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


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:

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.

2016 Black Bear harvest was a record


MassWildlife Furbearer and Black Bear Project Leader Dave Wattles recently reported that a new record of 283 bears were harvested over the three 2016 seasons. The previous record harvest of 240 bears occurred in 2014.

During the first (September) season, 190 bears were taken, 46 were taken in the second (November) season, and 47 were harvested during the shotgun deer hunting season. According to Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, 205 bears were taken in the Western District with 94 in Berkshire County.  Some of the higher Western District  harvests occurred in the following towns: Blandford accounted for 17 of them, Granville 13 and Cummington 10.

Madden also reported that 93 wild turkeys were harvested statewide during the fall turkey hunting season.  Some 15 of them were harvested in the Western District.  Earlier this year, MassWildlife’s Wild Turkey Project Leader David Scarpitti reported that the statewide spring preliminary harvest figures indicated that 3,054 wild turkeys were taken   So it looks like about 3,147 wild turkeys were harvested this year.


No 2016 deer harvest figures have been released yet.


Remembering Peter Mirick

It was reported in a recent MassWildlife newsletter that Peter Mirick, retired editor of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine, avid sportsman and herpetologist, passed away in December from cancer. He began his career with MassWildlife in 1977 as a staff writer for the magazine and served as an assistant biologist before becoming the magazine editor in 1981.


During his time with the Division, he earned a Master’s Degree in Biology from Worcester State College. Pete was an avid herpetologist, conducting research on the endangered Black Rat Snake and assisting with projects related to other reptiles and amphibians. During his career, he was active with professional organizations including The Wildlife Society, New England Outdoor Writers Association, and the Association of Conservation Information. He received a number of awards for his writing and editing and was the lead editor of the “Trapping and Furbearer Management in North American Wildlife Conservation” publication, which is used by state conservation agencies across the country.


He also authored the recently published “Massachusetts Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles.  (An excellent book currently on sale at the DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, MA).


Pete was a strong believer in educating people, particularly youth, about wildlife conservation and was a passionate advocate for hunters, anglers, and trappers. He will be greatly missed by many, including the folks at MassWildlife, natural resource professionals, naturalists, and sportsmen and women.


Water Flowing at McLaughlin Fish Hatchery

In the same MassWildlife newsletter it was announced that last month officials turned on the water pipeline at the McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown. Construction began in June 2016 on the nearly mile-long water pipeline and hydropower turbine that will supply six million gallons of water daily to the hatchery, produce renewable energy, and reduce the hatchery’s electric demand.

McLaughlin Hatchery, built in 1969, is located in Belchertown near the Swift River and is the largest of MassWildlife’s five trout hatcheries. This hatchery is responsible for half of the state’s entire annual trout production, approximately 225,000 pounds, with a “retail value” exceeding $2 million dollars. Fish raised at McLaughlin Hatchery are stocked in nearly 500 rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout Massachusetts.

The water pipeline project taps water from the Chicopee Valley Aqueduct and provides the McLaughlin Trout Hatchery with a reliable, gravity-fed source of cold water, eliminating the environmental and biological risks associated with the water withdrawal from the Swift River. The result will be an energy cost savings of $60,000 per year. The project also includes installation of a hydropower turbine on the pipeline. The construction of the building for the hydropower generator is well underway and the hydropower generator has been delivered to the site. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has received a grant to fully cover the cost of the hydropower unit which will generate almost $53,000 in annual revenue for the MWRA. As MassWildlife put it, “This project is a win – win scenario for the MWRA, the hatchery, and the Commonwealth”.

 Fly Fishing Show

The annual Fly Fishing Show will take place from January 20 through 222 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.  I always pick up one or two autographed books and fly tying stuff while there


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 Gary Borger, Bob Clouser,  Ed Engle, Bob Popovics and many other flyfishing stars and they will be happy to autograph your books. There will be more than $60,000 in door prizes.


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  flyfishingshow.com/Marlborough__MA.html for more details.


Every year I write this,  but it is true – for flyfishers/flytyers this is a must-attend event.


