Can you believe that some hunting seasons are here already? Bear season couldn’t come soon enough for the corn growers and honey producers. This Tuesday morning the first of three black bear hunting seasons begins. Hunters are reminded that there have been some changes to the bear hunting seasons and regulations since the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide (abstracts) came out. The first season runs from Tuesday September 8 through Saturday, September 26. The second season runs from Monday, November 2 through Saturday, November 21.
New this year is a third bear hunting season which takes place during shotgun deer hunting season, November 30 through December 12. The regulations are complicated when it comes to determining which hunting implement is legal in which season, so I have included a grid which was furnished by MassWildlife and may be of some help.
**Except on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.
Also new this year is the ability to hunt bears statewide in all WMA’s. MassWildlife felt that these changes were necessary to help manage the rapidly increasing black bear population statewide. Hunters are still advised to review page 33 of the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide to find out how and when to report the harvest and other important information. Remember, a permit is required to hunt black bears.
Also on Tuesday, September 8, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens statewide and runs through Friday, September 25. The bag limit is 7 and possession limit is 21. The hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset (except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset).
Migratory game birds may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge. Shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler which limits the gun’s total capacity to 3 shells and which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.
Each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. The federal stamp must be signed across the face in ink. Stamps are required for hunting ducks, geese, or brant, but not required for hunting rails, snipe, woodcock, or American coot. Non-toxic shot is required for all waterfowl and coot hunting; no lead shot can be in your possession.
All migratory game bird hunters are reminded they must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year. If you have not completed the HIP survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey. Your license must have either the notation “HIP Survey Completed” or “Waterfowl Stamp” when printed.
Massachusetts has a Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youths aged 12 to15 on Saturdays September 26 and October 10 for ducks, coots, mergansers, and geese. All youths must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with a valid Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. Only one firearm is permitted. Adults may not hunt and may carry firearms only when unloaded and cased. No license or stamp is needed for youths ages 12-14. A license and Massachusetts waterfowl stamp is needed for youths aged 15. No federal stamp is required but all other hunting regulations/bag limits apply. *****
The Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) is having a Basic Pistol Course on Mondays, September 14 and September 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM. The course costs $100. To sign up, contact Larry Karlquist at (413) 442-7807.
Also, the LSA will be holding an International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) match next Saturday. Participants are urged to register.
IDPA is a combat format competitive match that forces you to use different styles and methods to complete each stage. Your score is your time plus any penalties. According to spokesman Andrew Swanton, new shooters are welcome but should be well experienced in the use and operation of their firearms. This is not a match for a novice shooter but rather a club level match, but one should not feel intimidated that it is a high pressure match. Safety is the biggest concern and classroom orientation for new shooters begins at 10 AM.
Then on Sunday, September 13, there will be an IDPA Classifier. That is similar to an IDPA match but uses standardized stages to place a shooters in division based on their score. Watch www.leesportsmen.com for the schedule and announcements. *****
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having its Annual Steak and Lobster Dinner on Saturday September 12. It begins at 6:00 PM. Music will be provided by DJ Russ Davis. BYOB. The cost is $25 pp. Contact Tom Ferguson for tickets at 413-443-3224.
Incidentally, its turkey shoots begin on Sunday September 13. Tickets go on sale at 12:30 PM and the first shoot is at 1:00 PM. The cost is $3 per shot. There will be food from the grill. Contact Brady Kerr at 413-212-0894 for more information. *****
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding a free kid’s fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.
Incidentally, according to the Berkshire Record, the Foundation had a record attendance of 175 at its Lobster Fest at the hatchery last week. I was there and certainly ate my share of the delicious food (lobsters, raw clams and oysters, chowder, steamed clams and more, prepared and served by The Other Brother Darryl’s Seafood Market in Otis. Approximately $4,000 was raised for Foundation activities which include providing brook trout for local sportsmen’s club fishing derbies, scholarships and more.