Local waters welcome 12,000 trout; 2 local lakes add new boat ramps

Local waters welcome 12,000 trout; 2 local lakes add new boat rampsl

And our Western District waters will receive about 12,000 of them. That’s according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. (MassWildlife). The rainbows will be 12 inches or longer. This brown trout that will be stocked state-wide will also be about 12 inches long. The stockings should begin this week and be completed by the second week of October depending on water temperatures. The following area waters are scheduled to be stocked this year: Ashfield Pond, Deerfield River, Goose Pond, Lake Buel, Laurel Lake, North Pond, Onota Lake, Otis Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl, Windsor Lake and Windsor Pond.

At the time of this writing, it was unclear as to whether the East Branch of the Westfield River would be stocked this fall. It was not stocked last fall because of warm water conditions and low flow. Anglers should be able find out by viewing the daily stocking reports on Mass.gov/Trout. Although Stockbridge Bowl is scheduled to be stocked, because of the toxic algae problem, anglers should probably check the web page anyway.

Incidentally, anglers can search for a specific waterbody or town by using the sortable list, or explore new fishing spots with the map feature.

Tight lines!

Lake boat ramp projects
Recently Department of Fish & Game (DFG) Commissioner Ronald Amidon, Office of Fishing & Boating (OFB) Director John Sheppard, and Assistant Director Douglas Cameron visited the Berkshires to celebrate the completion of two lake access projects: one on Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington and the other on Goose Pond in Lee/Tyringham.
The 40-acre Lake Mansfield is a half mile northwest of the center of Great Barrington. Its maximum depth is 16 feet with an average depth of approximately seven feet. Thanks to a previous donation from Carl Beling there is a boat access on the southeast side of the pond
Last Tuesday, there was a ribbon cutting celebrating the installation of a car top access ramp and adjacent parking area. The newly paved parking area holds about a half dozen cars. Because the lake is so small (40 acres), no motorized boats except electric motors are allowed.
The parking lot and ramp used to be a gravely and when it rained, the gravel and nearby road pollution got washed into the lake. But no longer thanks to the DFG and OFB technician Terry Smith.
During the winter months, Smith did all of the design and permitting work and during this summer he went to work helping to construct it. With help from The Great Barrington DPW, work was done on the nearby road to properly pitch it and the parking area runoff into retention basins and not directly into the lake, thus helping to resolve a non-point source of pollution there. He also was involved in paving the parking lot. By doing much of the work himself and/or in-house, it is estimated that he saved the OBF about 50% of the cost had it gone out to bid and outsourced.
Attending the ribbon cutting were of Great Barrington officials, DPW Chief Sean VanDeusen, AJ Enchill from State Senator Hind’s office, Town Conservation Agent Shep Evens, a representative of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Christine Ward of the Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force and others.
All expressed gratitude for the support given by the Town, DFG, Senator Hinds and Representative Smitty Pignatelli. Christine Ward discussed additional long- term management plans for the lake.
Later that morning, DFG and OFB officials, viewed the newly designed and paved boat ramp access to Goose Pond ramp on Cooper Creek Road. Goose Pond is a popular 263-acre pond located off of Goose Pond Road on the Lee and Tyringham town lines. Upper Goose Pond is connected to Goose Pond via a small but navigable channel and is 61 acres in size. Goose Pond has an average depth of 23 feet with a maximum of 48 feet while Upper Goose Pond averages 15 feet in depth with a maximum of 33 feet.
In the 1960s, the Commonwealth secured an easement to ensure public access. Up until this year, the graveled road had been in poor condition with holes and erosion problems. Once again, Terry Smith came to the rescue designing plans for correcting the erosion issues. He rolled up his sleeves and built a runoff retention system The town’s DPW re-graded the roadway to the ramp and with DFG funds, paved the road and delineated parking areas along the side of it. Thanks to Smith’s efforts, the renovation of the boat ramp access costs approximately half of what it would have cost had the project gone out to bid. (I think he deserves a raise).
In attendance were Commissioner Amidon, Director Shepard, Assistant Director Cameron, Smith, Enchill, town officials, lake residents and others. “Tyringham officials recognize the importance of this access and have entered into an agreement with DFG to provide ongoing management of the public access areas. It is a fantastic recreational asset for the public. It is good for people who live here and good for the tourism business as well,” said Tyringham Board of Selectman Chairman James Consolati.

“Ecotourism, or the outdoor recreation economy, has grown to be a significant focus in Berkshire County”, said Commissioner Amidon, “and fixing up boat ramps is just one way to serve both residents and visitors alike”. The DFG has done a lot of that in recent years having done boat ramp work on ponds in Otis and Richmond Pond last year, and Lake Mansfield and Goose Pond this year.
Update on the Ashuwillticook moose
Recently MA DFW responded to a report of a young bull moose weighing approximately 700 pounds on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Adams. Due to the location of the moose, their biologists worked with the Massachusetts Environmental Police to successfully immobilize the animal and transport it to an undisclosed rural location, where it was closely monitored until it fully recovered from the effects of the immobilization agent. The DFW thanked the EPOs, DCR, Adams ACO, and Adams Fire and Highway Departments for their assistance.

 

Want a night out?
The Berkshire County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is presenting “A Sportsman’s Night Out” on Friday evening, October 5 at the Stockbridge Sportsman’s Club from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.
You are invited to come out for a night of fun with family and friends. This is not like their Spring event, no formal meal, no live auction, just plenty of fun for everyone. Hot dogs, burgers, sausage, beverages, general raffle, silent auction, and gun raffles
You are advised to wear a flannel shirt to be entered in for the door prize.
No tickets will be sold at the door. You can obtain your tickets online at www.ducks.org or through a Ducks Unlimited member. Tickets must be purchased by Saturday, September 29. Tickets are $30 each or $250 for a sponsorship. They are limited to the first 150 people and they suspect that tickets will go fast.
Chapter co-chairmen are: JP Murphy and Joe DelSoldato (berkshireducks@gmail.com), Chapter members: Andy Atutis, Rich Lincourt, Ken Recore, The Regional Director is Ray Ilg (rilg@ducks.org).

Whip-poor-wills recovery and prescribed burning. Is there a connection?

During the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen meeting in May, 2018, Fish &Wildlife Board Member from the Western District Steve Sears reported that the Board had received a great presentation on whip-poor-will birds. They appear to be showing a very slight recovery in Massachusetts.
Whip-poor-wills, wow! I haven’t heard that bird since I was a youngster, probably in the 1940’s, when my father pointed out the call at dusk. According to MassWildlife, they pretty much disappeared from the Berkshires in the early 1970’s. Currently, there are only a few populations in Ma, mainly in the eastern part.
Until now, I had always assumed that the widespread use of DDT pretty much did them in, similar to what happened to the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and other birds. (DDT caused the birds to lay eggs with soft shells). DFW WD Supervisor Andrew Madden felt that there was more to it than DDT. If that was the main reason for their demise, then why aren’t they recovering quicker now that DDT is banned, like the raptors? He felt that it probably had more to do with their loss of habitat. He and Steve felt that possibly the prescribed burning that the Division is doing had something to do with their slow but gradual recovery.
They may be right. According to MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program biologists, whip-poor-wills seek dry, open woodlands with little understory adjacent to meadows and shrublands. The open woodlands are used for nesting and the adjacent meadows and shrublands are used for foraging. That probably explains why they were around my neighborhood back then as there were several 100+ acre farms. The cows probably kept the understory in the nearby woods down. Cows weren’t necessarily fenced out of those woods so that they could get into the shade on hot days.

According to MassWildlife, prescribed fire is an essential tool for managing wildlife habitats and natural communities throughout MA. Despite early spring rain and snow this year, they had a record season, burning over 415 acres!

For many decades total fire exclusion from all natural lands was general policy throughout Massachusetts and the entire United States. But, fire exclusion has resulted in the decline of numerous species and degradation of entire ecosystems.
Historically, fire played a fundamental role in shaping certain portions of the Massachusetts landscape. In particular, glacial deposits of excessively well drained sand and gravel soils tend to be associated with relatively short fire intervals. These soil types occur primarily in coastal areas and in association with major river valleys. Lightning-caused fires and/or fires set by Native people in these areas historically maintained highly productive wildlife habitats including heath lands, pitch pine/scrub oak barrens, and open canopy oak-pine woodlands.
Decades of fire exclusion following European settlement resulted in the decline of numerous species and degradation of entire fire-associated ecosystems. In Massachusetts, some vegetation and habitats have evolved with fire and are best maintained with periodic burning, including some areas that are home to state and federally listed rare, endangered, or threatened species. Prescribed fire is used to restore and maintain these habitats.
The primary concerns for all prescribed burns involve human safety and protection of built infrastructure. Planning is critical for every burn. Fire behavior and weather are monitored throughout the burn, and if the prescription parameters are exceeded the fire is “shut down”. Permits are required from the town fire chief and the air quality staff at DEP’s regional offices. The local fire chief can of course stop the fire at any time. There is a public meeting in most areas before prescribed burning is introduced. Abutting landowners are notified of fire dates, reasons, and expectations
Approximately 30% of the MESA-listed (endangered) plant and animal species in Massachusetts benefit from the conditions created and maintained by fire. Natural Communities that benefit from prescribed burning include Sandplain Grassland, Sandplain Heathland, Scrub Oak Shrubland, Pitch pine-scrub oak, Ridgetop pitch pine-scrub oak, Calcareous fen, and Oak woodland.

