State record Bowfin caught…twice

Readers may recall that in my August 6 column I reported that the then existing state record for the Bowfin fish was broken and a new record was established. The fish which was caught by 16-year old Tauri Adamczyk of Taunton and it came out of the Taunton River. It weighed 7 lbs 14oz measured 26 ½ inches and had a girth of 14 inches.

Well, guess what, that record was beaten and a new record was established at 8 lbs 1 oz, and, get this, it was set by two people, a father and son. On August 6, David Souza of Berkley, MA caught the first one which measured 27 3/8 inches long with a girth of 13 inches. On August 8, his son, 21-year old Jake caught another one which measured 26 ¾ inches and had a girth of 13 ¾ inches. Both fish were caught from a boat out of the Taunton River. Now, what are the chances of that, a million to one?

David caught his on an early sunny day. His fish was the best of 7 Bowfin that he caught that day and most averaged 4 to 7 lbs. Two days later Jake caught his around dusk with low light around the same area. Both were using live and sometimes dead bait. Catching and then tying the record breaker was the “climax of the whole experience”, said Dave. “We are very competitive anglers. This is a blessing for a father, it felt like we hit the lottery.” Dave feels that the record will be beat, for he has lost some bowfin even larger. He thinks that there are some 10+lbs Bowfins swimming around there, possibly even 12 lbs.

The record breaking Bowfins were officially weighed in at the DFW Field Headquarters in Sandwich, MA.

If Souza’s name sounds familiar, it could be because Jake was the 2012 Angler of the Year and the 2013 and 2014 Youth Angler of the Year. In 2012, he caught the gold pin Largemouth Bass weighing 9.7 lbs. (His mom, Deirdre had a replica of it made for him). In 2012, he caught the gold pin Brown Trout weighing 8.8 lbs. In 2013, he caught the gold pin Sunfish weighing 1.2 lbs. In 2015, Dave caught the gold pin White Catfish which weighed 6.7 lbs.

But wait, there’s more. Dave and Deirdre’s other son, 18-year old Luke caught the 2014 gold pin Crappie weighing 2.3 lbs. Perhaps he will set the next record. Now wouldn’t that be something. (A gold pin is annually awarded by MassWildlife to the person who catches the largest fish in the Commonwealth of a particular species. It is a component of its Freshwater Sportsfish Awards Program)

Deirdre is very proud of her men and their accomplishments. I asked her if she fishes and she said that she loves going out with them ice fishing. She likes to skate and do the cooking while they are on the ice.

The Souzas. What a wonderful angling family.

Trapper Education Course
This course is being offered in an alternative format known as Independent Study. In independent study, students are guided by an instructor team and take the same course as students in a traditional course but will work independently to complete some of the work on their own. This essential homework is only part of the course. Students must also attend two class sessions as well.

A Trapper Hunter Education Course is being offered at the Lee Sportsman’s Association, 565 Fairview Street, Lee on September 19 and 30. The times are: 9/19 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and on; 9/30 from 8:00am to 2:30pm. If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call 508-389-7830 immediately; students are enrolled first-come, first-served, and enrollment cannot be processed via email. When calling, provide your Notification ID: 48700.

If the above course is not suitable, an additional Trapper Education course is being offered in Hadley, MA on September 20 and October 1, 2017. Course listings can be found online at:
http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/education-events/hed/trapper-education-courses.html

Early Canada Goose Hunting Season
On September 5, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens up and runs until September 22. New this year for the Early Goose season only, the hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Previously one could only hunt until sunset. The daily bag limit is 7 birds per day. All the regulations regarding migratory bird hunting applies, such as the requirement for a HIP number, waterfowl stamps, the use of non-toxic shot (no lead) etc., apply. The new 2017-2018 migratory game bird regulations are available from MassWildlife.

Black Bear Hunting
The First Season of Black Bear Hunting opens on September 5 and runs through September 23. A hunting or sporting license and bear permit is required for all seasons. Hunters may use rifles, handguns, muzzleloaders or archery during the First Season. The Second Season runs from November 6 through November 25. During that season, one can hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader or archery only, handguns may not be used. Muzzleloaders and rifles cannot be used on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season. A hunter orange hat is required if you hunt on a WMA. The Shotgun Season runs from November 27 to December 9 and only muzzleloaders, archery and shotgun may be used. Hunters must wear 500 square inches of hunter orange on their head, chest, and back.
No hunting of any bird or animal is allowed on Sundays in Massachusetts.

