Berkshire County 2017 bear harvest set a record

According to figures released by MassWildlife, 119 black bears were harvested in the Berkshires last year beating the prior record of 106 which was set in 2016. The harvest numbers have been steadily rising over the years. For example, 57 were harvested in the Berkshires in 2013, 78 in 2014 and 75 in 2015. Berkshire County continues to have the most resident bears and consequently the highest harvest totals. The county with the next highest harvest was Franklin County with 64 bears harvested last year.
The statewide harvest came in at 268 bears in 2017 and that represents the second highest total, just below the 283 bears taken in 2016. A statewide breakdown by hunting season is as follows: September season (Sept. 5 – Sept. 23) was 151, the November season (Nov. 6 – Nov. 25 was 26 and the Shotgun season (Nov. 27 – Dec. 9) was 91.
New regulations proposed for Wildlife Management Areas

MassWildlife is proposing leash and waste disposal regulations for dogs on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). MassWildlife has a long tradition of welcoming dogs on WMAs and dogs are still welcome on them under this new proposal.
MassWildlife proposes to take this action due to repeated complaints from WMA users about negative and unsafe encounters with unleashed dogs and issues with dog waste. MassWildlife protects and manages these areas to sustain wildlife abundance and diversity and provide wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching, while at the same time providing a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors. Therefore:
1. The proposed regulations require leashing dogs and other domestic animals on WMAs. Dogs may be off-leash only when hunting or hunt-training with licensed hunters under existing regulations, or if they are participating in retriever or bird dog trial events that have been permitted by MassWildlife. Leashing dogs decreases conflicts with both people and other dogs, resulting in a safer and more positive experience for everyone.
2. The proposal also requires dog owners to pick up dog waste and dispose of it offsite. Removing dog waste reduces nuisance and protects the safety and health of dogs and other pets, people, and wildlife.
In a recent report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden noted that here in the Berkshires, the problem is not so severe. But in the WMAs in the eastern part of the state it is a real problem because large numbers of unleashed dogs are roaming in some of those WMAs. In many cases it is the dog sitters who are bringing them.
Hunters, whose license and Wildland Stamp fees helped purchase these lands, cannot fully enjoy the hunting experience because of the numbers or dogs, some of them aggressive, disrupting hunting activities.
A public hearing has been scheduled for February 6, 2018 at 7 PM at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, 01581. Information on the public hearing, public comment process and proposed regulatory language is posted on MassWildlife’s website at Mass.gov/masswildlife-public-hearings. Outdoor sportsmen, and any other users of Wildlife Management Areas, are encouraged to attend or weigh in, by mail or email, on this proposed regulation.
MassWildlife Habitat Grants announced
Eighteen municipalities, organizations, and private landowners across the state have been awarded a total of $506,856 in grants for wildlife habitat improvement projects. The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program was developed to establish partnerships between MassWildlife and private and municipal landowners to enhance habitat and increase recreational opportunities on properties across the state. This year, funds provided through the grant program will benefit 20 wildlife habitat improvement projects, totaling 950 acres in 19 Massachusetts communities. The projects will complement the ongoing habitat management efforts currently underway on state owned lands.
The Habitat Management Grant Program is in its third year, and has now awarded over $1,215,000 in funding to 51 projects. The Program’s mission is to provide financial assistance to municipal and private landowners of conserved properties to improve and manage habitat for wildlife that has been deemed in greatest conservation need and for game species. Projects awarded with funds are also designed to expand outdoor recreational opportunities. The funds are provided through MassWildlife’s Habitat Management Grant Program. This year, the Baker-Polito Administration increased the funding of the program by $200,000 utilizing environmental bond funds.
“The Habitat Management Grant Program is a great example of the strong partnership between the state, municipalities, private landowners and organizations working together to conserve land and wildlife,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants are an important tool to help build upon the thousands of acres of important conservation land for wildlife and residents across the Commonwealth.”
“Massachusetts is home to an incredibly diverse array of protected natural resources and habitats that include saltwater marshes, mountain summits, and old growth forests,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Habitat for common and rare plants and wildlife requires active and ongoing maintenance and management in order to thrive, and these grants will assist in those important efforts.”
“Habitat management is key to benefiting birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians which depend on some less common habitats,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to expand our habitat management footprint and improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women, birders, naturalists and other outdoor enthusiasts.”
“About 80 percent of Massachusetts’ lands where wildlife is found is owned privately,” said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. “Therefore, as an environmental agency we should promote and apply science-based habitat management activities with committed municipal and private landowners, thereby protecting their investment in wildlife and habitat.”
Local or nearby awardees of this year’s Habitat Management Grant Program are:
• $36,500 to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Great Barrington, to conduct invasive species control at Housatonic Flats and Thomas and Palmer Preserves.
• $16,675 to the Franklin Land Trust, Heath and Plainfield, to enhance native shrub habitat on Crowningshield Farm (Heath) and Guyette Farm (Plainfield).
• $36,630 to the Town of Lenox, to conduct hardy kiwi invasive species control within Kennedy Park.
• $15,632 to the Sheffield Land Trust, to work to control invasive species at Ashley Falls Woods.
• $20,503 to the Nature Conservancy, Sheffield, to create and improve old field and shrubland habitats at the Schenob Brook Preserve.
• $15,500 to the Cherry Hill Realty Trust, Stockbridge, to remove the invasive hardy kiwi plant.
• $20,905 to the Town of Stockbridge, to treat invasive species at Gould Meadows and Bullard Woods.
• $24,493 to Mass Audubon, Tolland, to create shrubland habitat at the Richardson Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.
Winter Waterfowl Survey
Every 5 years, MassWildlife conducts a winter waterfowl survey of sites where people feed wild ducks and geese. While the feeding of wildlife is discouraged, there is no state law or regulation that prohibits feeding (though some municipalities do restrict or prohibit feeding). MassWildlife is asking the public’s assistance in reporting current waterfowl feeding locations for biologists to identify and count these birds.
The survey will be conducted statewide this month and includes sites in urban, suburban, and rural areas near fresh, brackish, and salt water. Feeding sites range from municipal parks where many visitors come to feed the ducks to ducks in backyards feeding on spilled bird seed or handouts thrown out someone’s back door.
MassWildlife biologists will visit historic feeding sites from January 8 to 26. Because these locations can change over 5 years, public input is needed. If you know of a spot where waterfowl are being fed, let them know by phone at 508-389-6321 or by e-mail at h.heusmann@state.ma.us. Include the town and specific location where you’ve seen waterfowl being fed this January. If you are able, also include the number of ducks and/or geese (preferably by species) that you see at a feeding site at one time.
Mallards are by far the most common duck at feeding sites but other ducks may be observed as well. American black ducks are common and wood ducks, pintails, gadwalls, American wigeon, and hooded mergansers are seen on occasion. Canada geese are common at many feeding sites.
MassWildlife’s survey started 45 years ago and documented the increase of mallards at feeding sites reaching peak numbers of over 20,000 mallards at 218 sites during the 1993 survey and declining thereafter. This decline can be attributed to more Canada geese utilizing the sites resulting in many areas being posted “No Feeding” because of the mess geese made. The last survey showed that the number of mallards was down to 9,700 at 139 sites along with nearly 1,600 geese (down from over 5,300 geese recorded during the 1998 survey).

Marlborough Flyfishing Show

The 2018 Fly Fishing Show will take place from January 19 through 21 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. There will be over 50 talks and demonstrations each day. While there, you might shop for the newest tackle, book your next dream trip, watch tying and casting demos and learn from the experts. There will be more than $40,000 in door prizes.