In follow-up to last week’s Deerfield River article
MassWildlife has launched a project to study brown trout in the upper Deerfield River. This spring, all 1,000 hatchery-raised brown trout stocked in the upper Deerfield were marked by clipping their adipose fins. The adipose fin is a small fatty fin on the dorsal surface (back) of the trout. Research has shown that the removal of this fin is the least intrusive, detrimental, or painful compared to all other fins on the body, and this work is performed by trained biologists with a specific research need.
These marked fish were stocked in their usual locations from Buckland to the Fife Brook Dam. This is the first phase of the project that will eventually mark all hatchery-raised fish in that section of the river. Marking of hatchery fish, together with other elements of the Deerfield River Brown Trout Study, will continue for several years. Anglers should note that for the next few years, there may be holdover hatchery-raised browns in the system that have not been marked.
This project to learn more about both the hatchery-raised and wild brown trout populations took shape through a collaborative process involving MassWildlife and Trout Unlimited. It included input and assistance from a number of other interested parties and individuals from UMass Amherst, US Geological Survey, local Deerfield River fishing guides, and local watershed groups. The study will yield important population metrics including abundance, mortality, and growth rates of individual fish. MassWildlife will use this information to better manage the upper Deerfield River brown trout fishery.
So long Bill Byrne, thanks for the pictures
For over four decades, the spectacular photographs taken by MassWildlife Senior Photographer Bill Byrne have brought sportsmen and women and other conservationists up close and personal with countless wildlife species from across the Commonwealth. Bill’s stunning images ranging from breaching humpback whales, foraging black bears, and secretive piping plovers to urban peregrine falcons, majestic Quabbin moose, and elusive timber rattlesnakes.
Sadly, Bill’s life ended suddenly and unexpectedly in May while spending his last moments doing what he loved: being outdoors, honing his skills as a photographer, and talking photography and wildlife with colleagues and friends.
He is best known for his striking images of bald eagles, moose, black bears, shorebirds, waterfowl, deer, wild turkeys, and many other species, thousands of which have appeared on the cover of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine and other agency publications
He will be missed.
Back home
With luck my wife Jan and I returned home yesterday after a couple of weeks cruising around the British Isles (Ireland, Scotland, and England) and Normandy. There is some good fishing for brown trout and Atlantic Salmon over there but we were on a cruise with a tight schedule and there was no time for fishing. Plus, the possibility of getting a permit to fish there was probably rare and expensive.
One day, we sailed on Loch Ness. I seriously thought about trolling a flatfish off the stern of the cruise ship and catching the fabled monster, Nessie, thus putting to rest once and for all the speculation as to whether or not it exists. But I didn’t have a large enough net, and they probably wouldn’t let me keep it to mount anyway.

Dogged perseverance by Deerfield River Trout Unlimited chapter pays off

Last fall, members of the Deerfield Chapter of Trout Unlimited began a study of the Deerfield River because they were pretty sure that it had a sustaining population of wild brown trout. They wanted to find out for sure because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in the process of re-licensing the Bear Swamp hydro-electric facilities which includes the Bear Swamp pump storage. The river system starts above Somerset Reservoir, then Harriman and then Sherman reservoirs to Bear Swamp and then to Fife Brook dam.
Water is pumped up to Bear Swamp Pond and then it is released to the turbines to generate electricity. That doesn’t impact water flows below Fife Brook Dam, but what does impact flows is amount of water which is coming from up above and then what is done with this water in the pump storage facility. How much can they manipulate the water to minimize the impact that is going on with the 17 miles down below? That’s what the FERC relicensing is addressing.
The Deerfield River Watershed is complicated, encompassing 73 miles of water with 10 dams. There are two different license holders involved, Great River who owns the operations above Fife Dam, and Brookfield who owns operations below Fife Brook Dam. The Deerfield River Chapter of TU is dealing primarily with Brookfield for FERC Relicensing. Brookfield receives its water from up above (Great River). The FERC relicensing study area is the 17 miles downstream from Fife Brook Dam down to Dam #4 in Buckland.
Every day there is a hydro event. The mandated minimum flow is 125cfs (cubic feet per second) and on a daily basis it pumps up to 800, 900 or 1000 cfs. During the winter months they run a lot of water (hydropeaking) which is considered bad for the environment and has a significant effect on fish. (There is no disagreement about that unless you are into white water sports).
Initially, the Deerfield River TU Chapter requested a trout spawning study. FERC denied it twice on the basis that there was no proof of adverse effect on the ecology on fish below the Fife dam. Brookfield maintained that this is a put-and-take fishery and that is what MassWildlife values. Fish are put it, taken out or are caught and released. They said that it is a vibrant trout area, so, what’s the problem?
Brookfield was also questioning why they should pay for this study when nothing that they were doing was harming the fish. It is not what Brookfield is doing at Fife Brook dam, they say, it’s what is happening up above that is having the significant impact. Blame it on Great River whose license comes up in 20 years for renewal. Consequently, the study became stalled.
Deerfield TU couldn’t answer the question of what the problem was and how it was impacting the fish. MassWildlife did not believe there was significant spawning in the Deerfield River and believed that any kind of spawning took place in the tributaries and not the mainstem. Well, the TU study proved otherwise.
A Deerfield TU board member read about what was going on at the Henry’s Fork River in Idaho dealing with the significant problems there because of winter flows. Brown trout spawn there in the fall, too. So, he brought information to his TU chapter and asked what they thought about that spawning study. They decided that they were going to go ahead with a similar study and pay for the $2,000 cost themselves.
They raised money on their own, approached the Mass/RI Council of TU as well as other TU chapters for financial assistance. (I’m proud that our local Taconic Chapter kicked in some money). Thomas & Thomas Fly Rod Company contributed $2,000. They hired Dr. Michael Cole, an aquatic scientist to lead the effort.
They didn’t know how much spawning was going on, but if they could prove what the power companies were doing was detrimental to spawning trout and quantify it, it would be a game changer. They had to partner up with USFWS, MassWildlife and the Connecticut Water Conservancy recognizing that they weren’t going to be able to deal with it alone.
About a dozen chapter members went out in late October looking for redds. (spawning nests made by trout). In one particular area, there were 40 redds! Each time they identified a redd, they measured its length, depth, sub-straight, the size of the rocks, GPS settings and marked it with a red flag. Once they found the egg locations, they went back and took samples in low waters. Due to water fluctuations, some of the redds were out of water.
They found 12 of the redds and 8 of them contained eggs. That indicated that there was a significant amount of spawning activity that was going on in shallow water. What the fish appeared to be doing was moving into these areas during high water to do their spawning and when the waters came down they abandoned them. They choose these spots, not because of sub-straight as believed, but also due to some upwelling of the water (40 redds were in one area). Many of the tail spills were completely out of water.
In the 7 ½ mile stretch of the river, volunteers found 101 redds, with 35 of them having eggs. (they only covered about 60-70% of the water so there could be other areas with redds). They took 35 samples of eggs and had DNA tests done, thanks to financing from Thomas & Thomas. All of them were brown trout eggs except for two which were rainbows.
Volunteers went out on a cold March day and found that some of those flags had moved and redds were lost. In one redd they found 80 eggs and 70% of them were alive, and they found eggs in various stages. They are now going to FERC with scientific evidence, and they need to know how much velocity is needed to cover these redds.
The Chapter proved what they wanted to prove and now agencies such as MassWildlife, USFWS, UMASS and others will take it from there. USFWS was “blown away” with the results. MassWildlife, which was originally of the opinion that this spawning was not going on, has gone back to FERC and there will be more extensive sampling by them.
They will be looking for more water releases during the winter months. In the summer months they have to have a certain amount of water to make mandated releases (for the rafters), but during the winter they have no need for them – but the trout do.
The Deerfield TU chapter definitely showed that hydropeaking has an adverse impact on trout. Their goal was to get the State and Federal resources to further study the Deerfield and its tributaries. They want to enhance the wild trout population, work with the state agencies for better management practices, and improve the wild trout population. They would like to see the Deerfield River develop its own surviving strains for stocking, rather than imports, and answer the question. “Can a substantial wild trout population exist exclusively in the upper stretches of the Deerfield River? Right now, they don’t know.
There will be updated information on this subject in next week’s column.

