As of noon last Wednesday, 82 deer were checked in at the DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, MA. Some 52 were checked in on opening day. That figure is significantly higher than last year’s figure at the same time. Some of those deer were bruisers with beautiful antlers and good body weights.. For example, Peter Derby shot a 6 point buck in Hinsdale that weighed in at 202 lbs. Thomas Wiencek shot a 9 point buck in Cheshire that weighed 198 lbs. These were field dressed weights. To estimate their actual live weights, multiply the field dressed weight by 1.26. So the estimated live weight of Derby’s deer was approximately 255 lbs and Wiencik’s deer weighed approximately 249 lbs. Nice deer, ey?
The season was only two and a half days old and preliminary harvest numbers were not available from the outlying check stations. We do know that the Mill River check station weighed three huge deer; a 10 pointer weighing 181 lbs, an 8 pointer weighed in at 186 lbs and another 10 pointer which weighed 157 lbs. There was an 8 pointer shot in Richmond that weighed 176 lbs, an 8 pointer that weighed 179 lbs and a 10 pointer weighing 184 lbs shot in Lee. There was an 11 pointer that weighed in at 164 lbs in Monterey and a 12 pointer taken off of Mt Greylock that weighed 174 lbs. These large deer were in addition to the “normal” sized deer.
DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden said that his office and the outlying check stations all exceeded last year’s harvest numbers for opening day. He attributed the high harvest numbers to the almost ideal conditions: ample snow for tracking and pleasant temperatures. On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was at the office, the conditions were less than ideal with pretty good downpours. Even so, the hunters were not deterred. Around noon time on Tuesday there was a steady stream of hunters checking in their deer. That kept Madden and Wildlife Technician Derek McDermott out in the rain most of the day checking them in.
Effective last year, a third black bear hunting season was started which runs through the 2 week shotgun deer hunting season. As of noon on Wednesday, 4 bear were checked in at the Western District Check Stations. According to Madden, this indicates that all of the bears have not yet denned up for the winter in spite of the large snowfall which occurred the previous week. He did say; however, that hunters can still tag bears online during this season, so he doesn’t yet know what the tally is.
With the hard rainfall and fog on Tuesday and Wednesday, much of the snow melted and tracking might have been more difficult. But there was plenty of mud and soft ground so it was still possible to track the deer.
The shotgun deer hunting season runs until next Saturday, December 10. If you haven’t been able to get out yet, don’t worry. There appears to be a lot more deer out there this year, possibly due to the mild winter we had last year. This year’s shotgun harvest numbers should be relatively high. After that season, the primitive firearms (black powder) deer hunting season opens on Monday, December 12 and runs through Saturday, December 31.
Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield is having its Coyote Derby again this year. It will run until the end of coyote hunting season which is March 8, 2017. Entrance fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded to the person who bags the most coyotes, the largest coyote and there will also be a random draw.
Licenses on sale
The 2017 hunting, sporting, freshwater fishing, and trapping licenses are available for purchase through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a DFW office. Good news! There are no increases in the license fees this year. In fact, there has not been a license fee increase since 1996.
At that time, Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey of Lenox, and the then DFW Director Wayne MacCallum calculated that with the $10 fee increase they imposed, they wouldn’t have to request another increase until the year 2006. It has now been twenty years.
How is that possible, you ask? Darey attributes it to several factors: good grant writing, division downsizing, modernization and priority. Darey said that during the downsizing, no one lost their jobs. One examples of modernization is that more and more pheasants are being bought, rather than raising then. This allows for excellent birds at lower prices because they are saving money on manpower costs. The Division is also utilizing more economical ways of raising the fish, too.
2016 Guides are available
You can now download your 2017 Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing and Trapping Laws (formerly called the abstracts) or pick one up at a licensed vender or at a DFW office. This year’s cover has a nice picture of a coyote.
Listed in the 2017 Guide are the following changes: 1) Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits are now set in the Spring; 2) Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamps may be purchased online through MassFishHunt (mass.gov/massfishhunt) when purchasing your hunting license and state waterfowl stamp and 3)There are new Learn-to-Hunt and Explore archery and bowhunting programs that provide unique opportunities for new hunters and archers to gain important knowledge and skills.