All the new rods, reels, fly tying materials, books, DVDs and latest equipment will be on display to test and purchase. There is a casting pond for casting demos and it is available to test your new rod. Some of the celebrity authors this year include Joe Humphreys, Gary Borger, Bob Clouser, Ed Engle, Sheila Hassan, Jason Randall, Bob Romano and others, and they will be happy to autograph your books.

Show Hours are: Friday: 10AM – 6PM, Saturday: 9AM – 5:30PM and Sunday: 9AM – 4:30PM. Ticket costs: One day $15, Two-day pass $25, Three-day pass $35, Children under 5 free, under 12: $2, Scouts under 16 in uniform: free and Active Military with ID: $10. Click onto www.flyfishingshow.com/Marlborough_for more details.

This is a must-attend event for New England flyfishers and flytyers. The next closest show of this magnitude is in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Ninety-one year old deer hunter scores again

Readers may recall an article I wrote about then 90-year old Lou Carmel of Hinsdale. The article, which ran on December 25, 2016, was entitled You are never too old to go deer hunting. In it I wrote about Lou’s amazing feat of traveling to the Saskatchewan Province in Canada by himself, hunting and bagging a large deer.
Well guess what, he went up there again in 2017. This time he was accompanied by his son-in-law Kevin Farrell of Dalton. They were there the first full week of November. They flew into the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan airport, spent the night in Saskatoon and the next day traveled about 4 hours to the deer camp in Neeb. That is located in the northwest part of Saskatchewan. Lou has hunted in that area for about 13 or 14 years. Some of the deer stands are 10 to 20 miles away from the camp, taking 1 ½ to 2 hours to get to get to them by 4 wheelers.
The first day of their hunt was cold. It had previously snowed but most of it was gone. Lou was posted in one hunting blind and Kevin in another over a mile away. The blinds had zippers and Lou had to crawl in and sit. He saw a couple of smaller deer and watched them for quite a long time, hoping a bigger deer would come along. Eventually, the two deer laid down and went to sleep, right in front of him. All of a sudden, they jumped up and ran. Lou surmised that something scared them. He then saw a buck about 100 yards away, aimed his gun and “Click”. He forgot to load his gun.
He hurridly put in a shell and “bang”, down went the buck. There was a little crevice there and the deer dropped out of sight. Lou thought he had hit it but couldn’t see it. He sat there for quite a while. He was feeling ill and had to take a trip outside the blind where the wind was blowing and snow flying. After taking care of business, he got back into the tent.
He saw a deer limping along near where he had previously shot and wondered if he had wounded that deer. He didn’t think so as he had drawn a bead on its shoulder. After he lost sight of the limping deer, Lou decided to re-load his gun just in case it came back. He tried to re-load it but couldn’t because he was shaking so much. He gave up on it, put the empty gun aside and bundled up the best that he could. Sometime later, he heard the blind zipper behind him and one of the guides asked how he was doing.
Lou told him that he shot at a deer. The guide said that he saw it down below Lou. They got into a 4-wheeler and found the deer. It was a 11 pointer and weighed about 220 lbs dressed. It was shot in the shoulder exactly where he had aimed. (Apparently the limping deer that Lou saw earlier was a different buck). Lou said that he perked up a little bit after that. The guide took a lot of pictures before taking Lou back to the camp where he had a nice hot shower. Not feeling that great, Lou stayed in the camp for the rest of the week.
There were a couple of fellas at the camp doing some filming for a TV show entitled “Born to Hunt”. The program, which is broadcast in English and French, probably featured Lou and his deer.
Lou said that if Kevin didn’t go up with him this year, he probably wouldn’t have gone alone. “Its wild country up there and I don’t know if I will ever go back on another trip”, he said, “but then again, I said that last year”.
Incidentally, Kevin also bagged an 11 pointer, but his was not as large as Lou’s. His weighed around 200 lbs dressed. They ate back straps from the deer for a couple of meals, kept the antlers and donated the rest of the meat to some needy families up there that lived nearby.
I wrote it in last year’s column and repeat it again…… Lou Carmel is an inspiration to us all.
A deer hunting family
Three generations of the McCarthy family of Williamstown, MA have special reason to celebrate a successful muzzleloader deer hunt that they participated in on Saturday, December 16. Their classic New England deer hunt is a perfect example of a family embracing, enjoying, and ultimately celebrating, each other’s company, memories, and love, through the hunt.
The McCarthys have lived in Williamstown for many generations and are active members of the community. What’s notable about this family is that deer hunting and other outdoor activities are not limited to the McCarthy men for many of the McCarthy women are active participants in these long-held family traditions and, they’ve had their share of success!

Robert (Bob) McCarthy Jr. has been the town’s tree warden and owned and operated Robert McCarthy Tree and Landscaping for many years. The entire family is involved in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities, and many of them are active members and officers in the local East Mountain Sportsman’s Club. Bob is an EMSC delegate to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen and received its Silvio O. Conte Sportsman of the Year Award in 1987. Bob’s late wife, Juliann, enjoyed gardening, hunting and fishing.

On Saturday, the family patriarch, Bob, met his son Travas, on a parcel of land that has been in the family for many generations. Along with Travas was his wife Tammy, and their two children, TJ and Naomi. The purpose of this “family meeting” was to organize a deer drive. Conditions were perfect for the hunt; there was fresh snow on the ground and the wind was blowing out of the north. The plan was finalized with Bob, TJ and Naomi being posted as standers and Tammy and Travas being the drivers.

Bob, TJ and Naomi set up a few hundred yards apart from each other along the crest of a ridge and waited with the hopes that the drivers would move a deer into range.

As Naomi sat tucked up against a fallen tree, she watched the hillside below for any sign of deer moving her way. To her surprise, the sign didn’t come from in front, but from behind her. She heard the slightest noise and slowly turned to see two large bucks standing about 35 yards from her. Now, this wasn’t Naomi’s first successful hunt for she’s taken a few deer in the past, but, to have two rack bucks standing 35-yards away and staring you down, would rattle any hunter!

Naomi did her best to slowly turn and get her muzzleloader up for a shot. But big bucks don’t get big by waiting around, and they both bounded away. The young hunter wasn’t deterred for she let out a doe bleat and one of the bucks stopped at 50 yards. Naomi took aim and dropped the hammer on her muzzleloader. Surrounded by black powder smoke, she couldn’t see if the deer had dropped or run off. When the smoke cleared she slowly walked over to where the deer had been standing. At first, she couldn’t find any sign of a hit but, she started to track the big buck on her own and after walking a short distance, she saw the deer’s rack sticking up out of the snow. She had made a perfect shot!

Soon the whole family was gathered around the deer and celebrating Naomi’s success. High fives and hugs were generously exchanged, and a few tears were shed too. You see, Naomi’s grandmother, Juliann, the first female member of the East Mountain Sportsman’s Club and a great hunter in her own right, had passed away exactly one year ago. As the family stood around the buck, Naomi’s grandfather, Bob, gave her a big hug, wiped his eyes, and said to her, “Grandma would be very proud of you. Very proud indeed”.

Then on Saturday, December 30, with one day left in the Primitive Firearms season, the McCarthy’s assembled again to enjoy one more hunt together in 2017.

This time it was TJ McCarthy who took the honors by shooting a large coyote. To cap of the year, the three generations of the McCarthy family gathered once again to celebrate a successful hunt together.

Many thanks to George Hamilton III, of Pittsfield, who wrote this excellent McCarthy article.

Voluntary Public Access

There will be an information session on Wednesday evening, January 10, about a new program that aims to increase public access on privately-owned land for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking by providing financial incentives to landowners. The information session will be held from 6-7:30 pm at the Visitor’s Center at Notchview on Route 9 in Windsor, MA.

