to be

funded from the sale:

 Clean water and drinking water projects;

 Energy efficiency and conservation projects in state buildings;

 Land acquisition, open space protection and environmental remediation projects;

 River revitalization and preservation and habitat restoration projects.


In addition to those four categories, one large project has been identified that will be

funded with proceeds of the Green Bond sale, the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal

project.  This terminal will be the first facility in the nation designed to support the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects. As part of construction, the project is expected to include the dredging and removal of approximately 250,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment caused by industrial waste generated during the 1930’s and 1940’s as well as the creation of environmental and habitat restoration areas.


For more information on the Commonwealth’s borrowing programs, click onto


In his October 1 report to the Mass Fish & Wildlife Board, DFW Director Wayne MacCallum commented on the Commonwealth’s activity in the land acquisition area.  He said that a recently passed bond bill will leave the state “well positioned” for the future.  “Since the Patrick Administration came in (2008), the state added 25% to its land base.    Over 40,000 acres have come in during that time.  There has been a tremendous prioritization.” said MacCallum. *****

The Massachusetts DFW has announced the launch of its new Facebook page. By liking the page at, you will receive updates about MassWildlife activities, events, research projects, hunting and fishing regulations, tips on living with wildlife, and more. As a follower of the page, you will be able to communicate with them and ask them all of your wildlife questions. They look forward to building a vibrant and engaged community of outdoor enthusiasts who wish to share their experiences and ideas with others.

MassWildlife’s website,, remains our primary source for news and information about the agency, but the new Facebook page will provide yet another avenue for those who wish to stay connected to wildlife events, activities, and initiatives taking place across the Commonwealth. *****

MassWildlife wants your recipes for wild game or fish to use on a new part of its website currently being developed.   If you have a great recipe to share, send it (along with a photo if possible) to Astrid Huseby at, or mail the recipe and picture to MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Attn: Astrid Huseby, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. Let her know whether or not you would like your name with the recipe. *****

If you shoot a hybrid duck this season consider donating it to science. Researchers from the University of Washington are studying these hybrid birds and are asking for donations from waterfowl hunters across the country.  Ideally, researchers would like to receive the entire bird for genetic analysis and for the creation of study skins for future use, including the development of an illustrated guide to hybrid ducks.  However, in some cases a good photograph along with a tissue sample are also helpful.  For more on how you can help, and to view the hybrid gallery, visit *****

The DFW Western District Headquarters has hired a new Western District Clerk to replace Elna Castonguay who recently retired.  Her name is Debra Lipa from North Adams.  She hit the ground running having extracted her first bear tooth shortly after starting.  *****


Congratulations to the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club (SSC) skeet shooters for winning the annual Tri-Club Skeet Championship for the 8th time in 9 tournaments.  Sheffield SC placed second and the Lee Sportsmen’s Assoc came in 3rd. SSC top shooters who shot at all three clubs were led by Tom Gansowski.  He hit 146 out of 150 clay targets, followed by Joe Ary & Gary Johnston with 143.  Perfect scores of 50 straight broken targets were scarce this year with only 3 being recorded:  Joe Ary and Gary Johnston (SSC), and Lee Donsbough (Sheffield).


Incidentally, I don’t believe I listed the Stockbridge Sportsmens’ Club 2014 officers yet.  They are as follows: President – Wayne Slosek, 1st Vice President – John Mange, 2nd Vice President – Jason St. Peter, Secretary – Keith Whalen and Treasurer – Bonnie Bonn-Buffoni. Belated congratulations and thanks for your dedication and hard work.

Heck, as long as I am at it, the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen also had its elections and the following individuals were re-elected:  President – Mark Jester, Vice President – Mike Kruszyna, Treasurer –  Dan Kruszyna  and Secretary is me. *****


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 7, 2015.  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.  During the shotgun deer season it is legal to hunt coyotes, but be sure to check the special regulations. *****


According to Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Manager, all trout have been stocked out for this fall.  Most of our major lakes were stocked as well as the Deerfield and Westfield Rivers.  Great fishing can be had at this time of year.