Truckload of goodies raffle

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club Truckload of Goods raffle winners were:   Truckload – Cara Aherne of Pittsfield, 2nd – Derek Wells of Adams, 3rd – Joe Fuller of Lee 4th – Dave Harmon of Pittsfield, and 5th – C. Barrie of Pittsfield.  Now that’s a good way to start off the new year

2016 shotgun deer hunting season off to a good start



As of noon last Wednesday, 82 deer were checked in at the DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, MA. Some 52 were checked in on opening day.  That figure is significantly higher than last year’s figure at the same time.  Some of those deer were bruisers with beautiful antlers and good body weights..  For example, Peter Derby shot a 6 point buck in Hinsdale that weighed in at 202 lbs.  Thomas Wiencek shot a 9 point buck in Cheshire that weighed 198 lbs.  These were field dressed weights.  To estimate their actual live weights, multiply the field dressed weight by 1.26.  So the estimated live weight of Derby’s deer was approximately 255 lbs and Wiencik’s deer weighed approximately 249 lbs.  Nice deer, ey?


The season was only two and a half days old and preliminary harvest numbers were not available from the outlying check stations.  We do know that the Mill River check station weighed three huge deer; a 10 pointer weighing 181 lbs, an 8 pointer weighed in at 186 lbs and another 10 pointer which weighed 157 lbs.   There was an 8 pointer shot in Richmond that weighed 176 lbs, an 8 pointer that weighed 179 lbs and a 10 pointer weighing 184 lbs shot in Lee.  There was an 11 pointer that weighed in at 164 lbs in Monterey and a 12 pointer taken off of Mt Greylock that weighed 174 lbs.  These large deer were in addition to the “normal” sized deer.
DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden said that his office and the outlying check stations all exceeded last year’s harvest numbers for opening day.  He attributed the high harvest numbers to the almost ideal conditions:  ample snow for tracking and pleasant temperatures.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was at the office, the conditions were less than ideal with pretty good downpours.  Even so, the hunters were not deterred.  Around noon time on Tuesday there was a steady stream of hunters checking in their deer.   That kept Madden and Wildlife Technician Derek McDermott out in the rain most of the day checking them in.


Effective last year, a third black bear hunting season was started which runs through the 2 week shotgun deer hunting season.  As of noon on Wednesday, 4 bear were checked in at the Western District Check Stations.  According to Madden, this indicates that all of the bears have not yet denned up for the winter in spite of the large snowfall which occurred the previous week.  He did say; however, that hunters can still tag bears online during this season, so he doesn’t yet know  what the tally is.


With the hard rainfall and fog on Tuesday and Wednesday, much of the snow melted and tracking might have been more difficult.  But there was plenty of mud and soft ground so it was still possible to track the deer.


The shotgun deer hunting season runs until next Saturday, December 10.  If you haven’t been able to get out yet, don’t worry.  There appears to be a lot more deer out there this year, possibly due to the mild winter we had last year.   This year’s shotgun harvest numbers should be relatively high.  After that season, the primitive firearms (black powder) deer hunting season opens on Monday, December 12 and runs through Saturday, December 31.




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, 2017.  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.


Licenses on sale

The 2017 hunting, sporting, freshwater fishing, and trapping licenses are available for purchase through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a DFW office.   Good news!  There are no increases in the license fees this year.    In fact, there has not been a license fee increase since 1996.


At that time, Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey of Lenox, and the then DFW Director Wayne MacCallum calculated that with the $10 fee increase they imposed, they wouldn’t have to request another increase until the year 2006.  It has now been twenty years.


How is that possible, you ask?  Darey attributes it to several factors:  good grant writing, division downsizing, modernization and priority.  Darey said that during the downsizing, no one lost their jobs.  One examples of modernization is that more and more pheasants are being bought, rather than raising then.  This allows for excellent birds at  lower prices because they are saving money on manpower costs.  The Division is also utilizing more economical ways of raising the fish, too.


2016 Guides are available

You can now download your 2017 Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing and Trapping Laws (formerly called the abstracts) or pick one up at a licensed vender or at a DFW office.  This year’s cover has a nice picture of a coyote.


Listed in the 2017 Guide are the following changes:  1) Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits are now set in the Spring;  2) Federal Migratory Game Bird Stamps may be purchased online through MassFishHunt (mass.gov/massfishhunt) when purchasing your hunting license and state waterfowl stamp and 3)There are new Learn-to-Hunt and Explore archery and bowhunting programs that provide unique opportunities for new hunters and archers to gain important knowledge and skills.


In the 2017 Guide, DFW Director Jack Buckley highlighted some of the Division’s accomplishments during 2016.  I plan to list them in next week’s column.