This Voluntary Public Access (VPA) program is led by the Franklin Land Trust, in partnership with the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, and the MA Forest Alliance. Through funding provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, landowners may be able to receive compensation for allowing the public to hunt, fish, birdwatch, and hike on their property by participating in this program.

The program is open to landowners in 28 towns in the northwestern region of the state.
Visit the VPA website for information about the participating towns, eligibility, funding rates, how to apply, and upcoming workshops.

Four generations of hunting tradition for the Curtins.


In 1967 Neil Curtin, of Tyringham, and his brothers bought 60 acres of land in Monterey at the top of the mountain on the Tyringham-Monterey line. They built a deer camp that September. The first day of shotgun season he shot a nice 8-point buck at the old birch tree up on the side hill where he had decided would be a good spot. That was the very first day of the then new Massachusetts bucks only law, unless you had an antlerless deer permit. That birch tree was where Neil’s son John Curtin got his first deer a few years later. Neil and John’s uncle Peter Curtin are gone now, as well as the old birch.

But this year John’s 16-year old grandson, Colby Curtin, went to the old birch and shot a 175 lb black bear. He was very excited and a little rattled by the experience. “My father would never have thought a black bear would be shot at that spot when he shot that deer 50 years ago”, John said. (There were few if any bears around there then, in spite of the fact that the mountain is called Beartown Mountain.)

Also, later in the same day Colby’s dad and John’s son, Michael Curtin, shot another bear. Then to top the day off John’s son Mark Curtin, shot a 6-point buck.

John said that he got to walk about 3 miles that day and (got) nothing. “What I did get was a great deal of satisfaction and a lot of good memories!” said John.

Black Bears

Black bears typically enter their winter dens at this time of year and exit between March and April. Bears commonly den in brush piles, in mountain laurel thickets, or under fallen trees or rocks. If food is available, bears that are not pregnant may remain active throughout the winter.

Incidentally, black bears mate in summer and don’t give birth until January, after being pregnant only for 2 months. This isn’t a riddle, it’s delayed implantation! After breeding, the fertilized egg develops into a tiny ball of cells that remains free-floating in the uterus. If the female is well-nourished, the cells will implant in the uterine wall in November, and she’ll give birth to 1–4 cubs after 2 months.

In his December report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden noted that over 60 bears were harvested statewide during this year’s shotgun deer hunting season. He suspects there will be even more when the final figures come in. Some 120 or so were harvested during the September bear hunting season and 23 were harvested in the November season.

Deer
The harvest figures for the archery hunting season have not been released yet, but it appears to have been a very good year, perhaps a potential record year. That’s according to Madden. It’s also too early for the preliminary figures of the shotgun deer hunting season, but the Western District deer checking stations reported a “solid” first week.
In the above referenced County League report, Madden presented graphics illustrating the age structure and antler beam diameters for Massachusetts deer. In the Western District (Wildlife Management Zones 1 – 4), statistics show that 46% of the harvested deer were 1 ½ years old or younger; 27% were aged 2 1/2 years and 27% were aged 3 to 5+ years. Those are the exact ages at which MassWildlife wants our herd to be.
Illustrations were also presented giving the Western District average yearling male antler beam diameter. Measured in millimeters, they hope the diameters would fall between 15 and 17 millimeters. Below 15 millimeters would indicate that the food supply is not sufficient to grow the body and antlers which would mean the herd is in trouble. Here in the Western District, the average figure was 18.2 inches which exceeded their highest hopes. That is an indication of an ample food supply and a really healthy deer herd.
That’s why MassWildlife requires hunters to bring deer to a biological check station during the first week of the shotgun season, so they can collect this important information.
Incidentally, did you hear about the massive, 31-point buck taken by bow hunter Patrick Craig of Ancramdale, NY? He took the deer on state land in Columbia County and would only reveal that it was in the Taconic Mountains near the New York/ Massachusetts border. It weighed 265 pounds after being field dressed, which would equate to about 330 lbs on the hoof. It had an atypical rack. He estimated the deer was about 8 years old. “I don’t know how it was eating.” He said, “It’s back teeth were ground down to the bottom.” “This was an old buck – a monster,” he concluded. “One backstrap weighed almost 12 pounds.”
To see pictures and read more about that deer, google Upstate NY Outdoors. The article is written by David Figura, outdoors writer for NYup.com/ The Post-Standard newspaper.
Becoming an Outdoors Woman Deer Hunt
Congratulations to the nineteen women statewide who participated in the recent BOW Deer Hunt. MassWildlife thanks all of its “fantastic” volunteer mentors. Two of the women had success and dropped nice bucks. One of those bucks had a beautiful 8-point rack, definitely suitable for mounting. You can see pictures of the lucky women and their bucks by logging onto the MassWildlife Facebook page and scroll back a week or so.
The deer hunting seminar and guided hunt is designed for women (18 and older) who are new to deer hunting. In the seminar, participants learn about deer behavior, what to wear, what gear to bring on a deer hunt, deer management, sighting in a firearm and other useful tips. Then comes the guided deer hunt. No previous hunting experience is required for the seminar and registration priority is given to new hunters.
Reminder to gamebird and archery deer hunters

If you completed a MassWildlife log while hunting game birds or during archery deer season, it’s time to send them in. Hunters who submit completed logs before December 20, 2017 will be entered in a drawing to win a blaze orange MassWildlife cap or a Massachusetts Wildlife 1-year magazine subscription. You can email scanned logs to mass.wildlife@state.ma.us or mail completed forms to MassWildlife, Attn: Game bird hunting log / Archery deer hunting log, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Fishing and Boating Access Maps
Anglers, check out the new Fishing & Boating Access Maps and give the Office of Fishing and Boating Access your feedback. Go to the MassWildlife web page and search boating maps and access. One of the new features gives directions to access sites via Google Maps. http://arcg.is/2iVtliH. The OFBA provides boat and canoe access sites, shore fishing areas, and sport fishing piers at more than 275 locations on coastal waters, great ponds and rivers throughout Massachusetts.
Habitat Work
If you have been noticing some sawing and other activity lately on the Peru Wildlife Management Area off of Mongue Road, fear not. DFW Western District Staff is continuing habitat work in there this month. The area of work is a hilltop that was clear-cut in 2003. Their goal is to clear the area to reset the clock for establishing young forest conditions. Such work is very important in encouraging early successional growth which is good for wildlife and song birds.

DFW Director Jack Buckley to outdoor sporting community: Thank you!