Black bear are becoming a real nuisance



The owner of a Southern Berkshire camp (wishes to remain anonymous) was being bothered by a large bear this past summer.  It had broken into a camper but couldn’t get into the refrigerator because it was locked with a padlock.  On July 30, around 10 PM it tried to break into a tent and the owner shot it four times with a .357 Magnum pistol. (powerful, large caliber pistol) with no effect and the bear walked off. He called the Environmental Police Officers (EPO).


The next morning the EPOs tracked the wounded animal into the woods and put it down.  DFW personnel estimated the bear’s live weight at 515 lbs with the head alone weighing 35 lbs.  The skull has been prepared and is on display at the DFW Headquarters in Dalton.  It dwarfs the other bear’s skull which is exhibited with it.


This and other incidents have caught the attention of the Mass Fish & Wildlife Board.   In its October 1 Meeting in Dalton, DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden reported that there were nuisance bear calls in the Western District “virtually every day in July.” Likewise, EPO Major Wilton Gray reported to the Board that nuisance bear calls continue to be a problem and a strain on EPO resources.  They are working with the DFW to come up with a program to educate citizens, local community leaders and public safety personnel on how to respond and co-exist with the expanding bear population.  “They are here to stay”, he said “and we have to figure out the best way to handle them”.


The Board is pondering what tools are available to address the problem.  The best tools are bear hunters.  (This past September, a record 202 bears were harvested and more are expected to be taken during the November bear season.)    The Board is considering options such as allowing bear hunting during the shotgun deer season.  Some feel that most bear are denned up by then and there may be little effect on the populations.  Another option the Board may consider is allowing hunters to harvest more than one bear a season.


Madden pointed out that the vast majority of nuisance bear calls are coming from towns with camps and restaurants with dumpsters or from people who leave their bird feeders out when they are not necessary.  Usually they do not allow hunting on their properties. Although he has received many nuisance calls from Stockbridge; only two bears were harvested there during the recent bear hunting season.  This contrasts with the town of Ashfield, which had little or no nuisance calls but yielded 10 bears during the hunt.  He feels that huntable land makes a difference.


“There is a cost of doing business in the Berkshires”, Madden said, “and one cost is to obtain bear-proof trash containers or find other solutions for managing trash”. “We must remove their “attractants”.


Relocating this many bears is not viable for a couple of reasons.  First, it causes a strain on resources to find, drug and relocate the bears.  DFW and EPO staffs have others things to do during the summer months such as maintaining and patrolling the wildlife management areas, stocking fish, etc.  Secondly, bears can have a range of more than 50 miles and may find their way back to where they were assured of tasty birdfeed and garbage meals.   Madden thought that perhaps young bears can be “reconditioned.” It is easier for young bears to be retrained to stay away from houses and developed areas than older bears.  This is done through removal of the reward accompanied by aversive conditioning.


So why are they becoming such a nuisance now?  F&W Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey (and many sportsmen) believe that the problem stems back to Question 1 in the 1990’s, when voters banned bear hunting with dogs as well as using bait.  This uptick in nuisance bears comes as no surprise to them, and their numbers are likely to spread eastward.


Is this a minor nuisance we can live with?  Tell that to some New Jersey Rutgers University hikers. Recently, five hikers encountered a black bear in the woods that began to follow them.   They became frightened and attempted to flee the area.  During the confusion, the group became separated and as they ran in different directions, one hiker was attacked and killed by the bear.  The bear was subsequently euthanized at the scene. Perhaps this could have been avoided if the group had stuck together and made noises. *****


Instead of traveling to the Arctic to fish, maybe I should have stayed home and followed 9-year old Jayder Raifstanger to the Green River in Alford where he landed the above 22 inch, 3.8 lbs brown trout in September.  Son of Jay and Rebecca Raifstanger of Alford, he caught it on a 4 lb test ultra light fishing outfit. *****


The wild turkey fall hunting season opens tomorrow and runs through November 1 (note the increased number of hunting days this year).    Archery hunting season for deer also opens tomorrow and runs through November 29.  Check the 2014 DFW Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping for governing regulations.

One hundred eleven acres conserved by the Toole Family


Well, after 4 articles dealing with our fishing trip up north to Quebec, it’s time to get back home to our local woods and waters.  So anything interesting happen?  You bet!