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

 

Bear/human contact reported in South County

At the August 22, 2017 Mass Fish & Wildlife Board Meeting at The Stationery Factory in Dalton, MA, Environmental Police Officer Captain Tony Abdal-Khabir and DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden reported on a bear/human contact. It occurred on August 21 in New Marlborough. A large bear was tearing apart a peach tree and the owner (who we shall call the reporting party) tried to chase it away. The bear closed the distance of about 38 feet and clawed his forearm.
He called 911 and soon local police and EMS were the on the scene. Shortly thereafter Lt. Carlow of the Environmental Police arrived, then Madden and after him additional environmental Police. According to Madden, the abrasions were superficial with light injuries. The reporting party received treatment at the scene. Because the wounds were so light and superficial, Madden felt that it wasn’t a true attack or an intent to harm him necessarily but rather an intent to bluff him.
Madden and EPO Carlow spent time walking around the property looking for the bear but didn’t find it or any sign of it. Based upon the description it was likely a male and it could have been miles away by then. The reporting party was satisfied with that and in Madden’s opinion was ok with that situation. They advised him of his Section 37 rights (right to protect himself and his property from wildlife) and moved on from there. The reporting party has had encounters with bears before. He is a bear hunter and had taken one during last year’s bear hunting season. He was well versed with bear identification and said it was a large bear. Madden had no doubt that where he lives, who he is and his experience, it was a large bear.
According to EPO Captain Abdal-Khabir, the takeaway is that they had a successful deployment using bear protocol which they have been working on. They had rapid response by both agencies and were able to operate within the parameters set forth. The end result is that they did not have to euthanize the bear.
The reporting party, even though he had a minor contact, was so lucky, said Adam-Khabir. Even a small yearling can do considerable damage at that proximity. “We must take them seriously and give them the respect they deserve”, said Madden.
At the same Board Meeting, Madden reported that they have initiated a bear collaring program here in the Western District. Their intended goal was to trap 2 or possibly 3 sows and put radio collars on them. In actuality, they captured 18 bears which included 6 sows. Of the 6 captured, they lost contact with one due to a collar mechanical failure and another one that was killed by a resident after it killed some chickens. They are down to 4 sows now but still beyond their expectations.
He commented on the number of large bears that were caught. They trapped 2 bears that were well over 400lbs and another over 300lbs and that was in the spring when they were coming off of hibernation and hadn’t had a chance to fatten up yet. They also had a couple on film that exceeded those 400lbs bears, so there are 500lbs bears out there.
He commented that the towns where they have the most bear complaints are in towns like Stockbridge, Monterey and Otis where there is a huge influx of people in the summertime, with summer camps, second homeowners, etc. and bears are active at that time searching for food.
Madden gave an update on some bears that were considerably under nourished and underweight which were found in the spring. (Some weighed less than 20 lbs and one only weighed 9 lbs.) It was a phenomenon that was also reported in VT and NH. He said that 2 were left in place as there was no public safety concern. They had to move two of them, one was hanging over Rte 9 in Cummington, MA that was creating a public situation and the other one was inside a garage. They removed it and brought it to Tufts University Wildlife Clinic for 2 weeks and then relocated it. They had no answer as to what caused their underweight conditions, perhaps a bad drought the year before.
Incidentally, the First Season of black bear hunting opens on September 5 and runs to September 23. A permit is required. If you take a bear with an ear tag or radio collar, contact DFW’s Field Headquarters (508)389-6300 immediately. You will be asked for information that will help biologists determine the source and status of these animals and you will be asked to return the equipment to MassWildlife
Duck Hunting Opening Day Change
If any Berkshire hunters are planning their usual opening day duck hunt on Columbus Day, please take note. This year the Fish & Wildlife Board changed the opening day to one day later, October 10. This change was the result of sportsmen answering questionnaires which were sent out by MassWildlife. Not to worry, they say, hunters will still have the same number of duck hunting days. They added another day at the end of the season ….. December 25! I thought you would like to know so that you have time to try to get October 10 off from work or school.
Community Celebration Day
The Berkshire Natural Resources Council (The Landkeepers) wants you to help them celebrate its 50th anniversary by attending its Community Celebration Day on September 9 at Holiday Farm, 100 Holiday Cottage Rd., Dalton, MA from 10am to 4pm.
There will be hay rides, guided hikes, archery, fishing, birds of prey and music. While registration is not required, they ask that you please consider letting them know if you’ll attend by reserving a free ticket by contacting Mackenzie Greer at the BNRC website.

