Love is in the air


Recently, MassWildlife has requested us to report local eagle sightings to Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist, and/or to DFW Western District Supervisor, Andrew Madden. Mark Thorne of Pittsfield has been observing and documenting the Onota Lake eagle nest for 10 years now, and the female has been the same one every year.


She was banded in 2002 (#T98) from the Hudson River in New York.  Now 15 years old, she may be considered middle aged as they can live up to 30 years.  The males have changed over the years, three since Mark has been monitoring them, and the current one has been with her since 2014.  He was banded (#WR8) as a chick in 2006 from the Connecticut River area here in Western Mass, making him 11 years.  They had been on eggs since the beginning of March, with both eagles sharing duties sitting on them.  Eaglets may have hatched by now.


Supposedly, they mate for life, but if one member of a pair dies or is killed, the other will actively court another mate.  However; there has been some contention over this nest from a third eagle.  No locked talons that Mark has seen, “just a lot of fast flying and screaming from all parties, ending with the intruder being shown the door to another part of the county”.  Sadly, Mark says, that’s how her current beau came into the picture, so we’ll have to see how this plays out.  He believes that “mating for life” depends particularly on how long the current male can withstand the challenges of other younger males.


Breeding Bald Eagles were extirpated from Massachusetts during the early 1900s. However, from 1982 to 1988, forty-one young Bald Eagles from Michigan and Canada were relocated to Quabbin Reservoir. Following this restoration effort, they were confirmed to breed successfully in the state by 1989.  Eagle numbers have increased slowly but steadily since that time. During 2015, an all-time high of at least 51 pairs of Bald Eagles maintained breeding territories in Massachusetts.  Around here, they were located as follows:  Westfield River (2), Deerfield River (2), Housatonic River (1), Onota Lake (1) and Lake Buel (1).    Population abundance in Massachusetts is limited mainly by amount of potential breeding habitat (i.e., number of large water bodies surrounded by mature forest and having shallow waters and abundant fish).


Fishermen should be diligent in proper disposal of fishing line and equipment, as eagles are known to accidentally ingest hooks. At least one eaglet has been killed in Massachusetts after becoming tangled in fishing line.


Be careful while driving, too. Recently, a very important bird in the history of Bald Eagle restoration in Massachusetts died after being hit by a vehicle on Rte 5 in Northampton. A veterinarian determined it had a broken back and spinal cord damage, and had to be euthanized.   Known by #W02 on its leg band, this 28-year-old eagle was one of the three first wild-born eagles to hatch in Massachusetts in modern times. Since 1989 when W02 hatched, at least 646 wild-born Bald Eagle chicks have fledged in the Commonwealth.

Poor bird, it died without a real name. RIP #W02.

TU Event

On Thursday, April 20, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have Ron Merly, Connecticut fishing guide and Author of Flyfisher’s Guide to Connecticut as its guest speaker.  He will be speaking about the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers.


An avid fisherman, Merly has been fishing the trout streams of Connecticut and on Long Island Sound for over 45 years. He has held the current Connecticut state record for sea-run trout since 2006. A self-taught writer, he was awarded first place in the Best Magazine Article category by the New England Outdoor Writers Association in 2009 and 2010. He has served as the president of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited since 2010, and has been a member of its Board of Directors since 2000.  He has resided on the Connecticut coastline for his entire life, and has flyfished all over New England, as well as in Mexico and Honduras.


The event will be held at the Berkshire Hills Country Club at 500 Benedict Rd., Pittsfield.  Doors open at 6:00 pm.  The presentation is free and open to the public.  Dinner is optional.


Earth Week

Earth Week runs from April 17 through April 23 this year.  Numerous communities celebrate an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. The most common practice of celebration is planting new trees.  Coincidentally, that is also school vacation week.