Last weekend, there was a dedication and  ribbon cutting ceremony of the LFX ”Brian” Toole Wildlife Preserve at the Hampton Inns on Mollie Way in Lenox. Joseph Toole granted a conservation restriction (C/R) of the nearby 111 acres which provides for public access and preservation in perpetuity.  It is one of the few remaining vestiges in Lenox where rare and endangered species exist.  It is bordered by Mass Audubon lands.

The C/R was granted in honor of Joe’s brother, Brian who passed away in 1996.   Born in Lee, Brian was the fourth of nine children.  He dedicated his life to land conservation and beautification.   He worked for the National Park Service in South Dakota and Florida and was an accomplished arborist.

There is everything on this land – ponds, swamps, hills and mountains.  It is an important water recharge area as well as a recharge area for ones spirit and soul.  While there, one is at peace with Mother Nature who nurtures all kinds of plants and wildlife,  from the delicate damsel flies to the largest mammals in North America, such as moose, bears and deer.

This land will be protected in perpetuity with oversight from the Lenox Land Trust (LLT) as grantee of the C/R.  It is a wonderful gift for the residents of Lenox and its visitors.  This was one of the last projects that the late LLT Board Member Attorney, Sarah “Sally” Bell worked on.  Joe Toole was kind enough to lead a hike there for Sally and several Lenox Land Trust and Conservation Commission members several years ago.

Although preserved for passive recreation, Joe left no doubt in the C/R as to what activities are/aren’t allowed on the property.   For example, legal hunting is allowed, motorized vehicles are not.

Brian’s and Joe’s 98 year old mother, Mrs. Marie K. Toole, did the ribbon cutting.

What a wonderful feeling for the Toole family to know that this land will be kept in its natural state in perpetuity.  What a wonderful way to remember and honor Brian.  *****

Preliminary reports reveal a record 202 black bears were harvested by licensed hunters in Massachusetts during the September bear season.  The tally includes 186 bears that were reported online, 6 bears checked in at check stations in the Western district, and 10 checked in at Connecticut Valley district check stations. The previous bear harvest record was set in 2012 with 185 bears reported for both the September and November seasons.  So far this year, about 145 of the 202 bears were harvested in the Western District.

The largest bruin was taken in Becket by Stephen Bonneville of Becket.  It weighed 414 lbs field dressed.  DFW personnel estimate that the bear’s live weight to have been around 500 lbs.

Rifles, muzzleloaders, archery equipment, and revolvers were permitted during the September season. Bear hunters are reminded that revolvers are prohibited during the November season which runs from November 3 through November 22. Successful hunters can report their harvest online using the MassFishHunt system or take their bear to a check station.  There will be more to come on bears in next week’s column. *****

A lot of different hunting seasons are opening his week:  Duck and goose hunting seasons open in the Berkshires tomorrow and run through November 29.  Duck season reopens on December 8 and runs through December 27.  Goose hunting season reopens on December 8 and runs through December 16.


Pheasant, quail, and ruffed grouse hunting opens next Saturday and runs through November 29.  Cottontail and snowshoe hare season open next Saturday and run through February 28 in our district.  Coyote hunting also opens next Saturday and runs through March 7.


Some hunting seasons already in process such as raccoon and opossum hunting which opened on October 1 and run through January 31.  The squirrel hunting season opened on September 8 and runs through January 2.  Woodcock hunting season opened on October 8 and runs through October 25.  It reopens again on October 27 and runs through November 22.


None of the above species can be hunted on Sundays or during the shotgun deer hunting season.

Please refer to the 2014 DFW Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping.


In the last Berkshire Natural Resources News and Events Report, they mention that BNRC allows hunting on all of its properties.  They suggest that everyone wear blaze orange when hiking the trails or wandering the woods.  The DFW requires hunters to wear blaze orange while hunting its wildlife management areas.  Although not required of hikers and birdwatchers, they too would be wise to wear some amount of blaze orange.   *****


Fall is a wonderful time to paddle a canoe or kayak around our beautiful lakes.  MassWildlife reminds us that we are required to wear life jackets (not sit on them) from September 15 to May 15.  They recommend that all water enthusiasts, including anglers who wade in larger rivers, also  wear floatation devices especially now that water and air temperatures are cool.