Local turkey hunter is an inspiration to us all


On the last Friday of this year’s Spring Turkey Hunting Season, Zach Porio, of Adams, went hunting for toms. Normally, he hunts with friends Richard Frew or Nick Chenail but they couldn’t go with him that day. So, he went with his usual partner, his trusty black lab Roxanne. He likes to take her for she is quiet and in case he falls out of his wheelchair or stand, he can send her for help. (In case you didn’t notice from the photograph, Zach is a quadriplegic. That was the result of a motorcycle accident he had in 2012.)
It had rained the night before but this day was turning out to be a nice one. The only thing he had to worry about was the tires of his wheelchair getting stuck in the mud.
Dave Willette, author of Coyote Wars and columnist for the Northwest Sporting Journal wrote about that day in his August 2017, Mass Wanderings column, entitled, “Determination and Desire Personified”, and much of the following is derived from it.
“Zach couldn’t get into his normal spots that morning so he tried a new place where he had permission to hunt. It’s a real challenge for Zach to find suitable places to hunt as he has to take into consideration what his limitations are, especially if there is a slope of any kind and if it’s wet. He has to know that there are birds around there because he can’t do any scouting. He usually hunts out of his wheelchair, but if he has to use his truck, he has to be sure not to trample the farmers’ hay.
On this day, Zach drove his custom truck to the edge of the farmer’s field and backed out 30 yards to drop the turkey decoys out of the truck window. He then drove back to the edge and watched for birds by looking through his rear- view mirrors.
An hour after daylight ten or so turkeys popped out of the hedgerow 400 yards away so Zach started calling with his box call. By 10:00am, the birds had gotten within 200 yards and soon two jakes broke off and came within 50 yards. When Zach started to turn a little, they saw him and ran off. He then got into a better position.
He can’t sweat like he used to due to his injuries and he got very hot sitting in the truck. Around 11:00am, he was getting ready to quit, but before doing so, he decided to try his new turkey call. He got a response! Zach slowly turned to see two toms about 20 yards from the decoys but the bigger one detected him and decided to bail. He shot the second one with his .20 gauge shotgun and “it dropped like a stone”.
Because Zach only has partial use of his upper extremities, he had to pull the trigger with both hands while supporting the gun on his knees. He then had to drive his truck closer, grab a rope, get into his wheelchair and push it 20 yards over a meadow to retrieve his turkey. (He doesn’t have a motorized wheelchair). He had to bend over, tie the turkey by its feet, push himself back upright, put the rope into his mouth and drag it to the truck while pushing his wheelchair. (That bird weighed over 12 lbs!). “I was exhausted by the time I got back into the truck”, he said.
Zach, who is married (to Samantha) and has two children, is quite a guy. He hunts other birds and animals, too, including bears.
He felt funny about relaying this story. He prefers to keep stuff like that to himself. It wasn’t until I stressed upon him that he is such an inspiration to all of us, especially to others who are battling physical disabilities, that he relented.
Many thanks to Dave Willette for providing much of the above information. Incidentally, you may want to check out the Northwoods Sporting Journal. It is an excellent outdoor sporting magazine which focusses mainly on northern New England.
Lobsterfest
The Friends of the Berkshire Hatchery Fund Raiser Lobsterfest will be held next Sunday afternoon, August 20 from 2 to 5pm, at the Hatchery at 240 Hatchery Road, Hartsville, MA. This event supports the programs and scholarships that the Foundation provides. The full lobster dinner, which will be catered by Other Brother Daryl’s, costs $65 pp. Tickets can be obtained by calling (413)528-9761.
Basic Hunter Education Courses
All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course. One will be taught at the Lee Sportsmen’s Club, 565 Fairview Street, Lee, on August 21 and September 9. The times are 6:00 to 9:30pm on August 21 and 8:00 am to 2:30 pm on August 19. Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course. To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

Young Adult Pheasant Hunt
Hunter Education graduates aged 12–17 can participate in the Young Adult Pheasant Hunt. The program involves shooting instruction and practice, a pre-hunt workshop, and a mentored hunt prior to the regular pheasant season. All young adults between the ages 15 and 17 will need a hunting license and FID card to participate in this program.
This hunt takes place on Saturdays in September and October; specific dates vary and are determined by participating sportsman’s clubs. For more information and to view participating clubs, visit the MassWildlife website or contact Astrid Huseby by email at astrid.huseby@state.ma.us.
F&W Board
The August meeting of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board will be held on Tuesday, August 22, at 1:00 pm, at the Stationery Factory, 63 Flansburg Avenue, Dalton, MA.

 

No changes to be made in statewide antlerless deer permit allocations this year

In his recent report to the Fish & Wildlife Board, MassWildlife Deer and Moose Project Leader David Stainbrook discussed the emerging trends in the Western and Central regions (Wildlife Management Zones 1-9) and in the Eastern Region (WMZs 10-14). He explained that it is helpful to break the state into two areas when looking at deer management issues and trends.