Friday, April 21, is called Earth Day and MassWildlife has planned a trout stocking event that day.  It will take place at Burbank Park on Onota Lake at 1:30 pm.  Andrew Madden, DFW Western District Supervisor, plans to liberate 400-500 rainbow trout into the lake.  The public, especially the youngsters, are invited to watch them release the fish.  DFW may allow some of the kids to carry pails of trout for release.  They may also have some stuff to hand out to the kids.


Trout Stockings

The following local waters were scheduled for trout stocking last week:  Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Hoosic River-South Branch in Cheshire and Adams, Hoosic River-North Branch in Clarksburg, Green River in Alford and Great Barrington, Williams River in West Stockbridge, Egremont and Great Barrington;  Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington;  Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Trout Brook in Peru, Green River in Williamstown, Greenwater Pond in Becket, and Big Pond in Otis.

What is the DER and what does it do?



The Massachusetts Division of Environmental Restoration (DER) was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetlands Restoration Programs. DER coordinates ecological restoration to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and restores important ecosystem services that improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts citizens.  DER works with many partners across a variety of aquatic systems, from freshwater to saltwater, to restore the ecological integrity of degraded habitats for the benefit of people and the environment.


In 2016 alone, the Division removed 2 dams and completed 2 wetland restoration projects, restoring 285 acres and opening 13 river miles statewide.  It advanced work on multiple river and wetland restoration projects that have recently initiated construction or will begin construction next year.  Once complete, those projects will remove 8 dams, reconnect more than 78 river miles and restore nearly 280 acres of degraded wetlands.


Using Commonwealth funds, DER leveraged $10 million in newly awarded external funds.  Volunteers worked in 72 communities devoting more than $100,000 worth of labor towards protecting and restoring our rivers and wetlands.  The DER provided technical support and guidance in more than 170 communities and across all 27 major watersheds.


DER, together with its partners, has restored in total over 1,800 acres of coastal wetlands and reconnected over 250 miles.


In Western MA, the DER was recently awarded a $179,620 grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.  The grant will build municipal capacity to upgrade culverts and increase the pace of culvert replacement in the Deerfield River Watershed.  The Deerfield River has an abundance of coldwater streams, which provide essential habitat for fish species. In 2011 many towns were hard hit in the region after Tropical Storm Irene.  This grant, in conjunction with other DER funds will immediately advance the design and/or construction of up to 6 culverts in the Deerfield River Watershed and, in time, will lead to many more replacements.


DER’s Streamflow Restoration program continues to work with municipal partners in Pittsfield to improve streamflow below recreational dams.  This past winter, DER installed a telemetry station at the Onota Lake dam that measures water level and assists with lake management and downstream releases to Peck’s Brook, a tributary to the West Branch of the Housatonic River.  Last fall DER also funded a survey of macro-invertebrates in Peck’s Brook, along with several other streams in the area, to better quantify changes in the aquatic community after modifications were made to upstream dam management.  Recent monitoring shows significant improvements in both streamflow and macro-invertebrate populations in the brook, despite 2016 drought conditions.


In 2017, DER will be working on 11 new priority projects adding to its total roster of 62 projects.  Here in the Berkshires, the Kitchen Brook Dam in Cheshire, has a provisional status of Significant Hazard.  It has an impassable obstruction on the brook, which drains part of Mount Greylock’s eastern slope and is tributary to the coldwater trout stream Thunder Brook.  That brook is where DER previously worked with the town to removal another aging dam and to replace an undersized culvert with a fish-friendly crossing.  Removal of Kitchen Brook Dam will open up 4 miles of high quality cold water habitat for Eastern Brook Trout.


The Kinne Brook Dam in Chester was removed in 2014, and now two undersized culverts will be replaced in 2017-2018.  The goal is to restore river functions to the high-quality cold-water stream which is a tributary to the Westfield River.  It is abundant with eastern brook trout.  The barrier removals were done in partnership with Trout Unlimited and others.