A classic fishing trip to the Adirondacks

Fishing buddy Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and I recently returned from a 4-day fly fishing trip to New York’s Adirondacks region. Our intent was to fish the AuSable River in Wilmington, NY, a small town near Lake Placid. We were hoping for good weather, good fishing and no mosquitos or blackflies. (We should have also hoped for no “no-see-ums”).
On the way up the Northway, I was wondering if anything would happen on this trip which would warrant mentioning in this column. Hopefully, whatever happens would be positive.
Every time I fish there, thoughts of the late Francis Betters surface. For 47 years, as the owner of the Adirondack Sports Shop and renowned fishing expert, he was at his desk tying up flies and offering advice to customers and fellow fishermen. He once told me that he tied and sold nearly 30,000 flies a year. He is credited for creating several great trout flies, most notably the AuSable Wulff (my favorite fly), the Haystack, the Usual and several others. The AuSable Wulff was named one of the top 10 trout flies of all time by Field and Stream magazine, along with the Haystack. Fran also wrote several fly-fishing and fly-tying books. He was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Hall of Fame in 2008 and passed beyond the riverbend in 2009.
Shortly after arriving and checking into our cabin (Wilderness Inn) Paul and I headed out to fish the river. Paul chose to head upstream and fish down to the car while I chose to go downstream and fish back. The river was on the low side this year so I kept walking downstream until I found good looking water, albeit on the wild and turbulent side.
Thinking of Francis, I chose to fish with one of his Haystacks. In fact, I believe it was one that he tied up for it was much better than the ones I tie. On the 3rd cast, the heavy current swung the fly immediately to the outlet rim of the hole and got snagged onto a rock ….or so I thought. When I tried to work it off of the rock, there was a serious pull that indicated that a big trout was on the other end of the line. After a serious battle, I was able to bring the fish to my feet and discovered that it was a beautiful brown trout of about 18 inches long.
Hoping to get a picture of it, I reached for my smart phone. Of course, it was in my pants pocket, way down deep in the chest waders. While the fish was resting at my feet in about 6 inches of water, I finally got the phone out to take a picture. I decided to lay the reel and rod next to the fish so that one could get a rough idea of the its size. But doing that caused the fish to dart away and snap the leader. It didn’t know it was free and lingered a while, allowing me to take pictures of it. After it swam away, I distinctly remember saying, “Here’s your fly back, Francis”.
Perhaps that’s the story for this column.
The following night, Paul was fishing with a Blue Winged Olive emerger fly when he hooked into a lunker. After a lengthy battle, with the fish swimming all around that pool, he finally landed it. It also was an 18-inch brown trout. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera with us, but I can attest to its size. It fought so hard that I thought I would have to step out of the pool so that it wouldn’t swim near and wrap the line around me. An 18-inch wild brown trout doesn’t come by frequently. In fact, I can probably count the number of them caught in my lifetime on one hand.
Perhaps that would be the story for this column.
On this trip, Paul and I decided to explore the North Branch of the Saranac River to see what the fishing was like there. Neither of us had ever fished the stretch near Clayburg, NY. We spent a day and a half there catching mainly small wild brook and brown trout.
On the second day there, we stopped for a lunch break in a fishing access area. While there, a young girl, approximately 13 years old rode by on a bike, and she had a fishing pole. After lunch, Paul and I separated, this time he headed downstream and I went upstream to a bridge. While approaching it, I saw a bike along the side of the road. It was that girl’s bike and she was fishing where I wanted to go.
From the bridge, I could see that she was fishing with an inexpensive spinning rod and a Zebco reel. After saying “hi” to her and finding out which direction she was going to fish (she was going to fish there under the bridge), I went downstream about 120 feet to give her space. What enfolded then was a scene reminiscent of an old Ed Zern caricature.
All of a sudden, I heard a terrific splash and looking toward the sound, saw the girl fighting a large brown trout which once again jumped a foot in the air. Her inexpensive rod was seriously bent, but she fought and subsequently beached that trout like a pro. I shouted congratulations and commended her for the great job of landing it. “What is it, about 15 inches?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said “It’s the biggest fish I ever caught”. Oh, how I wished I had the camera there.
Here I was fishing out in the middle of the river with thousands of dollars worth of equipment consisting of an expensive fly rod, reel, chest waders, wading staff, wooden net, a fishing vest with several hundred trout flies in it and a myriad of other gadgets hanging from it, and catching nothing. And there was this young girl who arrived by bicycle, dressed in shorts and sneakers, fishing from the bank with an inexpensive fishing pole, reel and worms and catching that big fish. How classic is that?
The girl showed up again later that day, this time with her boyfriend who also arrived by bike, a lad of about 14 years old. When Paul saw them, he conceded his fishing spot to them and commented on how she was now famous in the area, having caught that big brown trout (which ultimately measured out to be 14 ½ inches). She was beaming from ear to ear.
After lauding her great accomplishment, I commented to the boy that he was going to have to work hard to catch a bigger trout than her’s. “Well”, he said, “I taught her how to fish!” Paul, picked up on the lad’s wounded pride, immediately said, “You sure did a great job of teaching!
This true story is classic and deserves to be in this week’s column. Wouldn’t you agree?
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818

 

Ronald R. Smith, Turkey Hunting History Maker1980

 

Wild turkey hunting began in Massachusetts in 1980 and the following year, on the second day of the season, a little bit of Massachusetts turkey hunting history took place right here in the Berkshires. In the predawn darkness, Ron Smith, then of Lee, now of Pittsfield, MA, was carefully picking his way through thick brush and trees down a wooded mountainside to an area where he hoped to find a roosting tom turkey. He imitated the call of a barred owl (a turkey predator) and a tom responded with a loud gobble about 100 yards away.

After waiting until it was light enough to find a good spot to stand, Ron selected an area where there was a large tree behind him to break his outline and disguise his presence. He was also fully camouflaged, including his face, hands and bow. He was somewhat familiar with the area as he had done some pre-season scouting there. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he called again, this time clucking quietly to imitate the soft “tree call” of a roosting hen. The tom responded immediately, rapidly gobbling several times. Ron cautioned himself not to call too frequently, which could cause the tom to become suspicious and disappear.

He said that he was “unusually calm”, probably because he had accepted the probability that any chance for bagging a wild turkey with a bow and arrow was just about nil. The fact that he had practiced for months did little to restore his confidence. A wild turkey is capable of spotting a slight finger movement at 80 yards, and if they do, they are out of there.

Several hundred yards further off, another roosting male started gobbling resulting in fierce competition. Each bird tried to outdo the other in his attempt to lure the hen by calling continuously. Ron’s concern mounted because other hunters might hear the birds, arrive at the scene and unintentionally ruin any chances that he may have at taking a tom.

He could hear the flapping of wings as the nearest tom left the tree and landed behind some thick brush about 80 yards away. The tom double and tripled gobbled and paraded back and forth waiting impatiently for the hen to come to him. Ron turned his head, covered his mouth and issued a few muffled yelps with the hope that the tom would think the hen was losing interest and was wandering off.

The tom stopped calling and Ron knew he was coming in. He raised his 57 pound draw Wing Impact compound bow to a shooting position and nocked the arrow. Seconds later, there was movement some 40 yards to his right. The bird had partially circled him and was proceeding cautiously, with head turning and stretching and eyes searching for the hen. He was heading for a nearby clearing. Ron had specifically chosen that opening right in front of him knowing that turkeys seldom venture into bushy areas where vision is limited.

Now the excitement suddenly his Ron, his mouth became dry and his chest started pounding and his arms started to shake. It appeared as though the bird’s piercing eyes were staring directly into his. About 12 yards away, off to the right, the bird stopped behind a large tree. That gave Ron the opportunity to adjust his shooting position and draw his bow. After a while, his head appeared, his black eyes penetrated Ron’s eyes and then withdrew his head and disappeared. There was silence. Then came a strange hissing and drumming sound and the tom stepped out strutting in full display. Ron let the arrow fly and it was over.

Then he sat down to control his shaking. He was a history maker for he had taken a turkey with a bow, the first turkey bagged with a bow and arrow in Massachusetts modern times.
The bird weighed 17.7 lbs, had 1 ½ inch spurs and a 9 ½ inch beard.

The late Ted Giddings, Editor for the Berkshire Eagle, covered the story and had the attached picture of Ron and the tom on the front page of the May 6, Berkshire Eagle, with the headline. “Lee man sets modern first by killing turkey with bow”. Ron also wrote about his experience and his story was featured in the May 1983 issue of Bowhunter, the National Magazine for the Hunting Archer.

Ron has always been an avid sportsman. Over the years he has served as President of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen and still is a delegate to the League. He was named Sportsman of the Year in 1995. He was secretary of the Lee Sportsmen’s Association for over 30 years and taught Bowhunting Eucation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for many years. He has served as President of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited. (In fact, he signed my diploma for passing a fly tying course back in 1982).

Now, at the age of 83, Ron is still an avid sportsman. He still bowhunts for deer and turkeys and goes out west to hunt elk in Montana, although lately, he hunts for elk with a camera. He is a member of several other sportsmen’s clubs, and, lest I forget, he is the elder statesman of the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out), a group which gathers for lunch weekly.

Father, daughter have great spring turkey hunting season

Say, remember my May 6, 2018 column wherein I mentioned the Youth Turkey Hunting results? In that article, I mentioned that Grace Krzanik of Adams, while being mentored by her dad Scott bagged an 18 lbs bird. Well guess what? On May 12 Grace and Scott went hunting again and she shot her second tom at 5:19 am. As they were heading back to the truck, she heard gobbles, so they went back to where she shot hers and set up again. Two more came in behind them and Scott shot his second bird of the season at 6:30am. Both father and daughter tagged out for turkey season.

Incidentally, Spring Turkey Hunting Season ended yesterday.

