Get ready for good autumn angling

Some 64,500 rainbow trout have been allocated among the five wildlife management districts across Massachusetts. The trout slated for stocking average a whopping 14 inches long and weigh one pound. “This is the best production of fall trout I have seen in my time with the Division,” said Dr. Ken Simmons, Chief of Hatcheries. “The hatchery staff should be proud of the fish they have produced.” The fish are grown at MassWildlife hatcheries in Belchertown, Montague, Sandwich, and Sunderland.

Trout stocking began the week of September 23 and is expected to be completed this week. A list of trout stocked waters is posted on the agency website (www.mass.gov/masswildlife). Water bodies stocked in the fall are underlined.. Western District waters normally stocked in the fall are as follows:

Ashfield Pond, Deerfield River, Littleville Lake, Westfield River (E. Branch), North Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Norwich Lake, Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Lake Buel, Windsor Lake, Big Benton Lake, Otis Reservoir, Onota Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl and Windsor Pond.*****

Woodcock hunting season began last Wednesday and will run through October 26. It reopens on October 28 and runs through November 16. There are no regulation changes this year; still a 3 daily bag limit and a 9 possession limit. Because they are migratory birds, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey is required. You can take it either on line at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt or anywhere hunting licenses are sold. Non-toxic shot is not required while hunting woodcock and shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged.

Duck and Canada goose hunting seasons open Monday, October 14 and run through November 30. They shut down during the first week of shotgun deer hunting season and reopen on December 9. The goose hunting season ends on December 17 whereas the duck hunting season ends on December 28.

A state and federal waterfowl stamp is required. When purchasing a state stamp, hunters are automatically registered with HIP. Waterfowl hunters must also use the 3-shot gun and non toxic shot. You are allowed to bag 6 ducks a day (possession limit of 18), but the breakdown of types of ducks is complex and you must refer to the 2013 Migratory Bird Regulations for that and other important information. You are allowed to bag 3 goose a day (possession limit of 9).

If you heard shooting near our rivers and ponds yesterday morning, that could be because there was a youth waterfowl hunt. Youths aged 12 – 15 could duck hunt yesterday as long as they were accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with a valid Massachusetts waterfowl stamp (no federal stamp is required). One firearm only. Adults may not hunt and may carry firearm only when unloaded and cased. No license or stamp is needed for youths ages 12 – 14, but are needed for youths aged 15. There will be another youth waterfowl hunt day this Saturday.*****

As expected, I received some correspondents from local deer hunters about my article last week on deer predators. Some just flatly refuse to believe DFW’s claim that coyotes don’t take the fawns until they develop their scents. Somel claim to have seen the coyotes grab the fawns as soon as the does dropped them. (I am one of them.) Coyotes know when a doe is about to give birth and follow it. Still others questioned why no mention was made of the toll the coyotes take during the winter (especially on pregnant does). A few have sent me pictures of deer being killed right on their lawns during winter.

Incidentally, DFW biologist Laura Conlee gave a presentation to the Mass. Fish & Wildlife Board at its meeting in Dalton last week. Here is some interesting information based upon surveys: Of the nearly 9,000 hunters who responded to their questionnaire, 13% specifically targeted coyotes. Most coyote hunting is done during the daylight hours and not at night. Of the daylight hunters approximately 62% use rifles of a larger caliber than 22 long rifle. Of those who hunt at night only about 5% use night vision gadgets. It is illegal to project a beam while hunting coyotes at night. It is estimated that there are about 10,000 coyotes living in Massachusetts

Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey commented that surrounding states have year round hunting seasons on coyotes, but not Massachusetts. Here they are considered a valuable resource and are allowed to be hunted when their pelts are most valuable. Incidentally, pelts must be tagged and reported.

In response to a Board member question, Conlee reported that Massachusetts statutes allow property owners to remove an animal which is caught in the act of causing damage, such as to their livestock. The landowner is required to submit a written report to DFW by the end of the year.

In conclusion, Conlee recommended that the Board not change the coyote season length, not change the current hunting hours, and make no changes to the use of implements or equipment. Any such changes would require a statutory change. *****
On October 19, pre-school educators are invited to a fun, practical hands-on 6-hour workshop, entitled Growing Up WILD, that focuses on early childhood education. The Guide is correlated to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and the Head Start Domains. Workshop participants will receive a copy of the Growing Up WILD guide and a certificate of completion. Project WILD is sponsored by DFW and the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation. Pre-registration is required, fee is $30. Registration deadline is October 9. To register contact Gayle Tardif-Raser at MassAudubon’s Pleasant Valley Sanctuary at gtraser@massaudubon.org or call (413) 637-0320 or register online at www.mass.audubon.org/pleasantvalley (click on Program Catalog).

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