Several years ago, the DER removed a dam on the North Branch of the Hoosic River in Clarksburg.  Now, there is an Urban River Restoration Priority Project planned for the Hoosic River in North Adams.  The goal is to modernized North Adams’ aging concrete flood chutes with habitat, river and community friendly modifications while maintaining existing flood risk management levels.   So far a concept design for the South Branch Hoosic River restoration is in place including preliminary designs for a Phase I restoration in the Noel Field area. Soil, sediment and groundwater sampling was just completed in the Phase I restoration area. Concept design work for the North Branch of the Hoosic River is just beginning and will take about a year to complete.


The DER is a division which reports directly to the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.  Tim Purington is its Director.  It is one of my favorite state agencies because we can see tangible results which affects our lives and benefits the critters. I hope it continues to receive sufficient funding to accomplish it very important work.


Trout Stockings

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked last week.  Due to the rain and high waters, this schedule was subject to change: Ashfield Pond, Housatonic River (East Branch) in Dalton and Hinsdale, Housatonic River SW Branch in Pittsfield, Pontoosuc Lake, Lake Garfield, Lake Buel, Windsor Lake in North Adams, Onota Lake, Goose Pond, and Windsor Pond in Windsor.


Water Safety

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 weather. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks are required to wear life jackets from September 15 – May 15.  They also advise us to:  Make sure everyone wears a life jacket, follows navigation rules, such as safe speed and spotters, never boat under the influence and keep in touch by using cell phones, etc.  Don’t panic if you fall into the water.  Stay afloat with the help of your life jacket, regain control of your breathing, keep your head above water in vision of rescuers, and stay with the boat if possible

Pittsfield teenager will compete in National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships


The Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) recently announced that one of its junior athletes, Lena DuPont, of Pittsfield, has earned and accepted a first round invitation to compete in the 2017 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships for Air Pistols.   They will take place at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO on April 20 – 24.  Lena is 14 years old and an 8th grade High Honors student at TEC Connections Academy.

To compete is quite an honor, as only the finest junior athletes in the nation are invited. The event provides an opportunity for obtaining possible future shooting scholarships and a National Junior Team appointment, which allows them to compete internationally.  Standing shoulder to shoulder with the best shooters in the country makes this match one of the most competitive events in which Lena will participate.

She is a member of LSA’s Air2Spare youth air pistol team, and earned a Silver medal with two teammates (Riley Laurent and Cooper Maloney) at the 2016 Baystate Games.  They were taught by Air2Spare founders and coaches Cliff and Vicki White.  Berkshire Eagle reporter Jacob Mendel, covered these winners in his August 1, 2016 article entitled, “Air2Spare air pistol shooting club continuing growth after Baystate Games showing”. Lena was also featured last summer on WNYT (Albany TV) during the Olympic games

Lena then went on and won a Silver medal at the 2016 Progressive Position Pistol (PPP) Nationals in Ft. Benning, GA in her category for the Eastern Region, and placed 7th overall in the nation.

She is excited for this opportunity and says, “I was really surprised and happy to get this invitation. It’s the equivalent of a shooting Christmas for me and the other junior shooters who were invited!”

Incidentally, Lena is fundraising to help offset the travel costs associated with attending the championships in Colorado.  Her GoFundMe link is:  For offline donations, contact her mom Stephanie DuPont at (215) 668-7808 or email

Good luck, Lena!

International Defensive Pistol Association

The outdoor matches of the IDPA and Sheet Matches seasons at Lee Sportsmen Club are starting soon.   Refer to the LSA web site calendar for a list of all match dates.    You do not have to be a member of the Lee club to participate and new shooters are always welcome.  The IDPA is a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters.  Each stage is purposely different to force you to practice different skills.   You will need a 9mm or larger and 3 mags minimum.   The rules of IDPA are followed for safety and scoring. The matches are typically $15 to participate.  There are many IDPA videos on You Tube and they recommend this starter one:


Steel matches are typically strings of 5 targets repeated 5 times/strings. It’s best if you have 5 magazines.  These matches are rim and center fire pistol and 22 rifle friendly.  Shawn Sullivan is the best point of contact for IDPA and steel.    New shooters must attend a safety orientation prior to their first shoot.  Each match begins with a safety briefing.  Sign in time is 12:15-12:30 for afternoon matches.