Trout stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Clesson Brook and Upper Branch of Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, Greenwater Pond in Becket, Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, Montgomery, Middlefield, Russell, Savoy, Worthington, Cummington, Chesterfield and Windsor; Deerfield River in Buckland, Florida and Charlemont; Cold River in Savoy, Florida and Charlemont, Chickley River in Hawley and Charlemont, Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, North Pond in Florida, Pontoosuc Lake in Lanesborough, Laurel Lake in Lee, Housatonic River (C/R) in Lee and Stockbridge, Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge, Windsor Pond in Windsor, Lake Garfield in Monterey, Otis Reservoir in Otis, and Richmond Pond in Richmond.

Firearms Course
On Saturday, June 2, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association will hold a Multi-License Firearms Course from 9am until 4pm for a proprietary License-To-Carry course that qualifies for licenses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, and Utah. (those not participating in the Utah class can expect to be completed at approximately 3pm) This comprehensive one-day course includes information for federal and state firearm laws, operation and safe handling of firearms, shooting fundamentals, care and cleaning, concealed carry methods, a live fire session on the pistol range, and much more.
Seating is limited to the first 25 students who register. Course fee is $150, or you can take only the MA & CT portion for $120 with live fire, or take only the Utah portion for $100 without live fire. State license application fees and processing are not included. Participants will receive a course certificate, application forms, an informative student resource CD, and supporting documents. All firearms, ammunition, and eye and ear protection will be provided, including lunch as well.
For more information, contact Robert McDermott at (413) 232-7700 or email robmcdermott@verizon.net.
Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby
The 26th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, June 2, at the Frank Controy Pavilion at Onota Lake in Pittsfield from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM. No fishing license is required because it is Free Fishing Weekend for the state of Massachusetts.

The derby’s purpose is to raise money for the Jimmy Fund – Dana Farber Cancer Institute For Children. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Jimmy Fund in memory of Harry A. Bateman a former member of Central Berkshire Bowmen and I.U.E. Local 255 who was well known throughout Berkshire County and who became a victim of cancer in 1992.

Many trophies and prizes will be given out to the adult and youth winners of the fishing derby. There is even a special category for those fishing with a bow & arrow. All fish must be weighed in at 12:00 PM and can be caught at Onota Lake from boat or shore. Everyone still needs to register before all fish can be weighed in. You must be wearing your wrist band provided at the registration desk in order to receive food and to weigh in your fish.
Fishing tackle is given with the trophy prizes and 2 prizes for heaviest trout. A sportsman award, which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle, is given out to a child

Fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 years old and younger and it includes food and beverages. No alcohol is served at this event. All children receive a free gift and they get a chance at winning a mountain bike. The carp shoot is part of the fishing derby because that was something that Harry enjoyed. Advanced tickets may be purchased at Avid Sports, Dave’s Sporting Goods, Maces Marine and Onota Boat Livery.

Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club fishing derby
According to club spokesman Tim Minkler, some 64 fishermen and fisherwomen showed up for the SSC’s annual Fishing Derby on May 20 and fished from dawn to 3:00 pm at Stockbridge Bowl. Weather predictions were not good calling for rain most of the day with thunderstorms coming through mid-day and temperatures in the 60s. Well, the weather man was wrong. There were a few sprinkles throughout the day with a 10-minute cloud burst right around 2:30pm, but for the most part they stayed dry all day.
The $100 Winners were as follows: Largest Trout- Sheila L. Malumphy, Lee Ma., 1 lbs 12 oz., 16” long; Largest Bass- Tim Fogarty, Becket Ma., 3 lbs 8oz., 18” long, Largest Pickerel- Dawson Farina, West Stockbridge, Ma. 4 lbs, 2 oz., 26.5” long and Largest Bullhead – Seth Slemp, Lee Ma., 1 lb, 3oz, 12” long.
The Age 12 and Under Winner was Dylan Trumps of South Lee with a trout weighing 1 lb 2 oz and 13” long.

 

 

 

Small fry are liberated into Windsor Brook

 

In January brook trout eggs were received from the Sunderland State Fish Hatchery and placed in an aquarium at Taconic High School in Pittsfield. This was part of the Trout-in-the- Classroom program which MassWildlife sponsors. The eggs hatched about two weeks later and they were raised by some 80 or so Taconic High School students from grades 9 through 12. They have been attended to by the students, under the watchful eyes of teachers Michelle Potash and Tonya Michaud. They were fed pellets and remained there until last Thursday when they were set free.

I had hoped to get pictures of the kids releasing them but due to transportation issues (funding to provide bussing to bring the kids to Windsor) and other issues, none of the kids were able to make it. It’s a shame that after all of the attention and care that the kids gave to raise these fish, they could not be there to watch their liberation. Thanks to the above-mentioned dedicated teachers, who took the time to drive the brook trout to the release location. And thanks to teacher Ron Wojcik who coordinated the release site and time.

Youngsters take note! The unnamed stream where they were released runs across property owned by Tom Garvey (Maybe we should name it Tom’s Brook?) One could not choose a better place to release these fish, for it is a cold, clean little brook that doesn’t dry up in the summer and is a tributary to nearby Windsor Brook in Windsor. All of the little fry (perhaps 1 ¼ inches in length) appeared happy in their new home. They immediately acclimated to the currents, and back currents so that they constantly faced into them. Care was taken to not put them in pools where larger trout were likely to live and, given the opportunity, would gobble them up.

Those fish are not forgotten once released, for Tom keeps a close eye on them and feeds them daily. He even covers the stream with wire mesh in order to keep the blue herons from getting at them and eating them up. (herons love small brook trout, they can’t get enough of them). Tom has been through this routine before for this marks the 4th year that they have been released on his property. He observes them until the fall when the fish by that time are perhaps 3 inches long. That is when they disappear up or downstream and find new territories in which to reside.

Trout Stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with bigger trout last week, subject to change. Please note that Onota Lake in Pittsfield and Windsor Pond in Windsor have also been stocked with tiger trout. In addition to those waters, the following waters have been stocked: Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont, and Florida; East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, Cummington, Savoy and Windsor; Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Upper Highland Lake in Goshen, Housatonic River C&R in Lee and Stockbridge, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield and Laurel Lake in Lee.

Northern Pike Stocking

The DFW stocked more than 16,000 fingerling-sized northern pike into Cheshire Reservoir on Friday, April 27. These 4″ fish, which will take about 3 years to reach the 28″ minimum harvest size, were obtained from New Jersey DFW as part of a cooperative exchange program.
Northern Pike naturally reproduce in several waterbodies in the state. In the Berkshires, the natural reproduction is able to sustain the fishery in the Housatonic River (including Woods Pond) and in Pontoosuc, Onota, Buel, and Cheshire lakes.
MassWildlife also stocks some locations with sterile Tiger Muskellunge, which is a cross between a northern pike and muskellunge, and is a member of the esocid family. MassWildlife does not have a warm water hatchery in which to rear esocids but usually obtains a small number of 3–12 ” fish each year from the NJ DFW. They are stocked in selected Massachusetts waters with sufficient habitat to support them. It takes 5 or more years for them to attain the 28″ minimum legal length.
Training Range Safety Officers
The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be conducting Range Safety Officer (RSO) Training on May 19 at 9 am. The minimum age to become a credentialed NRA RSO is 21, and one must provide a valid and current NRA membership number on the day of the course. After the instructor submits the training report, applicants will be able to complete credentialing process online (nrainstructors.org). The Cost of this course is $100, and the Cost of a 2-year credential for NRA members is $30 ($50 for non-NRA members). If you are not already an NRA member, and would like to become one prior to taking this course, it is recommended you call the NRA rather than join online.

Registration is required, and the registration form can be downloaded and printed from nrainstructors.org website, RSO Course Registration Form. Contact Rob McDermott for questions, concerns, and registration at 413-232-7700 or email robmcdermott@verizon.net

International Defensive Pistol Association

The IDPA will be having a Steel Action Shoot on Sunday, May 20 at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association. For information, contact Shawn Sullivan at ssullee@icloud.com.
Endangered Species Day

This year, Endangered Species Day is observed on May 18. The United States Congress appointed this day to recognize efforts in conserving rare species. Through the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, Massachusetts also protects local native species that may or may not be federally protected. Over 425 endangered, threatened, or special concern animals and plants live in Massachusetts. Species from the majestic bald eagle to the unusual mountain cranberry need protection. Even though many, like the peregrine falcon, have come a long way, our native species still need help.
MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program implements the state’s Endangered Species Act. This happens through field surveys and research, regulations, habitat management, land protection, and education. But the Program needs you to help monitor rare species by telling MassWildlife when you see them. You can also help by donating directly to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Find out more by visiting mass.gov/supportnhesp.
Fishing Derbies

The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is having its Spring Fishing Derby at the boat ramp on Stockbridge Bowl next Sunday, May 20 from dawn until 3:00pm. Prizes of $100 will go the heaviest trout, pickerel, bass and bullhead. There will be free lures for all kids 12 and under. Hot breakfast and lunch will be available. Pre-registration fee is $10 and post registration is $15. Tickets are available at the Minkler Insurance Agency, 31 Main Street, Stockbridge, (W)413-644-3590, (H)413-298-4630 or from any club member.