Fishing trip turns into un-bear-able event



Following up on my recent articles about our fishing trip north to Quebec to fish in Lake Ternay,  Attorney Mike Shepard and I flew out on Tuesday, September 2 and the other guys: Mike and son Darren Miller, Carl Racie and Gary Hebert stayed to fish through Sunday, September 7.


Gary and Mike tell what happened next:


Gary said the remainder of the trip continued to be the “trip from Hell”. “Bad weather made for some nasty white knuckle boat rides.  Not afraid to say this old Navy vet was a bit nervous in some of those three foot swells wearing a half ton of fishing clothes.  My life jackets (plural) never left my hand.  We did manage some decent sized brookies up at the North Rapids one day.


We had a fly-out on Friday to a remote lake but it came with a huge price.   The day started off beautiful and we flew two at a time to remote lake where we took two canoes to some rapids.   In the afternoon we ventured to the other end of the lake and fished those rapids.  Mike landed an 8+ pound brookie, but that’s where the fun ended.


Weather was starting to look iffy, and we headed back to the boat.  That’s when Mike fell down and got soaked.   We make it back to the plane and the weather started to really turn bad.  Carl and I were first on the return trip but we had to abort it because of a wind change and an overweight alarm. We took the boat motor off the plane to get the weight down.


After a tree-top second take-off and subsequent landing on very rough water on Lake Ternay, we made it back to the lodge.  That’s when Joe (outfitter) said we would have to leave Mike and Darren in the Bush.  The weather turned absolutely nasty.  Heavy rain and forty mph wind kept the plane grounded.  Did I mention Mike and Darren had zero emergency gear?   And Mike was soaked with the potential for hypothermia.


None of us slept a wink that night and we never fished again.   To add insult to injury when I asked Joe about any contingency plan if something happened in the Bush, he had none.  Nobody would have had a clue where to even start looking for us.  Very interesting trip and we even paid for it.”


Mike Miller said:  “When we realize that the plane wasn’t coming back we started to make shelter.  We had fly rods, flies, wading sticks and Darren’s pocket knife.  We found a “porta-boat”, assembled it and stuck it upside down between 2 trees.  We broke off spruce branches and piled them between us and the wind to give us a little relief.  The night was extremely long but we got through it okay.   Our biggest concern was for bears coming into the shelter.  I changed into 2 lightweight shirts I carry in a dry bag for situations like this and we ran around the beach every hour to keep warm.  The waders and rain jackets really helped to keep us warm.


A bear showed up around 6 AM working the shore eating blueberries.  When he was about 75 yards away we yelled to get his attention and he just laid down on a rock for about 5 minutes then got up and started coming in our direction.  He did this 2 or 3 times until he was around 20 yards from us at the edge of the beach.  We puffed ourselves up to look big and charged him but he didn’t move.   Again he started in our direction and we charged and threw rocks at him.  He finally stopped, turned around and walked off.   He had no idea what we were.


The weather was pretty good when light broke (4:30AM) so we were confident that the plane would be coming shortly.  Around 9AM the plane hadn’t shown up even though our weather was still clear and we became concerned that something had happened.   At 11AM we decided there was a good chance the plane went down or was damaged so we put together a 5-day survival plan (we knew there was a 3 day front coming through with cold weather and snow from the forecast received the day before).  We fortified our shelter with logs and branches and caught some trout for lunch which we ate raw.  We positioned a canoe half way in the water to allow us escape if a bear showed up.  The smell of fish would probably draw one into our area.


We made the best shelter we could and decided we needed to get some sleep.  Our outlook at this point was bleak.  There were no other options except for being picked up by the float plane.  We left messages on our cell phones for our wives and kids in case we didn’t make it.


About 2PM we heard a plane and then it went away.  It later came back and flew over us and we saw that it was Joe’s plane.


Interestingly, the weather at Ternay was blowing and raining all morning but the weather 15 miles away was clear.  We even had the sun out at one point.  Prime example of what can happen with the fickle weather up there.


Joe did the right thing by leaving us.  There wasn’t any way he could have made another flight that day because he would have crashed the plane trying.  Afterwards he told us this is the first time in 38 years he had ever left anybody in the bush.”


What a story Mike and Darren Miller have to tell their children and grandchildren.  I’ll bet it will be part of their family lore for generations to come.