Trout Stocking

The following local Western District waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:  Deerfield River (Buckland, Charlemont, Florida), East Branch Westfield River (Chesterfield, Cummington, Windsor), Housatonic River C&R (Lee), Farmington River (Otis, Sandisfield),  Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Richmond Pond, and Stockbridge Bowl.  The schedules were subject to change.

Monitoring our water quality

While the Clean Water Act of 1972 was established to help make our rivers swimmable and fishable, most of our rivers still don’t meet that goal, especially after a rainstorm, due to the pollutants carried down the storm drains to the river. That’s according to the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), who informs us that each of us has the opportunity to make choices that improve the water quality of our rivers and lakes.

Yesterday the HVA conducted a Water Quality Monitoring Training at the Bill Laston Memorial Park in Lanesborough.  Once a month, the trained volunteers will collect water samples at designated locations on Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton and the Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield. They volunteered for one morning, once a month, from April through October. The goal of this sampling is to determine current bacteria levels in the above mentioned waters. Segments of these tributaries are currently listed as impaired due to high bacteria levels. If the sampling shows that bacteria levels have dropped, these tributaries may be taken off the state’s impaired waters list. If you missed yesterday’s meeting, check with Alison Dixon, HVA Berkshire Outreach Manager at (413)298-7024 to see if you can still get involved.  The time commitment is 30-40 minutes per month.

Also, the HVA will be conducting Stream Team training on Tuesday, April 4 from5:30 to 7pm at the Mason Library, in Great Barrington, and Saturday, April 8 from  2:30 to 4:30pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  This spring volunteers will help complete river assessments on the Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River (Pittsfield) and the Green River (Austerlitz, NY to Great Barrington) Volunteers will walk or paddle a 1 – 2 mile segment of the river and record observations.

Our streams and rivers are also affected by acid rain.  Today, volunteers are gathering water samples from hundreds of streams and rivers across the state and delivering them to designated laboratories for analysis. This acid rain monitoring program has been ongoing for more than 30 years and good baseline data has been accumulated.  It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, President Trump’s new executive order addressing coal production will have.

2016 Berkshire County League of Sportsmen Award winners are announced


In the BCLS’s March meeting, Doug Frank of Lee was selected to receive its Sportsman of the Year Award.  He has been a long time member and Board member of the Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) and has always been there to help out.  He ran the Club’s pheasant program and was co-chairman of the skeet field.  He has always believed in promoting the shooting sports and became a NRA Certified Instructor in Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun and as a Range Safety Officer.


Recently, he became a NRA Certified Skeet Shooting Coach.  He has been a coach for the LSA Buckshots, which is part of the Scholastic Skeet & Trap Program, which he now runs. He is a Massachusetts Hunter Education instructor and teaches at the LSA and other places. Every year he helps out with the Youth Pheasant Hunt with his dogs.  He also helps out with the LSA Annual Ice Fishing Derby and Pheasant Fund Raising Dinner.  He always helps with the fundraising, whether at the Gala Dinner, Turkey Shoots, Raffle Tickets, and more.


Karen Karlberg of Becket was selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.  She was a long time member of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited and at one time served on its Board.  In 2005, Karen was the recipient of the Taconic Chapter’s highest honor, the Crooked Staff Award.  This award is presented to the person who best represents the ideals of TU, that being the conserving, protecting and restoring of North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds


Karen was heavily involved with the ASERP (Atlantic Salmon Egg Rearing Program) in the Becket schools.  She helped the Becket grammar school system establish the program some 14 years ago.  In this program 3rd and 4th grade students raised young salmon fry from egg to fry and released them into Yokum Brook in Becket.  She obtained the eggs from the Belchertown Hatchery drove them to the school, and took care of them during school vacations.  After the salmon program was ended, she continued her assistance with its Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program.