That’s the message he gave in the 2018 Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Laws. In it he acknowledged that, “What (DFW) does would not be possible without the strong support of you, the sporting community. Although we manage wildlife for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens of the Commonwealth, you are the financial backbone of the agency through your purchase of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Your willingness to step up to support land acquisition and the Heritage Program demonstrated the broad view of the interconnectedness and importance of all wildlife.”
The 2018 Guides are now available and can be obtained at the usual locations as well as downloading on-line. The cover of this year’s Guide features a woodcock. This should make retired MA Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey happy as he is an avid woodcock hunter and has devoted much time and treasure to enhance and preserve their habitat.
Sportsmen usually pick up a copy when they renew their licenses. However; it occurred to me that there are many people who don’t hunt, fish or trap and consequently don’t get to read the annual Guide. Perhaps they would like to know what the Director has to say. It is for them that I am reprinting the Director’s comments:
“This Guide, in addition to being a summary of fish and wildlife laws and regulations, is also a catalogue of outdoor recreational opportunities in the Commonwealth that reflect on the health of our fisheries and wildlife populations. We are the beneficiaries of decades of environmental laws directed at cleaning our rivers and streams and the air we breathe. In addition to the recreational benefits, these laws have generated thousands of jobs in the outdoor recreation industry. We should not take these benefits for granted, and should be vigilant and vocal to oppose those that want to undermine these protections.”
“In many ways, the “good old days” weren’t that good. MassWildlife has both created new or expanded projects and programs to benefit hunters, anglers, and others who enjoy the Commonwealth’s natural resources.”
“Lake and pond maps are one of our most popular products and serve as an excellent mechanism to lure anglers to unfamiliar waters or help them catch more fish at their favorite fishing hole. Some of our lake and pond maps were first hand-drawn in the early 1900s and remain unchanged; others were revised in the 1980s. Because of their popularity, we have recently invested a considerable and coordinated effort to bring the maps into the 21st century. Using new technological tools, the revised maps are designed to address the needs of anglers, boaters, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts who may not know where and how to access lakes and ponds.”
“The maps provide up-to-date information on boat ramp and fishing area locations and display the bathymetry, or bottom contours, of the pond. Anglers and boaters will appreciate the accurate and detailed mapping of contours and depths, drop-offs, shallows, and structure. Available on our website, anyone on the water with a mobile device can easily access the maps. Our plan is to revise as many maps as possible each year, focusing on the most popular and publicly accessible lakes and ponds. If your favorite lake or pond hasn’t been updated yet, stay tuned!”
“Annually, MassWildlife stocks more than 560,000 rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout providing an excellent recreational opportunity on lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers statewide.
However, few people know about the rich variety of wild trout waters with which the Commonwealth is blessed. MassWildlife has identified more than 1,200 streams supporting coldwater loving fish and other aquatic species. These important coldwater resources are located and mapped; giving our staff a better understanding of the quality of the fisheries that exist. The work started in the western part of the state and will move east over the next few years.”
“So far, our biologists working in these streams have been astounded at the high quality of some of these fisheries. The information we gather will be used to advocate for habitat protection and to better inform the angling public about the wealth of resources available to them. Providing access for public wildlife related recreation has always been an agency priority.”
“The case of the Piping Plover is an excellent example of MassWildlife’s continuing efforts to increase recreation opportunities while maintaining our public trust responsibilities to fish and wildlife. A state and federally threatened shorebird in Massachusetts, approximately 10,000 adult Piping Plovers exist worldwide. Biologists have determined that around 40% of the breeding Piping Plovers on the Atlantic Coast of North America nest on coastal beaches in Massachusetts. Due to sound management by municipalities, beach managers, and property owners, the Massachusetts Piping Plover population increased significantly during the past 30 years—a conservation success that has also led to increased challenges in managing recreational beach use by the public. After extensive consultation with recreational beach user-groups, conservation organizations, coastal anglers, municipal representatives, landowners, and others, MassWildlife obtained a permit from the USFWS that enables beach managers to participate in the Piping Plover Statewide Conservation Plan (HCP).”
“Designed to maintain a robust population of Piping Plovers the HCP allows for increased recreational access options. In 2017, seven beaches participated in the HCP, leading to tangible, recognizable increases in recreational access for anglers, sunbathers, over sand vehicle users, and others. The HCP exemplifies MassWildlife’s approach to endangered species regulation; streamlining the permitting process, maximizing flexibility for landowners, avoiding unnecessary conflict, and focusing on conservation outcomes. MassWildlife looks forward to continuing to work with more beach operators to implement the HCP. “
“MassWildlife protects over 210,000 acres for wildlife and wildlife-related recreation. While we will continue to add to this land base, protection through acquisition represents only one of many elements of fish and wildlife management. Active land management activities such as mowing, tree-cutting, invasive plant control and prescribed fire is essential if we are to continue to maintain and enhance wildlife populations. In fiscal year 2017, MassWildlife habitat biologists “treated” about 2,385 acres of wildlife habitat across the state. Toward that end, MassWildlife’s goal is to expand its habitat management activities on Wildlife Management Areas. The results of these activities also enhance wildlife-related recreation whether you are a grouse hunter, a naturalist or a birder. Visit some of our actively managed lands to experience the benefits of active habitat management.”
Licenses are on sale
The 2018 MA Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping Licenses are now on sale. They can be purchased on-line through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a MassWildlife office. Remember, during December, it is possible to purchase either a 2017 or a 2018 license; therefore, license buyers should use care selecting the year when making a purchase. Incidentally, there has been no license fee increases this year.
New this year, the Massachusetts Wildlife magazine subscriptions can also be ordered through the MassFishHunt license purchasing system using a credit card. One year (4 issues) for $6. Two years (8 issues) for $10. It’s a great little magazine, well worth the money.
Primitive Firearms Deer Hunting Season
Tomorrow the Primitive Firearms season opens and runs through December 30. This is the last chance for hunters to bag a deer this year. A Primitive Firearms stamp is required and there are special regulations governing this season. Archers may hunt during this season but must purchase the Primitive Firearms stamp.
Hunters are hoping for some snow so that they can track the deer and have a better chance for success. Have a great time out there, be careful and keep your powder dry!

Beware of rabid coyotes

 

According to MassWildlife, a coyote attacked 2 people in North Attleboro on November 20, 2017 while police were responding to calls about a coyote acting oddly. The North Attleboro police killed the coyote and sent it to the Department of Public Health (DPH) for rabies testing. Subsequently, DPH test results confirmed the coyote was rabid. MassWildlife is reminding the public to report any unusual animal behavior to local authorities and to take specific actions which reduces contact with coyotes.

In a recent press release, they stated that attacks by coyotes on people are a rare and unusual event. The North Attleboro attacks are the eighth and ninth documented attacks on people by coyotes since the 1950’s. Of the seven prior attacks, two coyotes were confirmed as rabid and three others were suspected as rabid, but the animals could not be captured for testing. The last coyote attack on a person was in the town of Kingston in 2015.

Rabies is a very serious disease affecting the nervous system of mammals, including cats, dogs, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and people. Rabies is caused by a virus and is almost always fatal. The virus found in saliva is usually spread from animal to animal or to people through bites. People who have been bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal should contact their health care provider. In most cases, immediate treatment for rabies exposure is necessary. If a pet has been attacked, owners should contact their veterinarian for advice.

MassWildlife urges the public to report any observations of wild or domestic mammals displaying symptoms of this fatal disease to local animal control officers. There are two kinds of symptoms, the “furious form” and the “dumb form”. Furious form symptoms include aggressive attacks on people or other animals, or random biting of objects. Dumb form symptoms are exhibited by animals acting sick, dazed, or paralyzed.

Rabies in coyotes is relatively uncommon. Since 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has tested 14 coyotes for rabies. Cumulative reports from the DPH summarizing rabies testing from 1992-2002 and annual reports from 2003 to 2016 are available on the DPH website and can be found at www.mass.gov/dph/rabies.

Coyotes live in rural, suburban, and urban areas throughout Massachusetts except for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Coyotes thrive where people live because there is a lot of food available–including garbage, fruit trees, bird seed, and suet. Small pets as well as wildlife attracted to birdfeeders are also a potential meal for coyotes. Coyote attacks on pets are not unusual; loose pets are at risk of attack by coyotes or other wildlife. Cats and small dogs are viewed as a potential meal for coyotes, while larger dogs, especially when off-leash, may be viewed by coyotes as a threat.

Interestingly, the subject of a recent rash of fox and raccoon rabies incidents in the Northern Berkshires was discussed during the October Meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen. Sportsmen were advised to be aware and forewarned.

To prevent contact with coyotes, MassWildlife recommends the following actions:

Remove all types of food: Coyotes eat bird seed, suet, and the small wildlife attracted to feeders. They also raid garbage and compost piles. Secure garbage in plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep them secure. Take out trash when the morning pick-up is scheduled, not the previous night. Remove bird feeders.

