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

 

Kids fishing with little fish sometimes catch lunkers

 

Over the Fourth of July weekend, 12-year old Nina from Queens, NY was visiting her grandparents Dave and Maggie Bimbane on Ashmere Lake in Hinsdale. She was netting some small “baby” sunfish along the shoreline with her 10-year old cousin Gage. She decided to rig the sunfish onto a fishhook and toss it out near their dock. She saw a nice largemouth bass follow the bait and attack it. According to grandpa Dave, there was a lot of excitement (screaming and yelling) when they tried to net the bass. It was too big for their net but she was able to land it anyway.

Nina went through the decision of either mounting it as a trophy or cooking it. She finally decided that it had lived all these years and it should be set free, which she did. Grandpa Dave is really proud of young Nina. “It was a great choice for a 12-year old person.” he said. That fish may provide great pleasure to another angler in the future and maybe that angler will also release it.

The bass measured 18 inches long and weighed 2.5 lbs. Looks heavier than that, don’t you think? I’ve got a feeling that she will do more visiting and a lot more fishing up at the lake in the future.

It never ceases to amaze me. Most bass fishermen fish with rubber worms, lures, plugs, spinner baits, etc. They probably have hundreds of dollars invested in their equipment. I wonder if they remember their younger days when they would simply hook a small bait to the red and white bobber and cast it out. Kids sure caught a lot of fish in those days using that method. I don’t remember practicing “Catch & Release” back then, because we fished for food.

In addition to the small fish, we would fish with what we called crabs (crayfish), perch bugs (dragonfly nymphs) and any other wiggly pinching critter that we caught along the shorelines and riverbanks.

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 Ashfield Rod & Gun Club, 161 North Street, Plainfield, MA, on August 3 and August 19. The times are 6:00 to 9:30pm on August 3 and 8:00 am to 3:30 pm on August 19.

The second course will be taught at the Pittsfield High School, 300 East Street, Pittsfield. The dates are September 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21 from 6:00 to 9:00pm.

Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course. To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

Land Acquisitions
Recently, MassWildlife completed three Western District land projects. All three of them built on existing land holdings and enhanced access for sportsmen while protecting a diversity of
habitat.

The first one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land located within the Long Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Otis. Based upon topo maps, it appears to be between Angerman Swamp and Hayden Swamp and to the east of the boundary with Beartown State Forest near the Tyringham town border. There does not appear to be any ready access to it, but the closest road appears to be Stebbens Road in Otis. There is no informational write-up of the property available yet.

The second one was the acquisition of 24 acres of land abutting the Chalet WMA in Lanesborough. It is between the Chalet WMA and the Boulders Wildlife Conservation Easement area with access from Gulf Road. There is limited parking space (2 cars) nearby on Gulf Road. The Chalet WMA has over 6,400 acres within its boundaries.

The third one was the acquisition of 66 acres abutting the Ram Hill WMA in Chesterfield, MA. Access to the area is off of Route 143, across from Dead Swamp. Sorry, there is no informational write-up of the property available yet. This increases the acreage of Ram Hill WMA to 244 acres.

Incidentally, much of the information about the WMA’s was obtained from MassWildlife’s Wildlands Web Viewer where one can find out information about all of the WMA’s and other preserved lands. There are three base maps of the properties: USGS older maps, the newer topographic maps and satellite maps. These maps are currently being updated to give valuable information such as total acreage, access and parking locations, boat launches, etc. Check them out on http://maps.env.state.ma.us/dfg/masswildlifelands.

Eagle Update
Readers may recall my June 18, 2017 column wherein I noted that it appeared that eagle nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox failed to produce young this year. Things were looking dismal. Well, there is some good news. This year they had successful eaglets develop in June in Buckland, Otis, and Monterey. MassWildlife banded only 2 chicks in the Western District and both were in the Monterey nest. Statewide, MassWildlife banded 29 chicks, recorded 57 active nests and had 50 eaglets fledged.