She was involved with the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) Housatonic River clean-ups,  taught flycasting to children during HVA events and educated youths about maco-invertibrates.  She was a stream guide for the Casting for the Recovery Program, a support and educational program for breast cancer survivors. She assisted with the MassWildlife’s Becoming an Outdoorsman (BOW) Program


She is involved with the Westfield River Watershed clean-ups and eradication of invasives.  She serves on its Wild & Scenic Committee and helps with trail clean-ups. She worked with the Nature Conservancy doing wildlife tracking and assessments.


Tom Macy of Sheffield has been selected to receive the Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award.  He has been a member of the Sheffield Sporting Club for 49 years, serving as President for 10 years, Treasurer for 32 years and on the Board of Directors for 46 years. He played a major part in moving the club to its current location and building the club house, 2 skeet fields and a trap field.


For years he led a 22 rifle club for the Boy Scouts and an instructional course for 5th and 6th grade students that taught gun safety and also gave them the opportunity to shoot a rifle, pistol and shotgun. Tom has maintained and repaired the clubs 4 skeet, 5 five-stand traps and set the trap field to be run by vocal release.  Tom has always donated both time and money to the Sheffield Sporting Club. The money he made driving students to high school sporting events was donated to construct the observation/porch addition to the club. He also donated enough money to enable the club to buy one of the 2 new traps last year.  This year, as in all past years, he has cleared all the fields of snow so members could shoot all winter.


Robert J. McDermott of West Stockbridge was selected to receive the prestigious John Zuber Outstanding Achievement Award.  Bob is a NRA Benefactor Life Member, Instructor, Training Counselor, MA and Utah Certified Instructor and a MA Hunter Education Instructor.  He is a member of the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, Lee Sportsmen’s Association and Agawam Revolver Club. He is the author of the Massachusetts Pistol License Course (LTC-020) that is taught to approximately 35% of new licensees in MA each year.   He teaches the Basic Hunter Ed course with the team at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association.  He has taught over 6,000 students.   In addition to teaching at local clubs, he has taught at Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, Cabela’s and others.  He also teaches courses to raise funds for the Stockbridge and Lee sportsmen’s clubs. He was taught about firearm safety and hunting by his father, and feels that it is important to “pay it forward”  to preserve our heritage and rights.


The late John Zuber was recognized twice by the BCLS ( Lifetime Achievement Award and the Sportsman of the Year Award) for his work and dedication to the sportsmen of Massachusetts.  He was also recognized by the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council and is listed in its Hall of Fame.


These richly deserved awards will be presented at the Silvio O. Conte Memorial Banquet at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club on the evening of April 15.   This year the event will also be in honor of George “Gige” Darey, recently retired Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman.  Tickets which cost $30 can be obtained from any BCLS delegate.


Trout Stocking

Leanda Fontaine Gagnon, DFW Western District Aquatic Biologist, informed us that they stocked Onota Lake in Pittsfield last Friday.  The weather and conditions have kept them from making any concrete stocking plans, leaving them to monitor local waters on a day-by-day basis.


It’s a world record!


If this featured picture looks familiar, it is because I ran it in my October 30, 2016 column, and also mentioned it in a follow-up article of Val Percuoco and her sisters in my February 5, 2017 column.  So why am I fixated on that fish?

Well, last week it was announced that not only was that 3 lb 8 oz white perch a state gold pin winner and the new state record, but it is also the new world record!  That catch landed her in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.  There, it was recently recognized as the Division 1 Rod and Reel 10 lb. Line Class World Record.  About the same time, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recognized the fish as the new All-Tackle World Record for White Perch.

As you may recall it was caught out of Wachusett Reservoir north of Worcester.   Check it out again, for its not every day that a world record fish is caught in Massachusetts waters.

Bald Eagles

According to MassWildlife, there are now more eagles nesting in Massachusetts than any time in the recent past, and they need your help keeping track of them. Please report eagle sightings to Andrew Vitz (MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist, Many of our nesting eagles are banded with color-coded bands that identify the individual, so make sure to look for these leg bands whenever you see or photograph an eagle.