Stay outside with your pet: Pet owners should be present outside with their pets at all times and keep them under control, preferably on a leash. Unsupervised pets left outdoors are at risk of attack by coyotes or other animals. The presence of a human generally discourages coyotes.

For more tips on avoiding problems with coyotes, see MassWildlife’s Living With Coyotes Fact Sheet.

Coyote Derby
Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield is having its Coyote Derby again this year. It will run until the end of coyote hunting season which is March 8, 2018. Entrance fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded to the person who bags the most coyotes, the largest coyote and there will also be a random draw.
Don’t import deer from out of state
To keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from spreading to Massachusetts, it is illegal to import deer parts (from any deer species) from states or provinces where CWD has been detected. This includes OH, MD, NY, PA, VA, WV, and many other states. Live deer of any species may not be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose. It is legal to bring in deboned meat, clean skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that is 100% fatal to all cervids, including deer, elk, and moose. It attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to exhibit abnormal behavior, become emaciated, and eventually die. Infected deer can spread the infectious agents through urine, feces, saliva, etc. for months before showing clinical symptoms. The infectious agents are in very high concentrations in the brain and spinal tissue, so an infected carcass left on the landscape can be a major problem. The infectious agents can remain in the soil for over 10 years and can be taken up into the leaves of plants that deer eat.
If you see a deer or moose in Massachusetts exhibiting any signs of this disease or any other disease, please contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.
So far, no CWD infected deer have been found in Massachusetts. Let’s try to keep it that way.
IDPA
The International Defensive Pistol Association will be holding a 2-Gun match on Sunday, December 10, weather permitting, at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association. It starts at 12:00 pm and ends at 4:30 pm. Shotgun and/or pistol, 3 stages, 30 #7 shot shell 150 pistol. Contact ssullee@icloud.com for more information. Also, all scheduled event information is listed at www.leesportsmen.com.
TU Holiday Party

The Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited is having its annual Holiday Party on Thursday, December 14 at the Crissey Farm @ Barrington Brewery, 420 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington. For the first time in chapter history, it’s Holiday party will be opened to the general public. It will be a buffet dinner which costs $30 pp. Social Hour with hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 PM. The event features a Door Prize and Donation Bucket Raffle. For more information call Bill Travis at (413)-447-9720 or email: traviswdt547@gmail.com. Reservations must be made by December 9.

Shotgun deer hunting season opens tomorrow


Shotgun Deer Hunting Season. That’s the hunting season that many hunters look forward to and for which they reserve their vacation days. The season runs through December 9. Deer can be taken by shotgun, archery or muzzleloader. Currently, MassWildlife estimates that there are more than 100,000 deer across the state

I know I’m repeating myself in this column but hunters please remember that if you harvest a deer during the first week of shotgun deer hunting season, you must bring it to a physical check station to allow biologists to collet important data needed for deer management. New this year, deer harvested during the second week may be reported online. Reporting is required within 48 hours of harvest.

Hunters must have 500 square inches of visible hunter orange on chest, back and head, regardless of the hunting implement used. Hunter orange cannot be concealed even when using a hunting blind.

No hunting on Sunday.

Incidentally, be advised that the deer and wood ticks are very bad this year. Be sure to take the usual preventative steps.

Here’s wishing you all a very enjoyable and safe shotgun deer hunting season.

The Archery Deer Hunting season ended yesterday. It’s too early for harvest totals, but we know of some pretty big bucks that were harvested during the season. For example, a 227 lbs, 10-point buck (certified weight) was taken in Becket by James Underhill of Pittsfield. Josh Herlihy took a buck weighing 210 lbs in Lee, a 213 lbs, 10-point buck was taken in Colrain, and a 258 lbs, 10- point buck was taken in Pembroke.

If you have a permit to hunt black bear and have not harvested one yet, you can also hunt them during shotgun deer hunting season. Be sure to check the regulations governing this season as well.

Lucky Lena

Even though she is only 13 years old, Lena Ungewitter has been shooting for years. She has been shooting since she was approximately 4 years old with her dad Erik. She shoots gun, bow and crossbow. This year she shot the pictured buck on the afternoon of the special Youth Hunt Day on September 30 in Southern Berkshire with a .50 caliber muzzleloader gun. This is her 2nd buck taken on Youth Hunt Day.

She took aim and shot at the big buck about 35-yards away. It kicked and ran off. Erik looked at her and she said “Dad, I smoked him. Did you hear him fall? He’s dead!” He said that she was shaking badly with the biggest smile on her face. She tracked the deer and found it about 40 yards from where she shot it and was shocked at the size of him. She had trouble picking up his head up. “He’s huge!” she said.

“What an unbelievable experience!” said Erik. Reading his narrative, it is difficult to see who was the most excited and proud, Lena or him.

The deer weighed 182 lb field dressed and had a perfect thick 8-point rack. (It is estimated that a 182 lbs field-dressed deer would weigh close to 230 lbs on the hoof.) They weighed the deer at a butcher shop’s scale.
They had about a 300 yard drag down a skidder trail to get the deer out. Thankfully, Erik keeps his jet sled in his truck at all times during hunting season for that reason. (A jet sled is a heavy- duty plastic sled used primarily for ice fishing, but it is also very useful in dragging a deer out of the woods.)
Lena opted to do a European Skull mount instead of a shoulder mount. Even though Erik gave her the green light on the mount, she prefers the European.

Reminder: Some Appalachian Trail Lands are Off-Limits to Hunting

The AMC Berkshire Chapter Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Committee, who are partners with DCR and the National Park Service for A.T. management in Massachusetts, recently issued the following press release: “Hunters are reminded that certain segments of the lands surrounding the A.T. are off limits to hunting. While about half of the A.T. is on Massachusetts State Forest lands (where normal hunting rules regarding safety zones around trails and buildings apply), the other half of the Trail is on lands owned and managed by the National Park Service, where, like other National Parks, hunting is prohibited.

These “A.T. Corridor Lands” are marked along their boundaries with yellow paint blazes on trees and “US Boundary” signs approximately every 500ft along the line. The Trail Corridor is roughly 1,000 feet wide, but may be wider in some locations (such as the Upper Goose Pond area) or narrower where the Trail crosses a road. Hunters may traverse these lands (and use the A.T.) to access other properties where hunting is permitted, but may not hunt from or take game from Trail lands.

Similarly, hunting stands and blinds are not permitted on Trail Lands at any time. Trail Corridor Lands are patrolled and stands and blinds found in the Corridor will be tagged with information notifying the owner that the stand is illegal and must be removed within 30 days. If the owner does not remove the stand or is found to be hunting on NPS lands, fines of up to $5000 may be levied by the National Park Service. A six-month jail sentence is also possible if convicted. Stands left more than 30 days will be considered abandoned property by the National Park Service, and will be removed and disposed of. Tags placed on stands will explain the regulation and include a phone number where owners can call the Park Service for more information. Hunters with questions may contact the Appalachian Trail National Park Acting Chief Ranger <carin_farley@nps.gov>. Locally, A.T. managers can be contacted at <at@amcberkshire.org>.

Hikers may wish to refrain from using trails during shotgun season, the busiest part of deer season (Mondays through Saturdays Nov 27th through Dec 9th). It is not possible when hiking on the AT to determine whether one is on state or NPS land–in some cases, land ownership can change several times in a few miles of trail. Hikers, bikers, and others using local trails should wear bright colors through the end of the year, as other deer hunting seasons are in effect both before and after the shotgun season”.