DFW Director Jack Buckley retires
After 30 years of service with the DFW (MassWildlife), Director Jack Buckley retired on April 30, 2018. Appointed as Director by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 2015, Buckley supported new outreach initiatives such as social media and agency re-branding; focused efforts on hunter and angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation; accelerated habitat management activities on MassWildlife lands; procured habitat management grant funding for private landowners and municipalities; and partnered with the Massachusetts Water Resources Agency for a pipeline to supply the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown with gravity-fed water from Quabbin Reservoir. During this time, MassWildlife celebrated its 150th Anniversary, opened its new LEED Platinum certified Field Headquarters in Westborough for meetings and events to a wide variety of state agencies and conservation groups, and continued to protect and manage over 200,000 acres of important fish and wildlife habitat to benefit both wildlife and people.
The majority of Buckley’s career with MassWildlife was spent as Deputy Director of Administration and Personnel. He was responsible for personnel, fiscal, and budgetary management, legislative and external affairs, federal aid, information and education, licensing and permits, land acquisition, and the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. In 1998–2002, he also served as a Special Assistant to Secretary of Environmental Affairs Robert Durand for Forest Policy and Land Protection. Probably his most important contribution to the agency was his work on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) legislation, the creation of MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and his involvement with a lawsuit that went before the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The Court ultimately affirmed the agency’s authority and actions relative to enforcement of MESA.
Buckley was MassWildlife’s representative on the Public Access Board and the Pesticide Board. In addition, Buckley represented the Division on several committees of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, including Legislative Affairs, Federal Budget, and International Affairs. He was the regional representative of the northeastern states to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Technical Work Group.
Jack Buckley earned a Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree in Fisheries Biology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he studied the endangered shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River. He worked at the Massachusetts Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts as a Research Assistant and was promoted to Project Leader. Buckley then performed a stint as first Chief of Fisheries Management in Washington D. C. where he was responsible for developing the fisheries management program for the District of Columbia. His work in advancing fish and wildlife conservation has been recognized on local, regional, and national levels. Buckley was honored by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with a Special Recognition Award in 2011 for his outstanding commitment to the work of the Association and with the Ernest Thompson Seton Award in 2013, honoring his leadership in scientific wildlife management as a CITES representative. The Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council recently honored Buckley with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Fisheries and Wildlife Board has appointed previous Deputy Director Mark Tisa as Acting Director of the DFW.

Local youth turkey hunting results were low, but enthusiasm was high

 

The special mentored youth turkey hunting day took place on Saturday, April 28. The combined turkey harvest for the Lee and Stockbridge Sportsmen’s clubs was only 4 birds. Its hard to figure out why as the weather wasn’t bad, the mentors are eminently qualified, the kids are decent shots and there appears to be a lot of turkeys strutting their stuff out there. Maybe the toms detected an accent in the turkey calls this year and became leery. Well, that’s the way it goes…..no excuses were offered.

This year, I covered the Lee Sportsmen’s Association which had 9 participants in the program and two birds were taken. Alex Navin, while hunting with mentor Doug LaPlante managed to bag a 15 lbs. bird around 6:00am with one clean shot to the head. They called in 5 or 6 other gobblers, too. He is very pleased with his new 20-gauge Mossberg Shotgun.

Daniel Epe, who was mentored by Mark Bartini, heard at least 6 toms all around them. The trouble was that some were in back yards and obviously he couldn’t go there to hunt them. He had one bird interested in Mark’s call, but he got busted (bird detected them and took off).

A similar situation occurred to Will Loring who was mentored by Isaac Winters. They had a bunch of gobblers nearby but couldn’t call them in. One bird had the nerve to strut nearby, but it got away. Matt Ranzoni was mentoring Will’s brother Charlie Loring and he bagged a 17 lbs. bird. No luck for Taylor Salice, who was mentored by Josh Hurlihey, but she had a good time hunting never-the-less.

John Ranzoni mentored Hunter Briggs, and he took a shot but didn’t drop the bird.

After having a burger or two excellently prepared by Tom and Virginia Dubois, the youngsters learned how to dress out the birds. In addition to the meat, they were shown how to save the tail feathers, beards, spurs, other feathers, etc.

Meanwhile, the folks at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club also bagged two birds. Some 18 youths went out turkey hunting this year. Thanks to information provided by spokesman Mike Buffoni, here is how they did:
Two youths got birds and Mike reported that at least 3 other youths had shots but missed. Every kid had great action and heard birds gobbling. Colby Carlson (Mike’s nephew) who was mentored by Brian Korte went on his first hunt ever and got a jake. Brady Donald also got a nice bird. Pretty sure it was his first also. “Very cool to see the excitement in these youth hunters” said Mike.

As usual they had a really nice lunch put on by Chef Peter Delgrande at the club. After eating, they also learned how to tend to the birds. Quite a few of the kids didn’t come for lunch and most were in shorts so they didn’t get a group photo this year. We did get a picture of young Colby Carlson with his turkey. The expression of joy and pride says it all, hey?
Few details came from North County except that Scott Krzanik of Adams, MA was mentoring his daughter Grace when she bagged an 18-pound bird with a 9 inch beard and 3/4″ spurs. She did this at 6:35 a.m. I believe I interviewed her back in 2016 when she got her first bird on youth day as well. Scott said that Matthew Tassone also got a nice tom North county.
According to Astrid Huseby, DFW Youth Turkey Hunt Coordinator, they don’t have exact numbers of how many youths participated. They do know that 270 youth ages 12-17 obtained the required permits/authorizations to hunt on the youth day, but not how many of those 270 actually went out hunting.
As for how many turkeys were harvested, they have a preliminary number of 52 birds reported online. More birds may have been harvested and taken to a check station that doesn’t use online reporting so they won’t have total numbers until the end of the season when all harvest reports are collected from check stations.

Free Fishing Days

In order to plan your fishing trips, here is a listing of free fishing days, where no freshwater license is needed: In Massachusetts, the dates are June 2 and 3. (You can also take advantage of free saltwater fishing on Father’s Day weekend – June 16 and 17). While you can fish for free on June 2-3, a license is required at all other times if you’re 15 or older. If you’re aged 15-17, your license is free.

In New York the free fishing days are June 23-24. They also have two additional free fishing dates in 2018 which are September 22 and November 11. In Vermont it is June 9. (Be sure to verify that date as I am receiving conflicting dates for Vermont). In New Hampshire the day is June 2; in Maine, the dates are June 2 and 3; the Connecticut Free Fishing date is May 12 and in Rhode Island they are May 6 and May 7. Now’s your chance to “test the waters” in our neighboring states free.

Pistol Shoots
The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, 310 Curran Rd., Cheshire, MA, will be having outdoor pistol shoots this year. The monthly shoots take place on Saturdays starting at 10:00 am. The entry fee for the first shoot is $10.00 and $5.00 for the second shoot. The winners will split ½ the first shoot take and all of the second shoot take. On May 12, there will be “Wood Blocks Standin’ on a Log” centerfire. 5 shots at 5 blocks at 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards.

Rules: For Rimfire – .22 Caliber, Semi-Automatic Pistols or Revolvers. For Centerfire – Semi-Automatic Pistols or Revolvers, no caliber over .45, red dot scopes are allowed, 1 or 2- handed allowed.

Also, on Sunday, May 20, they will be having a Steel Action Shoot, and on Thursday, May 24 they will be having their first Thursday Night Steel Match.

For more information contact: Martha Lee (413) 212-4154, Evelyn Jones (413) 684-3391.

Trout Stocking

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River in Adams. Cheshire and Clarksburg; Greenwater Pond in Becket, West Branch of the Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington and Middlefield; Westfield River Mainstem in Russell, Potash Brook in Blandford and Russell, Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Pontoosuc Lake in Lanesborough and Big Pond in Otis.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having its next free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, May 12, from 9 to 10:30 am at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Bass Fishing Tournament

The bass fishermen have started their 2018 tournaments and the first event was at the Congamond Lakes in Southwick, MA on April 29. The results are as follows: 1st place went to Ricky Terzak with 16.4 lbs. of bass. In 2nd place was Paul Procopio with 12.13 lbs. Dave Benham took 3rd with 12.4lbs, 4th place went to Bill Gates with 11 lbs. and in 5th place was Bill Pigott with 8.7 lbs. These are 5 fish totals weights. All were caught, weighed in and released.

The lunker (largemouth) bass was taken by Bill Gates, one weighing 4.1 lbs. Paul Procopio caught a 3.3 lbs. smallmouth. Both are currently leading in the Lunker of the Year contests.

Registration is open for the next tournament which takes place on May 13.

HVA to conduct Stream Assessments of the Konkapot and Williams Rivers

The Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) invites interested individuals to help form “Stream Teams” to complete Stream Assessments this spring and summer. “Stream Team” volunteers will walk, sometimes in the river, or paddle along an assigned segment of the river and record information along the way. All of the information collected will be compiled into a final Stream Assessment Report which will include conditions and use of the river sections plus possible recommendations for future projects. Assessments are to be completed from May to July and can be scheduled according to the volunteers’ availability.

HVA has scheduled a Stream Assessment volunteer training on Tuesday, May 15 from 5 to7pm in the Community Room of the Mason Library, Great Barrington. Registration is required, space is limited. They will also conduct an on-stream training practice review with date and time to be determined.