According to DFW Western District Supervisor, Andrew Madden, there will be a big push to locate nesting eagles in our area, especially in North County.   They are particularly interested in evidence of nesting eagles (e.g., birds carrying sticks or sitting in nests). When there is evidence of a new breeding territory, DFW staff verifies the report as they monitor known nests. MassWildlife will conduct its Spring Eagle Survey on Friday, April 7. The Survey consists of coordinated teams of staff and volunteers who spread out across the state to check on historic nest sites and look for new nests.

According to MassWildlife, we have both Golden and Bald Eagles in the state. Both grow to approximately the same size, but the white head and tail of the adult Bald Eagle differentiates it from the Golden Eagle. Immature Bald Eagles may be confused with both immature and adult Golden Eagles.

The adult Golden Eagle is nearly uniformly dark without the mottling found on the immature Bald Eagle. Golden Eagles at any age may have relatively sharply defined, bright, clean white patches of varying size at the base of the inner primaries and outer secondaries on the wings and a clean white area at the base of the tail. All immature Bald Eagles have whitish axillaries and, depending on age, can have extensive, “dirty” white mottling virtually anywhere on the head, body, wing linings, and tail.  The Golden Eagle’s legs are feathered to its toes; the legs of the Bald Eagle are unfeathered.

Basic Hunting Course

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting (combination) license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.  There will be such a course at the Becket Town Hall at 557 Main Street, Becket on April 10, 12 and 15.  The times are: on April 10 from 5:30pm to 9:00pm; and on April 12 and 15 from 8:00am to 5:00pm.  There may also still be openings in the scheduled class at the East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club which starts also on April 10 (previously mentioned in this column).  To enroll call (508)389-7830.


Coyote Contest

Nineteen coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows:  Jay Fortier of Washington, MA bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 6.   Joe Trybus, of Lanesborough, MA got the heaviest one which weighed 44 1/2 lbs. Congratulations to both hunters.  Keep up the good work.


No trout stockings in the Western District yet


DFW WD Fisheries Manager Leanda Fontaine Gagnon went to check some access points during the week and because of the snowstorm, they have decided they were not able to start the stocking last week as planned.  Probably they will start next week.


Club events

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association and Ducks Unlimited will be having its 3rd Annual Youth Sportsmen’s Gala dinner and raffle on Saturday, April 8 at the Country Club of Pittsfield.  It is billed as a night of fantastic food, great raffle prizes, music and fun.  Doors open at 4:00 pm and dinner served at 6:00 pm. The price is $100 per person.   For more information, contact Virginia DuBois at (413)446-5404.


The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having its annual Spring Ham Shoots beginning today and running for the next three Sundays beginning at 12:30 pm.  The costs are $3 per shot.   You are encouraged to bring your shotguns and .22 cal rifle or pistol, as they have a few 22 shoots during the day as well.  Prizes include hams, gift certificates and some other items. The kitchen will be open for burgers dogs, sausage and a few other items.


The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club will be having a 450 Round Indoor Archery Tournament to benefit the Aim for Higher Education Scholarship Fund on April 8 and 9.  Click onto the club’s web site, events and calendar page to find out the times, prices, categories, etc.  There will be a Chinese raffles and auction.  There will be a spaghetti dinner at 6pm on Saturday and a pancake breakfast on Sunday Morning.


The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club will also have turkey and ham shoots every Sunday from March 26 until Easter. They start at 1pm and the cost is $3 a shot.

Most hunting seasons are closed


The rabbit and hare hunting seasons closed on February 28 and last Wednesday, the coyote and bobcat seasons also closed. And not a bit too soon for this attractive putty cat.. 

For some reason, we have been seeing an increase in bobcats lately, at least on the East side of Lenox. Jim Lahey of Lee was surprised last winter to see one stroll across his patio.  A few years back, there was one that made its home in our neighborhood on East Street.  That cat hung around for about three years.  We were pretty sure it was the same one as it had a very distinctive limp.   Neighbors Al and Martha Joyner got a kick out of watching it sunning itself on the top of their split rail fence. 