Firearms safety courses
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having a License-to-Carry / UTAH firearms course on Saturday, December 2 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. It is a Massachusetts State Police Compliant course. The cost is $70 for LTC, $125 for UTAH and $150 for both. Preregistration required. Contact Tom Nadolny at (413)822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com or Dennis Leydet at (413)329-7081 or djleydet@gmail.com.
The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club is having a live fire NRA & Massachusetts State Police Certified Firearms Safety Course on Sunday December 3 from 9:00AM to about 4:30PM. You are asked to be there by 8:45 to sign in. This course is to qualify MA residents and non-resident for the MA License-To-Carry or FID Card. It will be a hands-on live firing, one- day course. A full lunch will be provided as well as a $10 gift certificate to Pete’s Gun Shop. The cost is $100 and covers all ammo, safety gear, class materials, certificates, a hardcover NRA textbook and food. Interested parties are asked to pre-register by calling or stopping in at Pete’s Gun Shop at 413-743-0780.

Incidentally, the Massachusetts LTC is now recognized for concealed carry in 29 states, including: Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Check with Pete’s Gun Shop periodically for new additions.

Residents of Vermont can get the MA Non-Resident LTC by taking this course, and if National Reciprocity legislation passes they can then take advantage of it.

Paraplegic hunters enjoy another special day


According to Trina Moruzzi, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife Supervisory Biologist and Paraplegic Deer Hunt Coordinator, sixteen hunters participated statewide in the paraplegic hunts which were held on November 2 through 4. Three deer were harvested, all bucks- one in Southern Berkshires, one at Devens and one at Otis/Edwards. This translates to a 19% success rate for this year’s hunt. In the past five years, these hunters have averaged around a 25% harvest success rate.
Here in the Berkshires, six hunters participated this year – four in the southern and two in the northern Berkshires sites.
The southern Berkshires folks hunted in the Mount Washington area and it was coordinated out of the DCR Headquarters there. Fred Lampro and Mark Portiere headed it up this year. The hunters were: Sidney Eichstedt of Lee, Greg Baumli of New Lebanon, NY, Steve Gladding of Westfield, MA and Vyto Sablevicius of Norwich, MA. Helpers included: Shaun Smith, Brian Ingerson, Marc Portieri, Greg Arienti, Rick Thelig, Tom Dean, Paul Antonozzi, Fred Lampro, Al Vincent, Paul Mullins and Chuck Pickert, all from the Berkshires or northern Connecticut.
For the 9th year in a row, Chuck Pickert brought his trailer-mounted smoker/grill and cooked breakfasts and lunches for the three days. Tricia Vollmer made the fish chowder and other individuals also prepared the desserts and other food needed for the three-day event. A lot of friends who own restaurants and businesses donated food and condiments. I intentionally arrived there on Friday, just before lunch. On that day, the lunch menu was: homemade fish chowder, smoked pot roast, smoked Vidalia onion gravy, Luau baked beans (with pineapple) and home-made desserts. The day before, Pickert prepared a smoked pork loin lunch.

So how did the hunt go this year? A button buck was taken the first day by Sidney Eichstedt. Over the last 20 years that he has been participating in the paraplegic hunt, he has taken 14 deer. Three of the four other hunters saw deer. I didn’t get to see the deer as it was already cut up.

The volunteers are amazing. They did a lot of prep work by scouting several areas and placing trail cameras to see where the best deer activity was. They analyzed the pictures to determine the best places in which to place the hunters. They set up wooden ramps on which to place the wheelchairs, transported the hunters to the locations and helped to drive the deer toward the hunters. If a hunter shot a deer, they tracked it, field dressed it and dragged it to the hunter’s van. In Sidney’s case, one of the volunteers even drove the deer to a butcher to be cut up that evening.

This year, one of the hunters and his volunteers encountered two other deer hunters who planned to hunt the same area. When they learned that paraplegic hunters wanted to hunt the area, they graciously left the woods with no hard feelings.

The two hunters at the Northern Berkshires site were: Dale Bailey of Clarksburg and Shawn Mei of Baldwinville, MA. Volunteer included Rick French, Alex Daigle, Tony Mei, Stacy Sylvester, and J. Sylvester. They hunted in the Williamstown area but had no luck.
DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden and his staff of Nate Buckhout, Jacob Morris-Siegel, Derek McDermott and Ray Bressette were on hand at both sites to help out and check in the deer.

“Since 1972, this hunt has provided thousands of hours of recreational opportunities for paraplegic sportsmen and women and I am proud to be part of it.” said Moruzzi. She noted that volunteers are integral to the program and thanked them all for their enthusiasm and commitment. There is some concern that the numbers of hunters taking advantage of the paraplegic hunt have been dwindling, mainly due to their aging or passing away. If you are a paraplegic sportsman or sportswoman interested in participating in the 2018 hunt, contact Trina Moruzzi at trina.moruzzi@state.ma.us or call (508) 389-6318.
Incidentally, the definition for paraplegic per 321 CMR 2.06 states: “(b) Paraplegic: A Division (MassWildlife) application form completed by the applicant and an attestation on the form by a physician that the applicant is a person who has total paralysis of the lower half of the body, or a condition that prevents any use of the lower limbs.”
2017 Tri-Club Champions
Congratulations to the Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club which won the 2017 Tri-Club Championship Skeet Tournament. The scores were: Sheffield Sportsmen’s Club: 1350, Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club: 1348, and Lee Sportsmen’s Association: 1216
Lee Donsbough was the high scorer for Sheffield. The “Iron Man Shoot” at Sheffield was won by Buddy Atwood. High trap was won by Mike DiGiovani and high skeet was won by Ryan Simmons. The 50 5-Stand, 25 Skeet and 25 Trap are shot in this contest.

Shotgun Deer Hunting Revisions
Shotgun deer hunting season will be starting on November 27. A new regulation revision is that hunters must check in their deer at a deer checking station the first week, but can check their deer on-line during the second week of shotgun deer season.

Also, DFW Western District Supervisor Madden recently reported that there is a new deer checking station in East Otis. It is Papa’s Healthy Food & Fuel, 2000 East Otis Road, Otis, MA, 413-269-7779. It will be open for the first week of Shotgun Season only with the special hours: from November 27 through December 2, 2017, Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

Shortnose Sturgeon
In August, near the Vernon Dam, in Vernon, VT, an angler caught and released alive a shortnose sturgeon. This is the first confirmed case of a shortnose sturgeon living above the Turners Falls, MA Dam. It was thought that the dam and the natural waterfall there had always been the limit of where these fish lived in the river. This is exciting news for the sturgeon, which is endangered in the Connecticut River.

However, this also has implications for the hydroelectric facilities in the region, particularly the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage facility. It’s critical that their equipment function in a way that does not harm these fish. And the problem with Northfield Mountain is there’s not any protection against fish – big or small – from being drawn into the intake pipes.

The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), which issued this news release, was already on top of the problems with the intake pipes before the shortnose sturgeon was caught. It will be even more committed to ensuring that this problem be fixed when the new FERC hydro licenses are issued.