Black bear/early goose hunting seasons open this Tuesday.

This Tuesday morning the first of three black bear hunting seasons begins.  Hunters are reminded that last year there were some changes to the bear hunting seasons. The first season runs from Tuesday September 6 through Saturday, September 24.   The second season runs from Monday, November 7 through Saturday, November 26.  The third season takes place during shotgun deer hunting season, November 28 through December 10.  The regulations are complicated when it comes to determining which hunting implement is legal in which season, so I have once again included a grid which was furnished by MassWildlife and may be of some help.

**Except on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.

Hunters are still advised to review page 33 of the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide to find out how and when to report the harvest and other important information.  Remember, a permit is required to hunt black bears.

Also on Tuesday, September 6, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens statewide and runs through Friday, September 23.   The bag limit is 7 and possession limit is 21.  The hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset (except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset).

They may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge.  Shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler.

Each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp.  Stamps are required for hunting ducks and geese but not for hunting woodcock.  Non-toxic shot is required for all waterfowl hunting; no lead shot can be in your possession.

Migratory game bird hunters must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year.  If you have not completed the HIP survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey.

This year the Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youths aged 12 to15 takes place on Saturdays September 24 and October 8.  Check the 2016-2017 Migratory Game Bird Regulations for all of the regulations dealing with the youth hunt.

Steak & Lobster dinner dance

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be having a steak and lobster dinner dance on Saturday, September 17 at its clubhouse off of New Lenox Road, Lenox.  Dinner will be at 6:00 p.m., followed by dancing to music provided by DJ Russ Davi.  B.Y.O.B.  The ticket cost is $25.00 pp and can be ordered by e-mailing the club at info@lenoxsportsmensclub.com

Their turkey Shoots are scheduled to start Sunday September 18 and will run every week until Sunday Nov 18.

Kids Fishing Derby

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding a free kid’s fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.

Homer Ouellette

Recently, Homer Ouellette of Pittsfield passed beyond the river bend at age 90.  He was an ardent fly fisherman, perch fisherman and deer hunter.  I should mention from the start that the comments about Homer also apply to his older brother Paul Ouellette of Lanesborough, who still fishes with us.   They were inseparable and when you saw one in an outdoor event, you saw the other.

Homer was a charter member of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited who eventually became its president and a director.  He was an early recipient of Taconic TU’s highest award, the Crooked Staff Award. He was a volunteer in the Atlantic Salmon restoration program, stocking salmon fry in the Westfield River.  He helped establish the Friends of the Williams River group by conducting river surveys.   He was an excellent fly tyer and fisherman and helped teach it at BCC in the 1970’s/1980’s.  In fact, that is where I first met him.  He was such a cool and knowledgeable fly tyer/fisherman that I immediately joined TU because of him.   I wanted to be just like him.

I treasure the memories of him flyfishing the Westfield River at Indian Hollow and those times when we flyfishermen sat around the evening campfire after a day of fishing.  We, listened to the soft music which emanated from his harmonica and enjoyed his stories of flyfishing in the past.  It was from him that I first heard the term “fishing beyond the river bend”, when a fly fisherman passed away.

He was also a member of the tongue-in-cheek organization known as Perch Unlimited or PU!  While staying at their cottage in Vermont (the Owl’s Nest), they would often ice fish for perch on Lake Champlain and caught many of them.  Homer did his share of deer hunting out of that camp, also.  (You may recall a couple of articles that I wrote about that camp last fall.)

He was an excellent bowhunter and for many years taught the bowhunting course for the Mass DFW.  He, along with his brother Paul, received the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award.  To quote the citation, “they have devoted countless hours to stream improvement, salmon fry stocking and bowhunting safety instruction courses.  They have been instrumental in instructing thousands of archers in dozens of courses they have hosted as Bowhunting Education Instructors.  Every sportsman can think of one or two people who helped spark their passion for the outdoors.  Homer and Paul Ouellette have touched many sportsmen’s lives.”

A reminder that hunting seasons are coming up and the club is always looking for game for our dinners. If you want to donate your harvest, please contact the club at info@lenoxsportsmensclub.

Infested ash trees are very dangerous

In his January report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Western District Manager Andrew Madden reported on the status of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Massachusetts.   It has now been discovered in 4 regions of Massachusetts (Berkshire County, Andover, Boston and Worcester).  In the Berkshires, EAB was first discovered in Dalton but has now also been found in Windsor, Hancock and Lee.      