The handsome bobcat pictured was photographed on the lawn of neighbor Tim and Kathy Face also of East Street a couple of months ago.  According to Tim, she had two young kittens with her.  I wish they would visit our place and put a dent into the vole population that has been creating havoc in our vegetable garden.

For many years there was a bounty on them, presumably put on by the DFW in response to farmers’ complaints. Like foxes, bobcats like to frequent the hen houses, too.  The bounty system was ended in 1968.

If you see one of these beautiful animals, consider yourself lucky. There was a time when one would be lucky to see one or two in a lifetime.

Staying on the subject of wild cats (not wildcats) the bobcat’s larger cousin, the Canada lynx, has been sighted recently in Southern VT. One was photographed in Londonderry, VT, and biologists with the VT F&W confirmed the identification and visited the site to confirm its location.

Also, biologists suspect that a lynx was photographed by a game camera in nearby Searsburg, VT. It was photographed by a University of Vermont student who had set a trail camera out near a Rte 9 underpass.  Chris Bernier, a wildlife biologist for the VT F&W was thrilled to see the animal using a wildlife underpass that was created for the express purpose of allowing animals to pass safely under the road.

These were the first confirmed evidences of lynx outside of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in decades. Lynx are listed as “threatened” under the Federal Endangered Species Act and “Endangered” in the state of Vermont.  Are they headed our way?

Spring Trout Stocking  About 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from MassWildlife’s five hatcheries. These fish, coupled with the more than 80,000 fish stocked last fall, will provide some excellent fishing in the coming months. Stocking took place in the southeastern area of the state last week with other regions of the state expected to follow soon after. Anglers can get daily stocking updates at, or contact individual district offices for the latest stocking information.

The following are the 2017 spring trout stocking stats: Most of the trout will be over 12 inches, nearly half of them will be over 14 inches, more than 1,400 brown trout will be over 18 inches, more than 600 brook trout will be over 15 inches and more than 2,000 tiger trout will be over 14 inches.

Beware, ticks are bad this year

I had some free time and decided to take my beagle, Jacques, out rabbit hunting on February 27 before the season closed.  I was hoping to bag a bunny and have it for a meal later in the week.  It was so warm that day that I hurriedly switched out my regular hunting jacket for a lighter one and off we went.


After some time, Jacques kicked up a rabbit and he was hot on its scent.  I picked an open spot where I could get a good shot, and while waiting for the bunny to circle back, I could practically taste that fried rabbit already.   Feeling something crawling on my neck, I rubbed the area, but there was nothing there.  A little while later I felt something crawling in my hair under my hat. This time I removed the hat, got out my comb and there was a tick.  I looked down and there were five others crawling up my pants leg.


After killing them, I reached into my hunting jacket pouch to get the can of Permethren clothing repellent and plastic bag in which to carry the rabbit home.  Oh oh, they were in my other hunting jacket.  Well, I wasn’t going to carry that rabbit with ticks in my coat pouch without being sealed in a bag.  No problem, I thought, I’ll simply field dress the rabbit and leave the fur and ticks in the woods.  Guess what, my hunting knife was in the other jacket, too.  It’s a wonder I remembered to bring my gun.


Jacques was barking excitedly and the rabbit was getting close.  Now what?  Do I shoot it and hand-carry it back home?  No way, I could picture all of the ticks jumping off of it onto my hand and crawling up my arm.


The shotgun bead was right on the rabbit’s head, a chance for a nice clean shot, with no pellets in the meat.  Nope, I didn’t shoot it and let the bunny hop away.


You have undoubtedly heard of lucky rabbit’s feet, well this was one lucky whole live rabbit.


Before leaving the woods, I pulled 3 more ticks off of my clothes. When we got home, we immediately washed up.  Interestingly, he never had a tick on him.


Parting message:  Use a good clothing repellent and check yourself often.