Young pheasant hunters enjoyed a wonderful day

On Saturday, October 7, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association held its Annual Young Adult Pheasant Hunt. That was the day before the opening of the regularly scheduled opening day of pheasant hunting season which MassWildlife reserves just for youths. LSA has held the hunt since 2006 in partnership with MassWildlife. This year, six youths participated in the hunt and every one harvested two pheasant each which is the daily limit. (I hope you noticed that four of the hunters were young ladies).
At the LSA, John Polastri of Becket, heads up the program and he is also a mentor. In addition to John, other mentors this year were George Haddad, Mike Gigliotti, Dick Salice, Doug Frank, Carl Hines and Mike Kelly and their dogs which included two Brittany Spaniels, 2 German Shorthairs and an English Cocker Spaniel. (Sorry, I don’t have their names). The dogs’ jobs were to find, point and flush the birds.
The Young Adult Pheasant Hunt Program builds the confidence of young hunters (ages 12-17) in a safe, friendly environment. They don’t need to be club members to participate.
These young hunters didn’t just walk into the fields and started shooting birds. First, they had to complete the Basic Hunter Education Program. Then, if they were 15 years or older, they had to obtain a Firearms Identification Card (FID). Then they had to find a nearby club to participate with for the seminar and hunt. Then they had to attend the Pheasant Seminar which included hands-on instruction in shotgun shooting fundamentals and firearm safety, how to have a safe and fun hunt, and information on upland hunting basics. Then onto the hunt to experience a real pheasant hunt under the supervision of an experienced hunter, who hopefully had a good bird dog.
At the LSA, John Polastri also gets the youths out onto the skeet field before the actual hunt for some skeet shooting practice. On the morning of the hunt, the kids had a good breakfast at the clubhouse, and at noon, they enjoyed a nice lunch. Later on, they were taught how to clean the pheasants. John thinks this is important because he doesn’t want them needlessly killing them and wasting the meat. (I hope their parents got hold of a good pheasant recipe and cooked up some pheasant under glass. Pheasant meat is a delicacy which only the finest restaurants have on their menus.)
I wonder if they saved any of the pheasant feathers for decorations. Also, the pheasant tail is an important feather for tying flies. The Pheasant Tail Nymph is an excellent trout fly which many, if not most anglers carry with them when they head for the streams.
Local participating sportsmen’s clubs are as follows:
Worthington Rod and Gun Club (Worthington)
Contact: Walter Fritz Jr.
(413) 238-5841
Email: ridgerdizzaboo@verizon.net
Lee Sportsmen’s Club (Lee)
Contact: John Polastri
(413) 822-8278
East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club (Williamstown)
Contact: Tom Brule
Email: tom.brule@gmail.com
To find out more about this program, click onto the MassWildlife web page. If you have more questions about the program, contact the Youth Hunt Coordinator Astrid Huseby at (508)-389-6305. Our local Western District Office in Dalton can help you also. (413) 684-1646.
Incidentally, it is worth noting that the LSA raises its own pheasants and stocks them on public lands twice a week. About 500 of them are stocked annually which can be hunted by the general public. Club member Brian Fenner heads up that effort along with help from David Morris.
If you are one of the pheasant hunters who benefits from their stocking program, please know it is fairly expensive to raise them. A great way to thank the LSC is to attend their pheasant rearing fundraising meal on the last Sunday in January.
New MassWildlife web page
All Massachusetts government websites are migrating to a new system, which means you will start to notice changes to the look and functionality of MassWildlife web pages. If you have any trouble finding information, go to Mass.gov/masswildlife and use the internal search box. With the new search engine, you should be able to find what you need on all mass.gov pages easier and faster than before. The new website is optimized for viewing on a tablet or phone as well as a desktop. MassWildlife asks that you please bear with them while they complete the website migration and make adjustments and improvements over the coming weeks. Also, MassWildlife recently announced that they are now on Instagram. Follow them @mass.wildlife for fish and wildlife news and photos and videos from the field.
Three Mile Pond Access Project –
Three Mile Pond, a 168-acre impoundment owned by MassWildlife, is the largest pond in Sheffield. It is part of the Three Mile Pond Wildlife Management Area which is 1,065.7 acres in size. Recently, MassWildlife announced that it has begun a project to improve boat access on the pond. This is a joint effort funded by MassWildife, Ducks Unlimited, the Outdoor Heritage Foundation, and the Office of Fishing and Boating Access. The project, which should be completed next spring, will result in a more usable parking and access for anglers and waterfowl hunters.
Elections
It’s that time for the sportsmen’s clubs to hold their annual elections.
Recently, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited elected Henry Swerin of Dalton its President, William Travis of Pittsfield its Treasurer and Fran Marzotto of Pittsfield its Secretary. The VP position is open.
At its last monthly meeting, the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen elected Tom Brule of Florida, MA its President, Wayne Mclain of North Adams its VP, Dan Kruszyna of Cheshire its Treasurer and me its Secretary.
Remembering our veterans
Planning on some quiet time sitting in a deer stand, hiking, paddling or enjoying Mother Nature in some form this upcoming week? You might want to look around and take a moment to silently thank those who fought and died to preserve this land and defend our freedoms. To all you veterans who are reading this column, many thanks for your service.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818

 

Over 1,100 acres of land acquired by MassWildlife in F/Y 2017

According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, MassWildlife had another good year for land acquisition. The following parcels were acquired in the Western District during the Fiscal Year 2017 (July 2016-June 2017).

Project Town Acres

Housatonic East Branch WCE Hinsdale 14.832
Peru WMA Peru 127
Ram Hill WMA Chesterfield 60.51
Long Mountain WMA Otis 23.84
Chalet WMA Lanesborough 24
Peru WMA Peru 3.366
Eugene Moran WMA Windsor 199.78
Misery Mountain WMA Williamstown 363.64
Tower Brook WMA Chesterfield 298.61
TOTAL Acres: 1115.58
All of these lands are open to the public for passive recreation including hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching, hiking, etc. Previously, comments were made in this column on the topography, habitat and access on all but the following three projects:
Eugene Moran Wildlife Management Area in Windsor. This property, which abuts the existing WMA, has been recently harvested and now has young forests with early successional growth. It provides good habitat for bear, deer, moose and other non-game critters. Access is from North Street in Windsor.
Misery Mountain in Williamstown has steep terrain and has a mature forest especially with oak trees. It abuts other lands on the western side which are also protected. MassWildlife’s effort is to protect the entire hillside. The property lives up to its name and is tough to hunt with the steep slopes, but there is good deer and bear habitat. There is no clear roadside access off of Rte 43, at this point but the property can be accessed from adjoining land.
Thee Tower Brook WMA is very huntable and has good access off of Cummington Fairgrounds road. property can be accessed from clear no clear roadside access at this point but the property can be accessed roadside access at this point can be
MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program
This program provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for game species and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. It also aims to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on State lands.
This year Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton provided MassWildlife with $500,000 for the third year of this popular financial assistance program. Details on how to apply for this grant are posted at mass.gov/dfw/habitat-grant. The application period is now open with a proposal deadline of October 30, 2017.
During the second year of the program (FY17), MassWildlife received 45 applications for grant funding with requests totaling over $1.3 million. Twelve proposals were selected by the team of reviewers for funding. This funding went to 11 different municipalities, private citizens, and both large and small NGOs for projects in 14 towns. These wildlife habitat management projects included invasive species control, old field habitat creation, young forest enhancement, waterfowl habitat creation, and coastal heathlands improvement. In total, approximately 500 acres were successfully managed due to this funding opportunity, including the Town of Lenox which combated the invasive hardy kiwi vine in Kennedy Park. The response from the towns and cities, conservation focused non-governmental organizations, sporting clubs and private citizens, for this wildlife habitat program indicate the strong need for these funding opportunities to preserve, conserve, improve and create wildlife habitats across the entire state. The increased funding for FY18 will result in even more habitat management projects to improve our natural areas for wildlife and outdoor recreation.
Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan
As residents of one of the most densely forested and heavily populated states in the nation, we have an intimate relationship with our forestlands here in Massachusetts. They provide clean water for one of the best public drinking water systems in the nation, the foundation of a world class park system, jobs for thousands of people through recreation, tourism and forestry, and a setting that makes Massachusetts second to none as a place we call home. Our forests also provide habitat to a wide array of wildlife – some incredibly abundant, others in steep decline. Our relationship with our forests, and the choices we make to manage them greatly affect the success and resiliency of that wildlife.
You are invited to join the Massachusetts Forest Trust and the Ruffed Grouse Society for a day of learning, discussion, and walking. It occurs on November 2 from 9am to 3pm at the Plainfield Public Safety Complex, 38 North Central Street, Plainfield, MA. You will hear from some of the region’s foremost experts on forest habitat and bird conservation. You will have a chance to hear and discuss what you can do to improve the outlook for species in decline.
Reservation is required at nletoile@massforestalliance.org, or at: (617) 455-9918.
Black bear hunting results
The September season of black bear hunting opened on September 5 and closed on September 23. The preliminary bear harvest, as reported by MassWildlife, showed that licensed bear hunters harvested 148 bears statewide. Some 59 of them were female, 86 were male and there was no information on the remaining 3. The harvest is down from the 190 taken during the September season in 2016. The possible reason for the drop, according to District Supervisor Andrew Madden, was that corn growth was late this year and the bears were pretty well distributed around the areas.
He noted that the harvest numbers are increasing each year in Worcester County and other eastern regions as the bears are moving east. MassWildlife will be dealing with them a lot in the future.
It’s too early for the final harvest figures in the Western District but he estimated that the total should be somewhere around 70% of the statewide total, probably around 100 bears. One bear weighing 475 was checked in in New Marlborough and there were several over 300 lbs., (dressed weights). He reported that there were a lot of year-old bears harvested in our district this year.
Youth Deer Hunt
There is a special date reserved for youth deer hunters which occurs before the regular hunting season. This year the youth deer hunt day was September 30. Statewide, approximately 105 to 110 deer were harvested by the youths, down from the 138 deer which were bagged last year. District Supervisor Madden attributes the lower harvest to the lousy weather which occurred on the youth hunt day. Never-the-less, some big bucks were checked in by the youths, such as a 190 lbs, 8 point buck from Hinsdale, a 175 lbs, 8 pointer from Stockbridge, a 150 lbs, 8 pointer from North Adams, a 150 lbs, six pointer from Hinsdale, and a 145 lbs, 9 pointer from Williamstown.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818