Since its discovery in 2002 in Michigan the EAB has been spreading rapidly throughout the Midwest and Northeast. EAB kills the ash tree within a couple of years of infestation. Madden feels that it is likely that we will approach complete mortality of untreated ash trees over the next 10-20 years. Ash trees make up 4-8% of the hardwood forests in Massachusetts, but compose a larger percentage in Berkshire County.  Pesticide treatments can be effective in treating individual trees and biological controls have been introduced with some evidence of early success.

Hunters, hikers and other users of wooded areas should be aware that infested trees deteriorate rapidly, completely dry out and may come down unpredictably with very little force. Small windstorms shatter them, so don’t trust them.  In the past, one could feel pretty solid standing on a 1 inch ash limb but if infested don’t even go near a 5 inch limb.  They dry out so much that they are completely unpredictable.

Madden advises bow hunters to pay special attention to the ash trees and pick a different kind of tree for their tree stands.   Turkey hunters who often sit at the foot of trees should avoid them also.


Many towns have ash trees along their streets and will have to address this issue lest they be falling on telephone and power lines, or even worse, on people.*****

Madden also reported that the DFW has made a new land acquisition. Located in the Town of Egremont, this new parcel contains about 23 acres and has 960 feet of road frontage along Rowe Road and about 2,500 feet along the Green River, an excellent cold water stream. 

The property abuts other lands along the Green River and Rowe Road owned by the DFW (North Egremont Wildlife Management Area), and it also abuts land along the Green River owned by the Egremont Land Trust which is under a Conservation Easement (C/E) held by the DFW (North Egremont WCE).  Funding for a large portion of the acquisition came from the Housatonic Natural Resources Damages program. *****

MassWildlife Furbearer and Black Bear Project Leader Laura Conlee recently reported that statewide, some 228 bears were harvested during the three 2015 open seasons combined. The record harvest of 240 bears occurred in 2014. During the traditional September and November seasons a total of 175 bears were taken, while an additional 53 bears were taken during the new two-week season which ran concurrently with the shotgun deer season.

The bears are gradually spreading eastward in the Commonwealth. Last year, six bears were taken in Wildlife Management Zone 8 and two in WMZ 9.  No bears were taken yet in the newly-opened WMZs to the east of Zone 9, but it’s just a matter of time.  No information is available yet as to the harvest numbers here in the Western District (Zones 1 through 4).

In my December 13, 2015 column, I had mentioned a 450 lbs live weight bear which was harvested by Dick Superneau of Clarksburg.  It weighed 375 lbs field dressed.  Well, it turns out that a much larger bear was taken last December in Athol by Jim Mundell of Athol. It took Mundell four hours to get it out of the woods with the use of a backhoe. When he checked his bear in at the Sunderland Hatchery it weighed 498 lbs field dressed and perhaps is the state “unofficial” record. Massachusetts does not keep official state bear records but they do maintain a database of the largest bears on record.   According to the UMASS Cooperative Extension System, the existing state record (dressed weight) for a male black bear in Massachusetts was 467 lbs.

Regardless of whether it is the new state record, the 498 pounds was the weight after the bear had been dressed, and it was estimated by officials to have weighed 650 pounds while alive. To put that in perspective, according to the MassWildlife website, Massachusetts male black bears average 230 lbs, while females average 140 lbs.  To see a picture of that bear, google “Mass state record black bear.” *****

The annual Fly Fishing Show will take place from January 22 through 24 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.


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 Ed Engle, Jay “Fishy” Fullum, Bob Popovics, Ben Furminsky, 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  flyfishingshow.com/Marlborough__MA.html for more details.


For flyfishers/flytyers this is a must-attend event.

Preliminary results of new bear hunting season are in


This year is the first year that black bear could be hunted during the two week shotgun deer hunting season which ran from November 30 to December 12.  This is in addition to the two other bear hunting seasons; the first season ran from September 8 to September 26 and the second from November 2 through November 21.  The additional hunting season is the latest tool that the Department of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) has employed to try to manage the rapidly growing bear population statewide.

In his December 10 report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden reported that preliminary harvest numbers of black bear taken during the two week shotgun deer hunting season statewide should be about 45.   They may still have some check stations that haven’t reported in yet, but he doubts that the number is likely to change by more than a few bears.  He predicts that the final number will probably be between 45 and 50.

