The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) reports that the statewide preliminary deer harvest for 2014 (excluding Quabbin and any data not yet received) was 11,165. The harvest figures for the previous four years beginning with year 2010 were as follows: 10,699, 11,081, 10,938 and 11,413. In the Western District (WD), which includes all areas west of the Connecticut River (Zones 1 – 4), some 1,737 were taken. For the previous four years beginning with year 2010 the figures were 1,568, 3,417, 1,626 and 1,664. Interestingly, Zones 10 and 11 in eastern Massachusetts yielded over 4,800 deer in 2014.
The statewide preliminary archery season harvest was 4,456. Harvest figures for the previous 4 years beginning with year 2010 were as follows: 3,778, 3,765, 3903 and 4,474. In the WD, 505 were taken with the bow in 2014. The WD archery harvests for the previous four years, beginning with year 2010, were as follows: 466, 522, 453 and 577. Zones 10 and 11 yielded 2,381 in 2014.
The statewide preliminary shotgun season harvest was 4,742. For the previous 4 years beginning with year 2010 the harvests were as follows: 4,846, 5,349, 4,950 and 4,625. The WD shotgunners checked in 888 in 2014, which compares with the previous 4 years: 815, 904, 842 and 739. Zones 10 and 11 yielded 1,529 in 2014. Note – 852 more deer were taken with the bow out there than with shotgun.
The statewide preliminary primitive season harvest was 1,967. The previous 4 years beginning with year 2010 were: 2,068, 1,959, 1,958 and 2314. In the WD, muzzleloaders checked in 344, which compares with the previous 4 years as follows: 285, 251, 301 and 350. Zones 10 and 11 muzzleloaders checked in 893 deer in 2014.
The total harvested deer by all methods in the WD were as follows: Zone 1 – 234, Zone 2 – 448, Zone 3 – 444, Zone 4N – 432 and Zone 4S – 179.
According to the DFW, The 2014 preliminary harvest data for zones 1-5 shows low female harvest and a corresponding increase in adult male harvest, indicating that deer densities in these zones are generally increasing toward its goals. Deer densities in zones 6-9 appear to be within its goals. Densities in Zones 10 and 11 are still above goal, but more towns are increasing access to lands for hunting, which is one of the most important parts of managing deer in a suburban setting. Deer densities on Martha’s Vineyard (Zone 13) and Nantucket (Zone 14) remain significantly above DFW’s management goals.
While total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn’t provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone. The DFW Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be posted on the DFW website shortly after the annual deer review, so check back in May or June.
Hunters should keep an eye on their email inbox for the annual hunter survey. All hunters who included a valid email address in their MassFishHunt profile will receive a hunter survey by email in February or March. *****
Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Board Chairman George (Gige) Darey of Lenox, reports that the Board recently voted to create a Youth Deer Hunt Day. This will be a one day hunt for youths aged 12 to 17. It is scheduled to take place annually on the 4th Saturday after Labor Day. The youths must obtain a free youth permit which will be available at DFW offices and vendors. This permit will allow them to take a deer of either sex deer in any zone and is valid only during the Youth Day Hunt. All regular deer hunting season rules apply, such as the wearing of hunter orange, the use of shotguns, etc. Youths must be accompanied by a duly licensed adult mentor provided that a single bag limit is observed and only one firearm can be in their possession for the youths 12 to 14 years of age. Youths aged 15 to 17 must have taken a hunter education course and obtained a hunting license.
This new change should become effective this year, but has not been included in the 2015 Hunting and Fishing abstracts. It still will have to proceed through the regulatory process, but is anticipated that regulators will sign off on it. After that, more information will be forthcoming. *****
On Saturday night (Valentine’s Day) the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will host its annual Valentine’s Dinner Dance. Tickets which cost $25.00 pp, are available from all Board members. The dinner will be catered by That’s Amore Fine Catering and dancing to DJ Russ Davis. BYOB. On Sunday, it will be having its annual ice fishing derby on Stockbridge Bowl. Then on Monday it will have its 32nd Annual President’s Day Rabbit Hunt. Pre-Register with Ron Carr @ 413-442-5122 or sign up at the club. Weigh in at 4:00 p.m. There will be prizes for heaviest hare and heaviest cottontail. A venison dinner will be served afterwards and is included in the registration fee.*****
More than 425 plants and animals are recognized as rare in MA. MassWildlife asks that you consider contributing to endangered wildlife conservation on your MA income tax form this tax season. Look for line 32a. “Endangered Wildlife Conservation” on your state income tax form. All donations go into the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund, a critical source for the annual budget of MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.