 

The Fall Hunting Season Has Begun

Waterfowl, upland game birds, cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares hunting seasons have already opened up.
Woodcock (timberdoodle) hunting season opened on October 4 and runs through October 28. It reopens on October 30 and runs through November 18. It will be interesting to see how this season goes this fall for many folks never heard or saw any woodcock mating rituals on their properties last spring. Some wildlife biologists feel that with the early spring weather they began their migrations early and then got caught in the sudden return of wintry weather, killing many of them.
In our region, the duck and Canada goose hunting seasons opened on October 10 and will run through November 25. They reopen on December 4 and run through December 13 for geese and December 25 for ducks.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service estimate that there are 10.5 million mallard ducks this year, 11% lower than 2016 but 34% above the long-term average. The decline amounts to about 1.3 million birds less than in 2016. The bulk of that appears to be related to drier conditions in the Canadian parklands region, where the surveys detected about 0.6 million fewer mallards” they said.

Pheasant stockings
MassWildlife reported that some 40,000 pheasants will be liberated statewide this year. In our zone, the pheasant season opened on October 14 and runs through November 25.
Pheasants are stocked on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and other locations that are open to the public for hunting. According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, they have changed the stocking schedules a little bit by varying the stocking times and days, but not the numbers of birds to be stocked. Unfortunately, some hunters had known the usual stocking dates and times and were frequently waiting for the stocking trucks to arrive. The new schedules will allow more people to have a chance at hunting them. Stocking locations and frequencies for the Berkshires are as follows:
Town(s) Stocked Management Areas Stocking Frequency / Week*
Cheshire / Windsor Stafford Hill WMA 2-3
Hinsdale Hinsdale Flats WMA 2-3
Lee Hop Brook WMA 2-3
Lenox George L. Darey Housatonic Valley WMA 2-3
Sheffield Three Mile Pond WMA 2
West Stockbridge Flat Brook WMA 2
Windsor Eugene D. Moran WMA 2-3
Windsor Peru WMA 1
Other stocked areas
Town(s) Other Stocked Areas Stocking Frequency / Week*
Great Barrington Beartown State Forest, between Monterey Rd and Mt Wilcox Rd. 2
Great Barrington Taft Farm off Rte. 183 and Division Road 2
Lee Meadow Street 2
Lenox Post Farm 2
Pittsfield Brattle Brook parkland east off Longview Terrace 2
Richmond Sleepy Hollow Road 2
Tyringham Slater Farm 1
Washington October Mtn. State Forest , dry reservoir site
2
Williamstown Taconic Trail State Park off Rte. 2 2
Due to factors including equipment failure, personnel, inclement weather, high water or other unforeseen circumstances they are unable to provide actual stocking dates and locations.
The ruffed grouse season also opened on October 14 and also runs through November 25.
Hunting Season Logs
Massachusetts hunters spend many hours in the woods observing wildlife of all varieties. These observations can provide wildlife biologists with a tremendous amount of information to better understand wildlife distribution and abundance across the Commonwealth. Consequently, MassWildlife is asking archery deer and game bird hunters to complete daily hunting logs during their hunting seasons this fall.
Hunters who complete hunting logs before December 20, 2017 will be entered in a drawing to win a blaze orange MassWildlife cap or a Massachusetts Wildlife 1-year magazine subscription. 125 winners will be randomly selected to receive hats and 25 winners will be randomly selected to receive magazine subscriptions. Prizes will be mailed to the address provided by the hunter on the completed hunting log.
Bowhunters are asked to keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of wildlife during the archery deer season (Oct. 16 – Nov. 25, 2017). Game bird hunters are asked to keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of game birds while hunting bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodcock, and grouse (Oct. 14 – Nov. 25, 2017). Click onto the MassWildlife website to download a copy of the recommended logs.
Huge trout were stocked this fall
That’s according to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden. “The trout stocked this fall are some of the best quality fish that we have ever stocked during the fall season. Some of those fish weigh 3+ lbs.” So far, they stocked the Deerfield River, Upper Highland Lake, Littleville Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Windsor Lake, Windsor Pond, Onota Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl, Ashfield Pond, North Pond, Norwich Pond, Lake Buel, Big Pond and Otis Reservoir. As of this writing, there are no plans to stock the East Branch of the Westfield River this fall due to low water. If they get surplus fish, they will try later, but for now it’s off the list for this year.t
Lake drawdown
According to a bulletin issued by Lee Hauge, President of the Friends of Pontoosuc Lake, this year’s target level for the annual drawdown will be only 3 feet. This would have been the year for a deep (5 feet) drawdown, but the purpose of the deep drawdown is to control Eurasian Milfoil, and they have not observed this plant species in the lake since the spring of 2015. “This is surprising, and very good news,” wrote Hauge. “Therefore; there is no need for the deep drawn this year or anytime unless we experience a resurgence of this invasive species.”
The annual drawdown will begin Monday, October 16. They will lower the lake level at a rate of about 1 inch per day until the target level is reached. Refill will start at ice-out, except that if ice-out has not occurred by April 1 partial refill will be started then to enable fish spawning.
TU Meeting
Dr. David Christensen, a fisheries biologist from Westfield State University, will be the guest speaker at the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited meeting which will be held on October 19 at The Cork and Hearth Restaurant on Rt. 20 in Lee, MA (next to Laurel Lake). He will be speaking about both river ecology and lake/pond ecology and how it relates to fishing. With summer temperatures in the rivers being quite high and water levels low, we often have to look for other species and other waters to fish so as not to stress our resident trout. Christensen will shed some light on pike, pickerel and bass fishing as well during these summer months.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a social hour at 5:30 pm followed by a short business meeting at 6:00pm and then the presentation. Following the presentation an optional “order off the menu” dinner is contemplated. For more information contact chapter president John Burns at ((802) 318-1600.(413) 243-0535