For nearly 45 years, MassWildlife has offered paraplegic sportsmen and sportswomen the opportunity to hunt deer in several locations across the state during a special three-day season. This year’s hunt dates are November 3 – 5. Locations include Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (Harvard/ Lancaster), Quabbin Reservation (Belchertown), two properties in northern and southern Berkshire County, and Otis/Edwards Military Reservation (Falmouth).
MassWildlife staff work with volunteers to help place hunters in areas at several hunt locations. When a hunter successfully shoots a deer, the waiting volunteers assist the hunter by retrieving the deer, field dressing it and getting it checked in with MassWildlife staff on site.
Sportsmen and volunteers alike enjoy this opportunity to spend time together in the great outdoors, counting the hunt as successful if they are fortunate enough to see a deer.
In 1972, the deer hunt was held at the Phillipston WMA and the following year in the town of Rowe. The hunt location then moved to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in subsequent years. Due to access issues on the islands, locations in Williamstown and in and around Mt Washington State Forest were utilized for much of the 1980’s and 1990’s with an occasional location in Middlesex County. Since 2000, the Department of Conservation and Recreation has hosted a third site at Quabbin Park in Belchertown. In 2003, a partnership with the US Army at Devens (formerly Fort Devens) resulted in a fourth location for paraplegic sportsmen to try their luck.
Each year, approximately 25-30 paraplegic hunters sign up for the special hunt. In the past five years, these hunters have taken an annual total of 7-8 deer, amounting to a greater than 25% success rate. For a number of these people, it’s the only opportunity they have to hunt, an activity that is an important part of their lives.
According to MassWildlife, last year twenty five hunters with paraplegia participated in the deer hunt from October 29 to 31. Three deer (2 bucks, 1 doe) were taken, which translated to a 12% success rate for the 2015 hunt. Many hunters saw deer and several got the opportunity to shoot. This hunt has provided thousands of hours of recreational opportunities for paraplegic sportsmen and women since 1972. MassWildlife Biologist Trina Moruzzi has been the Hunt Coordinator for the past 15 years. She noted that volunteers are integral to the program and thanked them for their enthusiasm and commitment. DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden and his staff rarely miss an opportunity to help out. I also enjoy getting a group picture of the hunters for this column annually.
Licensed paraplegic hunters who have an interest in participating in this hunt should contact Trina Moruzzi at (508) 389-6318 or by email at Trina.Moruzzi@state.ma.us for more details. Contact her by October 24 (tomorrow) to ensure you can get your permit in time.
Trail Cam users help scientists study mammals
Trail cameras are used by nature lovers and the sporting community to catch glimpses of Massachusetts’ more elusive, usually crepuscular, wildlife. Hollie Sutherland, a graduate student at UMass Amherst, is studying the feasibility of using a citizen scientist network of trail cameras to study mammals in Massachusetts. Bobcat, mink, moose, and bear are among the seldom seen animals that Sutherland and her colleagues hope to learn more about. In the long run, this citizen science project aims to engage the public in providing photos and videos. Sutherland has developed a survey to determine the level of citizen interest in wildlife, who owns a trail camera, and how they use their trail cameras. She invites anyone over 18 to consider completing a short (5-15 minute) survey. You do not need to own a trail camera to take part. To take the survey, go to http://bit.ly/InterestinNature_TrailCamSurvey. Once completed, you will receive a free Massachusetts Bobcat desktop wallpaper image for completing the survey.
In its September newsletter, the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club reported that for the 13th year out of the last 14, its skeet team prevailed in the 2016 Tri-Club Skeet Championships. Heading to the Sheffield Club for the final leg on August 28 they were ahead by a scant bird. When the smoke cleared they added another half dozen or so targets to their lead. Bob Cameron and Gary Harrington scored 49 out of 50 birds, while wheelchair shooter, Frank Kline, showed everyone how to overcome adversity as he posted a score of 48. Jim Johnson, Tom Gansowski and Joe Ary all kicked in with 47’s, while Darren Coffy broke 46 targets. Shaun Sullivan, Bob Krupski and Wayne Slosek rounded out the scoring that gave them a total of 461 out of 500 targets for the day. Fancy shooting indeed.
Fly tying classes cancelled
Readers may recall from my September 25 column that the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation was exploring the possibility of having free fly tying classes beginning on October 12 at the hatchery in Hartsville/New Marlborough. Unfortunately, there was not enough interest and the classes will not take place.
Air pistol team
The American Legion Post 125 is sponsoring an air pistol course at its post at American Legion Drive in North Adams. Designed for ages 10 to 18, it will run the 1st, 3rd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Practice will actually take place at the post, thanks to a back drop built by students from McCann Tech. The American Legion helped in getting the equipment for the course. The course is billed as a way to develop positive life skills of responsibility, integrity and teamwork. It should help prepare the students for Olympic level competition. Instructors are Mary Angelo-Roberts, Pat Blackman and Tom Webb. For more information call Mary at (413)441-7624 or Pat at (413)441-1402.