We probably shouldn’t expect such high numbers every year.  This year’s warm weather was undoubtedly a factor in the harvest totals.  The bears were probably still actively foraging for food and had not yet settled into their dens for their long winter sleeps.

The final numbers for the September and November bear hunting seasons have not yet been released by DFW for either the state or western district.  The total statewide bear harvest for 2014 was 240 with 78 of them coming from Berkshire County. *****

In his report, Madden also stated that a preliminary look at Western District check stations indicated a good first week of shotgun deer season with numbers up slightly from last year and good quality deer being checked.  This is in spite of the lack of snow which usually affords better tracking conditions.

The following are some of the larger deer taken in the Western District.  Included are  the hunters’ last names, dressed out deer weights and towns where the bucks were taken:  Wright – 196 lbs, Cheshire; Salvatore – 187 lbs, West Stockbridge; Majchrowski – 182 lbs, Dalton; Turner – 190 lbs, Hancock; Voudren – 190 lbs, Russell; Thomas – 194 lbs, Blandford and Gaudette – 202 lbs, Sandisfield.  Gaudette’s deer was a 10 pointer.

The live weights of all of the above deer were undoubtedly over 200 lbs.  Although not a true scientific measurement, if you apply the formula of field dressed weight x 1.25 you should come up with an approximate live weight of a deer.  If one applies that formula to Gaudette’s deer, then the live weight was probably about 250 lbs.

While we are on the subject of deer weights, let’s carry it a step further and try to figure out the realistic venison yield.  How many times have we heard of people accuse the deer processor of not giving back all the meat.  Well, consider the following.

One adult bucks weighing over 160 lbs, one must deduct 9% of its weight which represents the hide; 11.7% is bone and some percentage representing the blood. Then one must consider the part of the meat that has been damaged by the bullet or improper field dressing.  A neck shot has very little ideal meat ruined, whereas a deer shot in the loin or hind quarter area has more of the ideal meat ruined.

According to University of Wisconsin research, a mature buck weighing 165 pounds field-dressed would ideally yield 83.08 pounds of boneless meat and realistically yield about 58 pounds of good meat.  Information came from http://www.butcher– packer.com and http://askthemeatman.com websites.. *****

Looking for a new project for your man cave this winter?  Have you thought about taking up fly tying but didn’t know where to start?  Well the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited is once again hosting a fly-tying event this afternoon.  The event is free and open to all TU members and their friends.  It will be an informal gathering with members bringing in their own vises and tying materials. They expect to have a few extra sets available for those just curious about tying. This is a great opportunity to learn about fly tying and to exchange patterns and ideas.  They will gather in the lounge at the Wahconah Country Club on 20 Orchard Road, Dalton from 2:00 to 6:00 PM.  Refreshments can be purchased at the Club.   If interested contact Henry Sweren at hsweren8@aol.com. *****


The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club will have youth archery sign ups Saturday, January 2, 2016 in the archery range from 8:00 to 10:00 AM.   You can also download applications from their website www.stockbridgesportsmansclub.org. The cost is $40 per child and you do not have to be a member of the club.  They will shoot the following 10 Saturday mornings.  For more information, call Mike Buffoni at 413-323-7703. *****

On Sunday, January 17, Avid Sport on 1201 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield will be holding a Firearms Safety Course which allows you to apply for your FID card or Pistol Permit.   The class is usually limited to 9 and you are required to prepay to lock in a seat.  The cost is $100.  For more information, call 413-997-3600.

If you live in Northern Berkshires, there is another firearms safety course on the same day in North Adams.  Dan Peck, NRA and Massachusetts State Police Certified Instructor will be teaching that course.  For location, hours and more information, call 413-663-4896. *****

The DFW Western District office has a new biologist.  His name is Nate Buckhout from East Hampton, MA.   An Air Force veteran, Nate received his BA from the United States Air Force Academy and his Masters degree in Wildlife Conservation from UMASS Amherst.  He filled Tony Gola’s position who retired earlier this year.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

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

Some hunting seasons open this Tuesday.



Can you believe that some hunting seasons are here already?  Bear season couldn’t come soon enough for the corn growers and honey producers.  This Tuesday morning the first of three black bear hunting seasons begins.  Hunters are reminded that there have been some changes to the bear hunting seasons and regulations since the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide (abstracts) came out. The first season runs from Tuesday September 8 through Saturday, September 26.   The second season runs from Monday, November 2 through Saturday, November 21.