These surveys help HVA assess the health of the river and work with the community to improve that part of the watershed. All of the information collected will be compiled into a final Stream Assessment Report which will include conditions and use of the river sections, plus possible recommendations for future projects. These reports should be available in October 2018 on HVA’s website (hvatoday.org). Copies of the report, both digital or hard copy can be requested.

Funding for the Stream Assessments is provided by The Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. The Green River and Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River Stream Assessments were completed in 2017. Copies of these reports and other previous reports are available at hvatoday.org or you can call and request a copy. If you are interested in participating in this project, call HVA at 413-298-7024 or email Alison at adixon@hvatoday.org.

The two Stream Assessments that are to be completed this year are the Williams and Konkapot Rivers. Both of these rivers are tributaries of the Housatonic River. The Williams River flows south and southeast through West Stockbridge and Great Barrington where it joins the Housatonic River while the Konkapot River begins in Monterey and continues south through New Marlborough and, after a dip into Canaan, Connecticut, flows into the Housatonic River in Sheffield.
“Stream Teams” for each of the rivers will be made up of small groups of 2 – 3 volunteers and the teams are typically assigned a 1 – 2 mile section of the river. HVA will train “Stream Team” volunteers on how to conduct the survey, what information to record, and safety protocols. Volunteers will be asked to record things of note such as: pipes that are seen, invasive plants or wildlife observations, and general river conditions and usage. Following the surveys, the “Stream Team” volunteers will come together to share their findings and discuss suitable recommendations. The information gathered will be compiled into final Stream Assessment reports – one for each of the tributaries.
Not all “Stream Team” members need to be involved in conducting a survey. If you have an interest or expertise in either the Williams or Konkapot Rivers, HVA welcomes your input. Trainings are expected to be scheduled in May. Surveys will be completed from May – July weather and water levels permitting. The final reports, which are expected to be compiled in late summer, will be submitted to the local municipalities and state government and should also be available to the public by October 2018. The assessment will be placed on the HVA website along with their past reports. Feel free to check out these past reports to help understand more about this program. Contact HVA at 413-298-7024 for more information about volunteering for a “Stream Team.”
Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting
The May meeting of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board will be held on Wednesday, May 16 at 1:00 p.m. at the Stationery Factory ,63 Flansburg Avenue, Dalton, MA.

Suggestions to avoid bear problems

 

According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, as of March 1, 2018 the Western District has had three reports of bears attacking livestock, in two cases killing a sheep and a goat. In the third case, a llama was attacked but got it away with minimal harm. The attacks took place in the towns of Monterey, Blandford and West Stockbridge.

Madden noted that in all three cases residents had seen bears regularly but continued feeding birds.

Bears are pretty hungry this time of year. With this lingering winter, succulent vegetation
such as skunk cabbage is late arriving. We would be wise to keep a close eye on our pets and animals, and for goodness sake, don’t invite the bears with bird seeds, suet and garbage. The following are some suggestions for farmers and others to help avoid encounters with bears:

Protect livestock
Avoid pasturing animals in remote areas or nearby heavy wooded cover or travel areas that bears might use. Whenever possible, pen livestock in or near the barn at night, especially pregnant females and those with small young. Avoid field birthing if possible. Do not leave carcasses of dead animals exposed in fields, pastures, or nearby areas. Consider the use of guard animals. Keep livestock feed in secured outbuildings protected by electric fencing or in bear-proof containers.
Protect bees and chickens
Use electric fencing to safeguard hives and coops. Electric fences are most effective when put up and continuously charged before the first damage occurs. Keep open, mowed areas on all sides of hives and coops and do not locate hives or coops in abandoned areas or close to brushy, overgrown areas.
Protect crops and orchards
Temporary electric fencing may be used to protect corn and other crops. Seven-strand slanted non-electric fences have been used to keep bears out of orchards. Contact local bear hunters for the early September bear season to hunt the fields.
If you have a second home owner neighbor who has not yet arrived in the Berkshires, you might want to share the following information with them:
Bird Feeders
MassWildlife recommends that if you live in an area with bears, it is best to avoid bird feeders altogether. Bears finding a bird feeder, bird seed, corn or other bird food will often revisit that site. Bird feeders draw bears closer to people, resulting in bears losing their fear of people. This process is called habituation. It’s not safe for bears or people to be close to one another.
If you choose to put out feeders, doing so in the winter when bears are denned decreases the chances of a bear coming to your feeder. In general, most bears are denned from mid-December through February. Although most bears in Massachusetts enter winter dens, MassWildlife biologists have tracked bears that remained active for some or all of the winter if food is available. It is important that you remove the entire feeder at the first sign of bear activity.
Many wild animals are attracted to bird feeders including wild turkeys and coyotes. Since bird feeders attract small mammals like squirrels, they can also attract animals like fishers and bobcats who prey upon the smaller animals.
For those people who enjoy birds in their yards, MassWildlife suggests growing native plants, shrubs, and trees to attract birds. Adding a water feature is a big draw for birds. Taking these actions may increase the diversity of birds you see and will prevent the unnatural feeding of bears and other kinds of neighborhood wildlife. Some bears have learned to empty bird feeders without destroying the feeder. Do not continue to fill a feeder. Do not leave empty feeders out because residual smell and the sight of feeders can still attract bears.
Pets
Pet food is a tasty treat for bears so don’t leave pet food outdoors. The presence of a dog could trigger a bear to be aggressive. Keep dogs leashed and never let dogs chase or interact with bears. Check your yard for bears before letting your dog out. If you encounter a bear while with your dog, back away slowly and leave the area.
Garbage
Store all garbage in closed containers in a garage or outbuilding. Do not leave your garbage barrels outside overnight. Rather, put them by the roadside before pickup. Use of double bags or sprinkling with ammonia will help reduce odors. Bears and other wild and domestic animals will tip cans and scatter garbage. Smelly cans may attract bears even if there isn’t anything in them, so store garbage cans inside.
Compost responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps, greasy, oily or sweet materials in your compost pile. These kinds of food attract bears and other animals.
Bear-proof garbage cans may be available from municipalities or waste management contractors. In communities where bears are more common, bear-proof dumpsters are recommended for apartments, condos and campgrounds.
Clean greasy barbecues and grills after each use. Do not leave food scraps, grease containers or spilled grease in your yard.
If you see a bear in your neighborhood

A bear’s first response to something unusual is to leave. If a bear is feeding in an area where it doesn’t belong, such as your yard, on a porch, or in a dumpster, MassWildlife recommends you step outside, yell, and make lots of noise. The bear will usually leave—accompanied by its young. Habituated bears may ignore minor harassment. If you continue to see bears, check your property and remove any potential food sources.

In the Woods

Black bears are usually wary of people. Normal trail noise will alert bears to your presence and they will often disappear before you see them. If you see a bear, it may not immediately recognize you as a human and may be curious until it scents you. Make the animal aware of your presence by clapping, talking, or making other sounds while slowly backing away. Do not approach bears or intrude between a female bear and her cubs. Keep dogs leashed and stay a respectful distance away.

While Camping

MassWildlife recommends that you don’t cook, eat, or store food in or next to your tent or camp trailer where odors may linger. Sleep as far away from food storage and preparation areas as possible. Do not dispose of food scraps, grease, or other edibles in your campfire. These materials may not completely burn. Also, the scent of burned food may attract bears.
Store food in bear-proof containers or hang it high on sturdy poles or on wires strung between two trees. Food should hang at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet off the base of the truck. Don’t feed bears or leave food items or coolers out when away from the campsite. Use caution if storing food in your vehicle. Some bears may be able to break a window to gain entry. Even if unsuccessful, the bear’s attempts may damage your vehicle.
Store toiletries safely with your food. The scent and use of perfumes and colognes may attract bears. Stay at campgrounds that are clean, use “bear boxes” for safe food storage and dispose of garbage in bear-proof dumpsters. While hiking, normal trail noise will alert bears to your presence and prompt them to move without being noticed.
Spread the word about how to avoid conflicts with bears by sharing these tips with others.

Black bears are important and valuable mammals in Massachusetts. They are big game mammals for which regulated hunting seasons and a management program have been established.