In WMZ 1-9, the deer numbers have been kept relatively stable over the past 30 years, but in the eastern zones, deer numbers have gone from very low (rare to see a deer in some areas), to quite abundant. In areas where there has been adequate hunting access, deer numbers have likely been kept stable, but in areas with limited to no hunting access, deer numbers have been steadily growing.

He reported that they are on average within the Management Range in WMZs 1-9, but there is always variability within each zone, with some areas having lower deer numbers and some with higher deer numbers. The variability typically comes down to hunting access. He also reported that one major part of MassWildlife’s goal is to maintain a healthy, balanced deer population.

The data that staff collects in WMZ 1-9, (which come only from huntable areas, to investigate physical health of deer) indicate that deer are in good physical condition. The strong yearling male antler beam diameters they are recording indicate that the deer are healthy enough to devote more resources into antler growth, and also that their mothers were healthy enough to give them a good head start. Upon analyzing the age structure of the harvest data, it revealed in WMZs 1 to 9 that those zones are exhibiting a balanced age structure.

In conclusion, and based on the deer density to management range of 12-18 deer per square mile, Stainbrook recommended no change to the antlerless deer permit (ADP) allocation in WMZs 1-9. He also recommended that MassWildlife conduct pellet count surveys and deer browse surveys, stating that these will add to their understanding of current deer densities, so they know when they are reaching the upper end of their management range.

The proposed Antlerless Deer Permit Applications for 2017 are as follows:
WMZ Allocation WMZ Allocation

1 400 7 2,250
2 175 8 2,500
3 1,100 9 4,100
4N 375 10 12,000
4S 275 11 11,000
5 1,250 12 800
6 300 13 2,700

Hunters who applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by the July 16th deadline must return to the MassFishHunt system to try to win a permit. The instant award period begins August 1 at 8:00 A.M. and continues through December 31. This is not a first-come first-served system. The odds of winning an Antlerless Deer Permit during the instant award period are the same whether a customer tries to win in August, September, or any time before December 31. Hunters have one chance to try for an instant award Antlerless Deer Permit.

There are three ways in which a hunter may participate and try to win a permit: 1) Log into the MassFishHunt system (follow instructions), 2) Visit a MassWildlife office , or 3) Visit a license agent location . Staff at these locations will access the MassFishHunt system on the customer’s behalf.

Stainbrook also recommended and the Board approved the following:
• Set the Youth Deer Hunt Day on September 30, 2017 and continue to allow youths to take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone.
• Allow youth 12-17 to obtain their free youth deer hunt permit online
• Allow online harvest reporting during second week of shotgun season, starting the second Monday of the shotgun season. This is more convenient for hunters, and staff has not seen any drops in reporting with online reporting, nor is it a concern for biological data collection.

Stainbrook also recommended that MassWildlife extend the Archery deer season, starting the season two weeks earlier in WMZs 10-14. This would give hunters eight weeks instead of six weeks. If approved it would start after the Youth Deer Hunt Day, on the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving, which is October 2 in 2017. The Board could not approve the recommendation at that time because it has to have a public hearing first.

River clean-up surprise
Jane Winn, Executive Director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), thanks everyone who helped to pull canoe-loads of trash out of the Housatonic River during the clean-up which took place on Saturday, June 15. She reported that the extraordinary find of the day was an ATM! Volunteer Tom Sakshaug said that they thought it was an oven or refrigerator but when he went to see how heavy it was he discovered it was an empty ATM. BEAT Stewardship Manager Ella DelMolino passed the information onto Jane who notified the police and they arrived and removed it.

Thanks also went to the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) who co-hosted the event, to BlueQ who provided lunch and “cool” BlueQ stuff, and the City of Pittsfield who hauled the trash away and provided some funding for this year’s cleanups.

Firearm Course
On Saturday, August 12, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be having a Multi-License Firearm Course. This course qualifies applicants to apply for licenses in MA, CT, UT, FL, ME and NH. Robert J. McDermott will be conducting this course. For information and registration contact him at 413-232-7700 or robmcdermott@verizon.net.

Archery Shoot
Karen Kruszyna,, spokesperson for the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, informs us that there will be a Tri-State 3-D Archery Shoot on Sunday, August 6. It starts at 8 a.m. and participants are advised to get there ahead of time to register. Price for adults (30 targets) is $10, Youths 12 to 15 is $5 and Cubs 0-11 are free.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818