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 firstname.lastname@example.org/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.
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.
Saturday, April 22, was the day when the youths and their mentors took to the woods to bag a gobbler. For the kids it was the culmination of classroom instructions, safety classes, shooting practice, etc. Traditionally, the special youth turkey hunting day occurs on the Saturday before the opening day of the spring turkey hunting season. Each year I try to cover the kids at a different sportsmen’s club that has the youth turkey hunting program. Last year I was at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, this year the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club and next year I hope to be at the Lee Sportsmen’s Club.
This year the SSC had a fairly large group of kids (20) to mentor. As you can see by the photo, they did very well with 5 kids bagging birds and just about every kid and mentors had action, either by having toms respond to their calls or having opportunities to see some. That’s really important for it takes a great deal of fortitude for the youngsters to get up early and be out in the woods before daybreak. If they don’t have some kind of positive action, they may get immediately discouraged and not ever go turkey hunting again.
Mike Buffoni, who heads up the Stockbridge program and who also is a mentor had a memorable morning himself. He and his accompanying youth spotted a female moose during the hunt. Others hunters spotted a bear of two. Mike has to be super proud of his two sons Max and Marco for they both bagged gobblers.
The day started off damp and raw with a few sprinkles here and there but as the day progressed, it warmed up. When the kids and mentors returned to the club around noon, (turkey hunting must cease at noon) they were treated to a hot roast beef dinner expertly prepared by Chef Peter Delgrande.
After the meal, the customary procedure is to teach the kids how to dress the birds, breast them out for consumption, and save the tail feathers, beards and spurs for display. Getting that first turkey was a big event for these kids and I’m sure they wanted to save such items for fond memories and bragging rights.
While one of the mentors was eating his meal, he picked at least 20 ticks off of his shirt – both wood ticks and deer ticks. He had hung his hunting jacket on the back of his chair and they were jumping off of that onto his shirt. He said that he had also pulled a lot of ticks off of him when he finished hunting and was leaving the woods.
From what I hear and see, this is going to be one heck of a year for ticks, so please make sure you use a tick repellent spray on your clothes, such as permethrin, and be sure to carefully inspect yourself when you get home.
Matt Ranzoni, who headed up the Lee Sportsmen’s Association youth hunt, had 6 kids participate this year and 3 of them were successful. Donavan Coccomo got a tom weighing 21 lbs, Hunter Briggs got a 20 lb bird and Matt Driscoll got a 15 lb jake. Travis Bush passed up a jake because he saw a tom that he was after. The other two hunters, Dorian Page and Owen Bush had close calls.
No word was received as to how the kids at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club did.
The Lee and Cheshire youth turkey hunt programs are similar to that of the Stockbridge Club, but I doubt very much that they had the kind of delicious meal that Delgrande prepared.
As of midweek, MassWildlife only had harvest numbers on what had been reported online. Many check stations still issue physical seals so they aren’t able to obtain harvest numbers until they get information back from all the check stations statewide after the season closes.
Incidentally, readers may recall my March 5 column, ”NE Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame inductees announced”, wherein I mention that MassWildlife’s James Cardoza was one of the inductees for supervising the recovery of Massachusetts wild turkey. Following that article, 90-year old Joe Robinson called me to tell the rest of the story. Robinson, a former DFW Western District biologist, retired 35 years ago, but he remembered the turkey recovery effort quite well and related the following:
The real credit for reintroducing the turkeys back into Massachusetts belongs to the then DFW Western District Supervisor Winn Saville, and his staff including Frank Putnam, Ed Hover, Fred Bohlman and Joe. “We were the pioneers”, he said. “Members of the staff traveled to New York in the early 1970’s, got the birds and released them in Beartown State Forest. We kept an eye on them to see how they were doing. We built feeders for the turkeys and put bags of corn into them. The deer got a lot of that corn.” Joe said that the first turkeys migrated to the Great Barrington area along with their poults. After some years of reintroducing them and their own self populating, the hunting season was opened 1980.
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children’s fishing derby next Saturday, May 13 from 9 to 10:30am at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: West and Middle Branches of the Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield and Worthington; Littleville Reservoir in Chester and Huntington, Trout Brook in Peru, York Lake in New Marlborough, Otis Reservoir, Laurel Lake, Richmond Pond and Windsor Pond in Windsor.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818
Front left to right; Curt Wilton III, Max Buffoni, Madison Gilmore, Nick Powers, Zack Lupioni Back row left to right; Kadin Shafiroff, Brady Whalen, Matt Fletcher, Bailey Gilmore, Marco Buffoni, Nick Puntin, Darrin Cloran, Nate Smith. Not in picture; Kade Groeber, Kevin Triono, John Field III, Myles Houle, Juliana Hektor, Briel Winters, Brett Smith.