Be River Smart!
No, I’m not referring to smart river fishing or river paddling. Heck, you don’t even have to go near a river to be river smart. The Housatonic River Association (HVA) folks are encouraging everyone to “Be River Smart!” in a different way.
According to Allison Dixon, HVA Berkshire Outreach Manager, polluted stormwater runoff is the number one threat to the water quality of our rivers and lakes today. Yet, we can all be part of the solution. Just get River Smart! Understanding the issue is the first step and then being mindful and maybe adjusting of some of our everyday behaviors is the next and most crucial step.
As Dixon points out, we all learned as kids about the water cycle – when rain falls or snow and ice melt, it either soaks into the ground or evaporates. What we probably didn’t learn is that when rain fall meets hard surfaces like roofs, paved parking lots, streets and driveways, it flows as runoff into the storm drains and asphalted channels into the nearest river or lake.
By the time it reaches that water body it is polluted stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff picks up fluids that leak from cars such as motor oil, litter, pet waste, fertilizer, pesticides, sand and salt and more from the ground. This runoff contaminates the water raising bacteria levels and compromising the integrity of the ecosystem and the health of the aquatic life in all streams of all of our watersheds in Berkshire County.
Each one of us contributes to this source of pollution and each one of us can make a difference. Pick up that pet waste and throw it in the trash, identify and fix those vehicle leaks quickly, switch to organic lawn care and wash that car on the lawn or at a car wash.
For more information on how to be river smart, contact HVA at 413-298-7024 or email Alison Dixon, HVA’s Berkshire Outreach Manager at adixon@hvatoday.org
Trout Stockings
The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week but, as Deb Lipa, Clerk for the Western District DFW noted, the water levels/conditions are crazy so there may have been changes and further updates after this list was prepared: Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland, South River in Ashfield, Swift River in Cummington, Ashfield and Goshen; Walker Brook in Becket and Chester, West Branch Brook in Chesterfield, East Branch of the Westfield River in Cummington, Chesterfield and Huntington; Stones Brook in Goshen, West Brook in Great Barrington, Little River in Worthington and Huntington, Greenwater Brook in Lee, Goose Pond Brook in Tyringham and Lee, Beartown and West Brooks in Lee, Goose Pond in Lee, Hop Brook in Lee and Tyringham, Factory Brook in Middlefield, Konkapot River in Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield; Lake Buel in Monterey, Mill Brook in Plainfield, Richmond Pond in Richmond, Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield, Stockbridge Bowl and Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge, Depot Brook in Washington, West Brook in Windsor and Bronson and West Branch Brooks in Worthington.
Spring Turkey Hunting
Next Saturday, April 28, the 2018 Youth Turkey Hunt day takes place in Wildlife Management Zones 1-13. That is a special day set aside for youths aged 12 to 17. This hunt, developed through a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, allows for a mentored hunt. Hopefully, the youths paid attention and successfully completed the pre-hunt workshop and received the special permits.
Hey youngsters, get to bed early Friday night for the spring season begins ½ hour before sunrise, which is around 5:15 am, and you should be in your hunting spot by then on Saturday morning. Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable hunt. Hopefully, the weather will be nice
Incidentally, the regular spring turkey hunting season opens on Monday, April 30 and runs through May 26.

Lenox Land Trust honors Charles Liston

The Lenox Land Trust recently informed Charles Liston of Lenox Dale that they have designated him an Emeritus Director status in recognition of his many contributions to land preservation in Lenox and Berkshire County. The emeritus letter, which was drafted by Kate McNaulty-Vaughan, Lenox Land Trust (LLT) Executive Board Member and Secretary reads as follows:
“In November, 2016 at the Lenox Land Trust Annual Meeting, the LLT awarded you a special plaque, recognizing your role in forming the Land Trust and your longstanding commitment and leadership of the conservation movement and its early initiatives in Lenox and Berkshire County.”
“As one of the first members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council when it started 50 years ago, you have since distinguished yourself as one of few people who had an unbroken record of support for all 50 years! You were recognized for having been tireless in your role as a surveyor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in assisting in conservation work for the state, for Lenox, and for many regional environmental groups. And for that generosity of spirit, generations to come will enjoy these preserved lands and wildlife.”
“You have explored and recorded the boundaries and features of thousands of acres of land. Your expertise and love of natural landscapes resulted in the permanent protection of many of those acres in their natural state. Always on the lookout for special lands and places in your work for the state, you identified land that would be of interest to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, as well as the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and other conservation organizations.”
“You also served on the first Conservation Commission in the Town of Lenox and played a key role in obtaining grants for the acquisition of the Post Farm (100 acres) in 1959, and Edith Wharton Park (15 acres) in 1972 –wonderful open space and recreation lands in town. Notably, those acquisitions received 75% reimbursement from the Federal Government, and 25% from the State. When John D. Kennedy donated the southern half of Parsons Marsh to the Town in 1974, you did all the surveying free of charge, which entailed countless hours of work. This is an astounding legacy, perhaps not known to most residents today.”
“You can only be described as an avid conservationist and environmentalist. The townspeople and Lenox Land Trust will be forever grateful to you for all these unselfish gifts of your time, expertise, and land, especially that parcel on Crystal Street (Lenox Dale) donated for a small park in 2007. In 2008 the Town of Lenox dedicated that lovely spot as Liston Park to honor you and your late wife Carmen.”
May I also add that anyone who has hunted the Post Farm, the George Darey Wildlife Management Area or Hallowell Meadow; or hiked or bird watched at the Edith Wharton Park or Parson’s Marsh in Lenox owes Charlie a great deal of gratitude.
We also owe the 95 year-old veteran our heartfelt gratitude for serving in the US Marines during WWII in the South Pacific, notably in the Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa campaigns.

 

Trout stocking
The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River (South Branch) in Adams and Cheshire; Hoosic River (North Branch) in Clarksburg; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Chickley River in Charlemont, Hawley and Savoy; Cold River in Charlemont, Florida and Savoy; Westfield River in Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge, Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Housatonic River (Southwest Branch) in Pittsfield, Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Town Brook in Lanesboro, Goose Pond in Tyringham and Lee; Garfield Lake in Monterey, Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown.
Land Acquisition
In his April report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported that MassWildlife recently acquired 52 acres off land off of Tannery Road in Otis, MA. The primary feature of the property is approximately 1,500 feet of frontage along the Farmington River. It is accessible from Tannery Road near where the Knox Trail Rider’s and the Isaac Walton League Clubhouse is. DFW also picked up a one-acre piece of land along that road for a parking area and access to the river.
Earth Week Stocking Event
MassWildlife invites you to celebrate Earth Week by helping them stock trout on Richmond Pond. You will have the opportunity to meet MassWildlife fisheries staff, view trout up close, and learn about places to fish near you. The event takes place on Thursday, April 19, at 1:30 pm. at the Richmond Pond Boat Ramp off of Town Beach Road.
Quadriplegic hunter
Say, remember Zach Porio? He was the quadriplegic turkey hunter that I wrote about in August entitled “Local turkey hunter is an inspiration to us all”. (August 13, 2017) To refresh your memory, he is the guy that shot a turkey using his knees as support and pulling the trigger with both hands. After dropping a tom, he had to drive his truck closer to the bird, grab a rope, get into his wheelchair and push it 20 yards over a meadow to retrieve it. He then had to bend over, tie the turkey by its feet, push himself back upright into the wheelchair, put the rope into his mouth and drag the 12 lbs turkey back to his truck while pushing the wheelchair.
Well, the local community rallied to the aid of the young man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a dirt bike accident several years ago. The plan was to get the avid hunter a special chair which would allow him to be more mobile in the woods.

Through fund raising dinners, auctions, collection boxes and various events, the community and businesses got together to raise enough funds to enable Zach to purchase that special chair. Quite a different chair than the wheelchair that was featured in this column back in August, hey?
This is what Zach posted on Facebook, “I just want to thank everyone so incredibly much for their generosity in helping me to get this incredible chair. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to interact and get out there to play in the snow with everyone again, instead of watching from the sidelines. To be able to move around on my own with almost no limitations and to stand more than I’ve done in a long while was great and just what I needed to cure the cabin fever of winter. Being outdoors is something that I used to enjoy so much in the past but have dreaded ever since the accident. Now, this chair gives me the ultimate freedom to get around and maneuver the outdoors like I used to love so much.”
“I thank you all for coming together to make such a huge difference in my life and giving me the ability to interact with my children beyond the limitations of my wheelchair. Again, I’m just beyond amazed at our community and the phenomenal things that are accomplished when people come together. I want to let you know that the sharing won’t stop and that I plan to give others in the community the opportunity to experience a bit of the joy and freedom by extending the offer for others with accessibility limitations the chance to utilize the track chair. Thank you again, Zack.”

Acid Rain Monitors are now even more important
If you saw a grown adult poking around in your little neighborhood stream last Sunday, you needn’t have been alarmed. Its possible that the person was one of the half dozen local Acid Rain Monitors collecting water samples for UMASS. Through fair or foul weather, they have been monitoring Commonwealth waters for over 30 years now. Last Sunday, they were collecting water samples in 20-degree weather. But they are a dedicated lot and most of them have been doing these annual samples, never missing a collection date, for 15-20 years now.
The monitors knew that the water samples collected in our area were brought to Westfield State University to be tested for ph, alkalinity, major cations and anions. But recently, they were informed by UMASS that this year the samples will be used as part of Dr. Boutt’s Isoscape project, which involves mapping the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in surface waters throughout Massachusetts.

Dr. David F. Boutt is an Associate Professor of hydrogeology, watershed hydrology and groundwater recharge/discharge with the Department of Geosciences UMASS-Amherst. The goal of this project is to develop a baseline of environmental isotopes to understand hydrologic functioning of surface and ground waters throughout the Commonwealth. The ultimate product of this effort are spatial maps of isotopic composition of surface water and groundwater that will define the isoscape in which we live.

Through a combination of sampling efforts by numerous voluntary contributing organizations and the UMASS Hydro Team, they have been able to create a water isotope database consisting of data from all over Massachusetts and much of the Northeast.

Depending on the weight of the water, the source of the water (extra-tropical versus arctic) or the age of the water (recently precipitated versus groundwater) can be inferred. For example, extra-tropical storm waters tend to have a heavier signature whereas Arctic waters tend to be slightly lighter. Precipitation is usually significantly heavier than older water.