MassWildlife also reported that when an early spring storm destroyed a Bald Eagle nest containing eggs, chances were extremely small that the pair could re-nest. However, one pair of eagles beat the odds this spring by building a new nest and hatching two eggs. This successful second nesting is the first ever recorded in Massachusetts. MassWildife recently visited the nest and banded two chicks.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com

Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby

On Saturday, June 3,  the 25th Annual Harry A. Bateman Memorial Fishing Derby on Onota Lake took place.  Eagle Reporter Derek Gentile did an excellent job of reporting the event with a picture and a listing of the winners.  (June 10, 2017 Berkshire Eagle, “Fishing derby lures hundreds”.  There is no need to repeat that information here, but I would like to mention or re-emphasis a few interesting tidbits.

 

According to Derby Organizer Stephen Bateman, “Despite the weather and the fact that the lake was treated for weeds, we had a record turn-out of 286 fisherman and about another 30+ people who attended.”  It was a very positive and upbeat event, with lots of fish weighed in, lots of prizes doled out and lots of good food.

 

Brendan Monahan, Development Officer for Event Fundraising at Dana Farber Cancer Institution in Boston, attended the event and presented awards to Steve and many of the derby staff.  In his speech, Monahan noted that over the 25 years of the derbies, $42,000 had been raised for the Jimmy Fund.  Well, as a result of this successful derby,  another $6,000 was added.

 

I must admit; however, that at times my thoughts were somewhere else.  I couldn’t help but think about the herbicides, with their harmful ingredients, that were applied just two days prior to this popular derby to raise funds for cancer research.  Really?

 

Another derby that took place on June 3 was the annual Youth Outreach Fishing Derby on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire.  This year, Deacon Robert Sams brought 13 kids from the First Baptist Church in Pittsfield and Alex Doherty brought 10 kids from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.  Most of the kids, ages 6 to 14 years old had never fished before.  The look of glee on the face of the featured young lad is an indication of the wonderful, memorable day that was had.  Every kid caught some nice sized brook trout.

 

It was all made possible by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen.  It provided the mentors, equipment, bait, lots of brook trout and tasty food.  It also provided fish cleaning service and afterwards, sent the kids home with new fishing outfits and bags of fish for tasty meals.

 

This year’s volunteers comprised of members from the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club, Pittsfield Sportsmen’s Club, Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Adams Outdoor for Youth, East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club, Greylock Bass Club, Ashfield Rod & Gun Club and the Berkshire Beagle Club.  A couple of guys from the Berkshire Lodge of Masons did the cooking.  I’ll bet these volunteers had just as much fun as the kids.

 

So why so late in reporting these derbies?  I was away flyfishing the AuSable River near Lake Placid, NY for a few days with Paul Knauth of Hinsdale and Allen Gray of Pittsfield.  It rained  most of the time and the river was running high.  Never-the-less, it was an enjoyable trip with all of us catching trout.  I have been fishing that river annually for over 30 years but never saw a brown trout caught the size that Paul landed this year.  It was a 22-inch fish which was lightly hooked in the lip.  It zoomed away in a flash when Paul released it.

 

Basic Hunter Education Course

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 Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112 – Worthington, MA., on the following dates:  July 24, 25, 27 and 28 from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.  Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.  To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

 

License to Carry Courses

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be holding LTC and “Utah” Firearm Permit courses on  Saturday, June 25 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. The LTC course costs $70.00, the Utah course costs $120, or $150 for both.  Pre-registration required.   Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com.rice/25 price is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both is $70 for LTC. $125 for UTAH & $150 for both

 

Wild Turkey Surveys

MassWildlife conducts the Annual Turkey Brood Survey from June 1 through August 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys. The survey helps its biologists determine productivity and compare long-term reproductive success while providing an estimate of fall harvest potential. Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics. Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data.  It’s not too late to participate.

 

MassWildlife advises us to be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush.

 

New this year, observations can now be reported online.  Simply fill in all the information and click submit and your turkey observations will be logged by MassWildlife. You can still download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer. Completed forms should to be mailed after August 31st to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.   If you’ve submitted your observations online, do not mail in duplicate observations.

 

Bald Eagles

Staying with big birds, MassWildlife Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden recently reported to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen that it looks like another difficult year for Western District birds.  It appears that nests in Pittsfield, Great Barrington, Richmond, Russell and Lenox all failed to produce young. A combination of adult bird mortality, severe weather and other unknown variables are likely to blame. Western District Staff will be checking nests to see if they can find clues as to what happened.