In 1967 Neil Curtin, of Tyringham, and his brothers bought 60 acres of land in Monterey at the top of the mountain on the Tyringham-Monterey line. They built a deer camp that September. The first day of shotgun season he shot a nice 8-point buck at the old birch tree up on the side hill where he had decided would be a good spot. That was the very first day of the then new Massachusetts bucks only law, unless you had an antlerless deer permit. That birch tree was where Neil’s son John Curtin got his first deer a few years later. Neil and John’s uncle Peter Curtin are gone now, as well as the old birch.
But this year John’s 16-year old grandson, Colby Curtin, went to the old birch and shot a 175 lb black bear. He was very excited and a little rattled by the experience. “My father would never have thought a black bear would be shot at that spot when he shot that deer 50 years ago”, John said. (There were few if any bears around there then, in spite of the fact that the mountain is called Beartown Mountain.)
Also, later in the same day Colby’s dad and John’s son, Michael Curtin, shot another bear. Then to top the day off John’s son Mark Curtin, shot a 6-point buck.
John said that he got to walk about 3 miles that day and (got) nothing. “What I did get was a great deal of satisfaction and a lot of good memories!” said John.
Black bears typically enter their winter dens at this time of year and exit between March and April. Bears commonly den in brush piles, in mountain laurel thickets, or under fallen trees or rocks. If food is available, bears that are not pregnant may remain active throughout the winter.
Incidentally, black bears mate in summer and don’t give birth until January, after being pregnant only for 2 months. This isn’t a riddle, it’s delayed implantation! After breeding, the fertilized egg develops into a tiny ball of cells that remains free-floating in the uterus. If the female is well-nourished, the cells will implant in the uterine wall in November, and she’ll give birth to 1–4 cubs after 2 months.
In his December report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden noted that over 60 bears were harvested statewide during this year’s shotgun deer hunting season. He suspects there will be even more when the final figures come in. Some 120 or so were harvested during the September bear hunting season and 23 were harvested in the November season.
The harvest figures for the archery hunting season have not been released yet, but it appears to have been a very good year, perhaps a potential record year. That’s according to Madden. It’s also too early for the preliminary figures of the shotgun deer hunting season, but the Western District deer checking stations reported a “solid” first week.
In the above referenced County League report, Madden presented graphics illustrating the age structure and antler beam diameters for Massachusetts deer. In the Western District (Wildlife Management Zones 1 – 4), statistics show that 46% of the harvested deer were 1 ½ years old or younger; 27% were aged 2 1/2 years and 27% were aged 3 to 5+ years. Those are the exact ages at which MassWildlife wants our herd to be.
Illustrations were also presented giving the Western District average yearling male antler beam diameter. Measured in millimeters, they hope the diameters would fall between 15 and 17 millimeters. Below 15 millimeters would indicate that the food supply is not sufficient to grow the body and antlers which would mean the herd is in trouble. Here in the Western District, the average figure was 18.2 inches which exceeded their highest hopes. That is an indication of an ample food supply and a really healthy deer herd.
That’s why MassWildlife requires hunters to bring deer to a biological check station during the first week of the shotgun season, so they can collect this important information.
Incidentally, did you hear about the massive, 31-point buck taken by bow hunter Patrick Craig of Ancramdale, NY? He took the deer on state land in Columbia County and would only reveal that it was in the Taconic Mountains near the New York/ Massachusetts border. It weighed 265 pounds after being field dressed, which would equate to about 330 lbs on the hoof. It had an atypical rack. He estimated the deer was about 8 years old. “I don’t know how it was eating.” He said, “It’s back teeth were ground down to the bottom.” “This was an old buck – a monster,” he concluded. “One backstrap weighed almost 12 pounds.”
To see pictures and read more about that deer, google Upstate NY Outdoors. The article is written by David Figura, outdoors writer for NYup.com/ The Post-Standard newspaper.
Becoming an Outdoors Woman Deer Hunt
Congratulations to the nineteen women statewide who participated in the recent BOW Deer Hunt. MassWildlife thanks all of its “fantastic” volunteer mentors. Two of the women had success and dropped nice bucks. One of those bucks had a beautiful 8-point rack, definitely suitable for mounting. You can see pictures of the lucky women and their bucks by logging onto the MassWildlife Facebook page and scroll back a week or so.
The deer hunting seminar and guided hunt is designed for women (18 and older) who are new to deer hunting. In the seminar, participants learn about deer behavior, what to wear, what gear to bring on a deer hunt, deer management, sighting in a firearm and other useful tips. Then comes the guided deer hunt. No previous hunting experience is required for the seminar and registration priority is given to new hunters.
Reminder to gamebird and archery deer hunters
If you completed a MassWildlife log while hunting game birds or during archery deer season, it’s time to send them in. Hunters who submit completed logs before December 20, 2017 will be entered in a drawing to win a blaze orange MassWildlife cap or a Massachusetts Wildlife 1-year magazine subscription. You can email scanned logs to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail completed forms to MassWildlife, Attn: Game bird hunting log / Archery deer hunting log, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.
Fishing and Boating Access Maps
Anglers, check out the new Fishing & Boating Access Maps and give the Office of Fishing and Boating Access your feedback. Go to the MassWildlife web page and search boating maps and access. One of the new features gives directions to access sites via Google Maps. http://arcg.is/2iVtliH. The OFBA provides boat and canoe access sites, shore fishing areas, and sport fishing piers at more than 275 locations on coastal waters, great ponds and rivers throughout Massachusetts.
If you have been noticing some sawing and other activity lately on the Peru Wildlife Management Area off of Mongue Road, fear not. DFW Western District Staff is continuing habitat work in there this month. The area of work is a hilltop that was clear-cut in 2003. Their goal is to clear the area to reset the clock for establishing young forest conditions. Such work is very important in encouraging early successional growth which is good for wildlife and song birds.