So why is this research important? According to UMASS, most significantly, the breadth of this project allows them to track the response of watersheds to hydrologic events–whether that be major storms, or droughts. This will especially be significant as climate change begins to take effect and more extreme weather events occur. Water isotope signatures are also useful in other environmental scenarios such as a tracer in contamination scenarios. This project is the first of its kind at the state level in the nation.

Who would have thought that our collectors with their white bottles of water could turn out to be so important in the scheme of things? Most of the collectors are fishermen and women who have a love for and a desire to protect our waters. Also, who would have thought that your little stream in Becket, Sheffield or Richmond would be part of such an important and far reaching study?

For more information about the project, and a definition of isotopes, click onto: https://blogs.umass.edu/dboutt/research/current-research/isoscape-project/

Questions arise over the handling of Pittsfield Lakes

Recently, I have been receiving correspondence from sportsmen questioning why the water level on Pontoosuc Lake is so low that they are unable to launch their boats in the open water near the outlet channel. I didn’t know the answer. It was my understanding that per Order of Conditions, the lake had to be completely refilled by April 1, and I am unaware of any amendments or exclusions to that Order of Condition.

On April 2, I went to the lake outlet and found that the water level indeed appeared to be 2 feet below the dam overflow level and that water was being diverted around the dam in a pipe and into the outlet stream (one of the feeders to the Housatonic River). It looked as though the
refilling, a process which probably takes a couple of weeks to complete, had not even begun. It is my understanding that the lake is allowed to be raised or lowered no more than 3 inches per day to reduce adverse impacts on the outlet stream. While there, I took a picture of the outlet. (Picture quality not quite sufficient for this column).

Through e-mail and telephone calls, I tried to reach the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding this matter. (I subsequently found out that I should have contacted the DCR because it is the permittee and operator for Pontoosuc Lake). I called the Pittsfield Conservation Agent (Rob Vanderkar) and we had a good conversation. He claimed he contacted the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) on April 2 and requested that they begin
refilling the lake that very day. If they did so, it must have begun after I visited the dam and took pictures.

On March 4, the DCR Press Secretary responded to my inquiry with the following information:

“Every year, the DCR conducts a winter drawdown of approximately three feet of water from Pontoosuc Lake by opening the dam in the City of Pittsfield. Staff then elevate the water levels back to normal for the spring/summer season (typically April 1st).”

“However, the agency has not brought the water levels up to normal seasonal heights just yet due to the large amounts of ice currently present within the lake caused by a prolonged winter season, which has happened in past years. Elevating the water levels at this time would enable ice to drift to the shoreline and potentially damage the bank, property, and/or other structures that it may encounter.”

“DCR staff are currently allowing the ice to fully melt, water levels are slowly rising (approximately 15 inches from the spillway), and staff continue to monitor the issue. Water levels are expected to be at spring/summer heights later this week or early next week.”

I am no biologist, but I don’t think “winter drawdowns” cut it. Unless something changed in the regulations recently, drawdowns had to be completed by November 15 in order to allow the critters (amphibians, mammals, etc.) to relocate in order to survive the freezing temperatures.

The issue of severe and late lake drawdowns and refills has been a constant point of contention to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS), the umbrella organization for a dozen or so local sportsmen’s clubs and some 3,000 or more local sportsmen and women. Rarely has a monthly meeting taken place in the last couple of years when this subject, as well as the use of herbicides, did not come up. Some of the concerns are: too severe drawdowns, drawdowns conducted too late to allow the critters to make new winter homes, excessive or overuse or unnecessary uses of herbicides, and others.

Their concerns were piqued when it was learned that there was a drastic drawdown last winter on Onota Lake which left thousands of freshwater clams, mussels and a rare aquatic plant exposed on a sandbar to freeze. Even a muskrat had been left stranded in the low water and had to be trapped out by DFW. (Keep in mind that drawdowns are supposed to be completed before winter).

I have since learned from the DEP that Jim McGrath, Pittsfield’s Harbormaster, is the operator for Onota Lake and that MassDEP has and is providing guidance and recommendations to the Conservation Commission regarding permits.

Complicated, hey?

Nevertheless, someone should have been held accountable for the demise of the thousands of those bivalves. The freshwater mussels were identified by DFW aquatic biologists as common mussels, but they were estimated to be from 50 to 80 years old. A Comb Water Milfoil (as opposed to the invasive Eurasian Milfoil), was also exposed to freezing during that drawdown. It is listed in Massachusetts as “Endangered.”

The County League’s concerns have been frequently conveyed to the Western District DFW Supervisor Andrew Madden, but his hands are tied in these matters because the Conservation Commissions call the shots. (Although I am not sure if the Concom called the shot on the above referenced Onota Lake drawdown last fall). Isn’t it ironic that the very agency that has the best trained aquatic biologists and expertise to address these concerns, basically has no say? Yes, DFW advice and recommendations are sought by lake associations, conservation commissions and others but at the end of the day the recommendations are largely unheeded it is they who make the decisions and who, in the County League’s opinion, are the least qualified to make them. The County League hopes to change all that.

It is important that fishermen, conservationists and those who represent the critters also have a say in the management of these Massachusetts “Great Ponds”. It is up to them to become informed, attend the various meetings and work with the Conservation Commissions, lake associations, DEP, DCR, DFW and others to come up with sound lake management plans that all can live with, even the critters.

Incidentally, Dan Miraglia, of Pittsfield, has been the watch dog keeping the BCLS updated on lake matters. As a sign of appreciation, the League chose Dan to receive its Silvio O. Conte Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award this year.

Incidentally, the leadership of the BCLS asked me to announce that they still have tickets available for the Silvio Conte Memorial Banquet on April 21. At that banquet, Dan, along with George Wislocki, Karen Kruszyna, Tom Tyning and another guy will be recognized. While there, maybe we can ask Tom what the effects the constant drawdowns have on the turtle, crayfish and other amphibian populations.

Trout Stocking

The following water bodies were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week, subject to change: Green River – Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; West Branch Westfield River – Becket, Chester, Middlefield and Huntington; East Branch Westfield River- Chesterfield, Cummington, Savoy, Huntington Russell and Windsor; Deerfield River – Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Farmington River – Otis and Sandisfield; Konkapot River – Monterey, New Marlborough and Sheffield, Norwich Pond in Huntington, Windsor Lake in North Adams, Mansfield Pond in Great Barrington and Lake Buel in Monterey.

Coyote Contest

Eight coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winner was Carl Dolle of Clarksburg. He bagged the most with a total of 5 and he also bagged the largest coyote which weighed 41 lbs. Joe Trybus, of Lanesborough, MA won the random draw. Congratulations to both.

As you undoubtedly noticed the checked-in numbers were low this year. According to store owner, Dave (DJ) Benham, Jr., it was probably due to the poor weather conditions. It seemed like every time it snowed, it crusted over, keeping the hunters out of the woods. The hunters did not want the crust harming their dog’s paws.

Fishing Derby
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having this year’s first free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, April 14, from 9 to 10:30 AM at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Intro to Action Shooting 101 Class

Do you want to start shooting International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), or Steel Challenge this season but really don’t know where to start? On April 15 there will be an Action Shooter 101 class at Lee Sportsmen Association (LSA) from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The cost is $5 per person.

The training will begin with a mandatory 45-minute safety and procedures training session in the clubhouse. They will then move to the range for training on action shooting match firearm handling. Later you will be shooting a short, simulated match under the direct supervision of a safety officer. The instructor is LSA’s Paddy Sullivan a Master level shooter in IDPA, Steel Challenge and USPSA

You do not have to be a member of LSA to attend this class. This is a class for new shooters and you are absolutely welcome. But this is not a class for someone not familiar with the firearm you will use. You should have practiced and be very comfortable with loading, unloading, shooting and clearing jams prior to taking this class. You are encouraged to find some introduction to IDPA and Steel Challenge videos on YouTube prior to taking this class in order to be much better prepared and more comfortable.

On April 22, they will be having a 2-gun event. (2 Gun is similar to IDPA only you use a pistol and shotgun.)
There are certain rules with which you must abide. For information on them and to see the 2018 IDPA and Steel schedule, contact Shawn Sullivan at ssullee@icloud.com.

Beagle Club hunt
Looking for something to do next Saturday or Sunday? Maybe you want to hear some good music, sung only by beagles. Perhaps that type of music brings you back to the old days when lots of folks had beagles tied to dog houses in their back yards.
Well, I know just the place to once again hear that music, and that is the Berkshire Beagle Club on Sleepy Hollow Road in Richmond, MA. Next Saturday and Sunday, the club is having its spring field trials where some of the best beagles in the northeast compete at following the scents of snowshoe hares and/or cottontail bunnies. All of the dogs are AKC registered and many already possess championship ribbons won at other field trials.
When they strike a scent, they sure sing, some practically yodeling. For beagle lovers, it is truly music to their ears.
The club welcomes folks to come and just listen to the dogs and observe the judges. Every now and then, you will hear someone shout “Tally Ho!” to let the judges know that they spotted a bunny or dog on its scent.
There will be plenty of food to purchase there.