New this year is a third bear hunting season which takes place during shotgun deer hunting season, November 30 through December 12.  The regulations are complicated when it comes to determining which hunting implement is legal in which season, so I have included a grid which was furnished by MassWildlife and may be of some help.





**Except on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.


Also new this year is the ability to hunt bears statewide in all WMA’s.  MassWildlife felt that these changes were necessary to help manage the rapidly increasing black bear population  statewide.  Hunters are still advised to review page 33 of the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Guide to find out how and when to report the harvest and other important information.  Remember, a permit is required to hunt black bears.


Also on Tuesday, September 8, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens statewide and runs through Friday, September 25.   The bag limit is 7 and possession limit is 21.  The hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset (except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset).


Migratory game birds may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge.  Shotguns capable of holding more than 3 shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler which limits the gun’s total capacity to 3 shells and which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

Each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. The federal stamp must be signed across the face in ink.  Stamps are required for hunting ducks,  geese, or brant, but not required for hunting rails, snipe, woodcock, or American coot. Non-toxic shot is required for all waterfowl and coot hunting; no lead shot can be in your possession.

All migratory game bird hunters are reminded they must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year.  If you have not completed the HIP survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey. Your license must have either the notation “HIP Survey Completed” or “Waterfowl Stamp” when printed.

Massachusetts has a Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youths aged 12 to15 on Saturdays September 26 and October 10 for ducks, coots, mergansers, and geese. All youths must be accompanied by a licensed adult hunter with a valid Massachusetts waterfowl stamp.  Only one firearm is permitted.  Adults may not hunt and may carry firearms only when unloaded and cased. No license or stamp is needed for youths ages 12-14.  A license and Massachusetts waterfowl stamp is needed for youths aged 15.  No federal stamp is required but all other hunting regulations/bag limits apply. *****


The Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) is having a Basic Pistol Course on Mondays, September 14 and September 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM.  The course costs $100.  To sign up, contact Larry Karlquist at (413) 442-7807.

Also, the LSA will be holding an International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) match next Saturday.   Participants are urged to register.

IDPA is a combat format competitive match that forces you to use different styles and methods to complete each stage.  Your score is your time plus any penalties.  According to spokesman Andrew Swanton, new shooters are welcome but should be well experienced in the use and operation of their firearms.  This is not a match for a novice shooter but rather a club level match, but one should not feel intimidated that it is a high pressure match.  Safety is the biggest concern and classroom orientation for new shooters begins at 10 AM.


Then on Sunday, September 13, there will be an IDPA Classifier.  That is similar to an IDPA match but uses standardized stages to place a shooters in division based on their score.  Watch www.leesportsmen.com for the schedule and announcements. *****


The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having its Annual Steak and Lobster Dinner on Saturday September 12.  It begins at 6:00 PM.  Music will be provided by DJ Russ Davis.  BYOB.  The cost is $25 pp. Contact Tom Ferguson for tickets at 413-443-3224.


Incidentally, its turkey shoots begin on Sunday September 13.  Tickets go on sale at 12:30 PM and the first shoot is at 1:00 PM.  The cost is $3 per shot. There will be food from the grill. Contact Brady Kerr at 413-212-0894 for more information. *****

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding a free kid’s fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 AM.

Incidentally, according to the Berkshire Record, the Foundation had a record attendance of 175 at its Lobster Fest at the hatchery last week.  I was there and certainly ate my share of the delicious food (lobsters, raw clams and oysters, chowder, steamed clams and more, prepared and served by The Other Brother Darryl’s Seafood Market in Otis. Approximately $4,000 was raised for Foundation activities which include providing brook trout for local sportsmen’s club fishing derbies, scholarships and more.


Time running out to apply for antlerless deer permit

To harvest an antlerless deer in Massachusetts, hunters must possess a valid hunting or sporting license as well as an Antlerless Deer Permit (permit) for the Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ) in which they intend to hunt. The permit allows the harvest of one antlerless deer in the specified zone during any deer hunting season. Hunters must have a permit in their possession while hunting.


If you have not applied for a permit yet, you must do so by July 16.  There is no fee to apply but a $5 fee is charged if you are awarded a permit during the Instant Award period.   You may apply  by visiting the MassFishHunt web site, a MassWildlife office, or a license vendor.  Then, during the Instant Award Period, from August 1 through December 31, you can try to win a permit.


MassWildlife reminds citizens that the female segment of the deer population is used for population management since with each female deer harvested, not only is the individual removed from the population but so too is that deer’s future reproductive potential.  Therefore, in regions of the state where there are high numbers of deer per square mile, a large number of permits are made available.  Conversely, in regions where there are relatively fewer deer (sometimes resulting from poor habitat quality), fewer permits are allocated for hunters.


Each year MassWildlife determines the number of permits to issue for each of its fifteen WMZ’s.  Any surplus permits are made available in October. Although no official announcement has been made yet, MassWildlife anticipates that there will be no changes in the permit allocations this year – they will be the same as last year.  The Fish & Wildlife Board endorsed this at its May meeting. *****


Incidentally, the Worthington Rod and Gun Club at 458 Dingle Road, Rte. 112 will be having a Basic Hunter Education Course on July 20, 21, 23 and 24 from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.  To enroll, call (508)389.7830.


This course is mandatory and designed for first-time hunters.  In order to purchase a hunting license, a hunter must have successfully completed a Basic Hunter Education course from any US state, Canada, or Mexico.   Funding for the program is derived from the sale of hunting and sporting licenses and from federal excise taxes on firearms and archery equipment.  All courses are conducted free of charge. *****


Staying with the subject of hunting, there have been some changes made in the regulations governing black bear hunting this year.   Black bear hunting is now permitted in all zones throughout the Commonwealth.  (Previously, bear hunting was only allowed  in Zones 1 through Zone 9).


Also, in an effort to get the bear population to a manageable level, bear hunting is now permitted during shotgun deer hunting season.  Hunters already afield during the shotgun deer season can now take a bear anywhere in Massachusetts  provided they have a $5 Bear Permit and use:  1.) shotgun not larger than ten gauge, including shotguns with a rifled bore, slugs only; 2.) muzzle-loading firearm fired from the shoulder, .44 to .775 caliber; or 3.) bow and arrow.


During the shotgun deer season, all deer hunting regulations apply.  Hunters must wear 500 square inches of blaze orange on their chest, back, and head.  Only hunting implements that may be used for hunting deer may be used for hunting bear; no rifles or handguns are allowed.

So, to recap the black bear hunting season dates this year, they are as follows:  First Season: September 8 through September 26, Second Season: November 2 through November 21 and Shotgun Season: November 30 through December 12.  Hunting is prohibited on Sundays*****


Congratulations to MassWildlife for recently receiving a $720,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant award to support habitat restoration and conservation projects that benefit wetland and upland habitats and over 160 bird species at several locations in the Great Marsh. The Great Marsh consists of more than 20,000 acres of marsh, barrier beach, tidal river, estuary, mudflat, and upland islands from Gloucester to Salisbury.  The Great Marsh is the largest contiguous saltmarsh in New England. This was the tenth NAWCA grant focused on wildlife conservation efforts in the Great Marsh in the past twenty years.

This grant will protect more than 1,140 acres, restore 202 acres, and enhance 80 acres of habitat, which include saltmarsh, mudflats, coastal islands, maritime forests, and shrub. The area’s outstanding habitats support healthy populations of wildlife which are in need of special conservation action, including American Black Duck, Woodcock, New England Cottontail, Bobolinks, and Saltmarsh Sparrow—the only endemic breeding bird (doesn’t nest anywhere else) in the northeastern United States.

“This is the largest and most complex wildlife conservation grant award the Division has received,” said Jack Buckley, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. *****

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the free fly fishing demonstration which was sponsored by the Hoosic River Water Association and put on by fly fishing guide Chris Jackson on the Hoosic River at Cole Field in Williamstown.   He is an excellent fly caster and fisherman and I picked up some good pointers from him and learned a new location in which to fish the river.    Jackson can be reached at www.flyfishthedeerfield.com.   Allow yourself some time for the site is packed with useful information and excellent fly tying videos. *****


The Lee Sportsmen’s Association is running a Basic Pistol Course on the Monday evenings of July 13 and July 20 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM.  The course cost is $100.00.  To sign up, contact Larry Karlquist at (413) 442-7807. *****


The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding another free kid’s trout fishing derby at their lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, July 11 from 9 to 10:30 AM.