The preliminary 2017 statewide deer harvest was a new record.

MassWildlife reported that last year’s 13,220 deer harvest set a new state record. Archery and Primitive Firearms seasons also saw record harvests. The preliminary figures by season are as follows:
Youth Deer Hunt Day: 109, Paraplegic Deer Hunt: 4, Archery Season: 5,191, Shotgun Season: 5,162 and Primitive Firearms Season: 2,754. Note – This is the first year that the archery harvest is higher than the shotgun harvest. In the following chart, zones 1 through 4 represent the Western District.

2017 harvest by Wildlife Management Zone (WMZ map)
Zone Adult Male Female Button Buck Total
1          249            59               8            316
2          493            48               6            547
3          439          121             17            577
4N       425            95             19            539
4S       302            37               5             344
5         479          179             28             686
6         118            39               6             163
7          422         245              42            709
8          647         282              37            966
9         730          353              66         1,149
10    1,227       1,075            249          2,551
11    1,662       1,043            267          2,972
12       159            74              16             249
13       319          365            110             794
14       244          309            105             658
State 7,915      4,324            981        13,220

MassWildlife notes that while total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn’t provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone as well as annual changes in hunter effort, weather, etc. The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. Such an analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be posted on the MassWildlife website shortly after the annual deer review, so we are encouraged to check back in June. Click onto the MassWildlife web site to learn more about deer management in Massachusetts.
Hunter Education Courses

MassWildlife sponsors other hunter education courses besides those that use shotguns, such as bowhunting and trapping courses. Unfortunately, neither of them is taught here in the Western District and for that reason I have not been listing them in this column. However; some local sportsmen may be interested in taking these courses and are willing to travel. Therefore:

Bowhunting – There will be a one-day bowhunter education course on March 18 from 8 AM to 5 PM at the Swift River Sportsmen’s Club, 350 Cold Spring Road Belchertown. To view this listing and others, and obtain driving directions, visit the web at: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/bowhunter-education-course-offerings. As a reminder, all courses are free of charge and all necessary course materials will be provided to the student. Unaccompanied minors will need to bring a signed permission form to class in order to participate. This form can be downloaded and printed at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/10/10/2017%20Minor%20Permission%20fom.pdf

A bowhunter education certificate does not qualify you to purchase a Massachusetts Hunting license. If you are preparing to buy your first ever hunting license, you need to complete Basic Hunter Education (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/basic-hunter-education-course-offerings) even if you plan on hunting only with archery equipment.

If you are planning on hunting outside of the commonwealth, a Massachusetts Bowhunter Education Certificate is accepted in other jurisdictions that do mandate the successful completion a bowhunter course to hunt with archery equipment. If you have any questions, contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-7820, Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Trapping – A Trapper Education Course with Independent Study will be held at the Auburn Sportsmen’s Club, 50 Elm Street, Auburn, MA on March 21 and 31at the following times: 3/21 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM and on 3/31 from 8 AM to 5 PM. You must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete this course. This course is being offered in the Independent Study format which means that in addition to the 2 required in-class sessions, students will need to complete homework in between the 2 class sessions.

If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call (508) 389-7830 immediately between 8 AM. and 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Students are enrolled first-come, first-served, and courses fill quickly.

 

Department of Ecological Restoration news
Many Massachusetts rivers lack enough water at certain times of year to support aquatic ecosystems, fishing, recreation and adequate drinking supplies. DER, which is a division reportable to the Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife, works to restore natural streamflow (the amount of water that flows through streams and rivers) in Massachusetts. They do this by working with partners to collect streamflow data; to inform and support policy and actions that restore and maintain healthy streamflows and by managing restoration projects aimed at restoring natural flow. In 2018, the DER:

• Leveraged over $6.5 million in newly awarded external funds for community-based restoration projects. The grant funds will pay for engineering, design, and construction work taking place in communities across the Commonwealth.
• Provided technical support to municipal staff, watershed groups, landowners, and other organizations in more than 193 communities across 26 major watersheds.
• Supervised volunteer workers in 90 communities, devoting more than $70,000 worth of labor towards protecting and restoring our rivers and wetlands.
• Worked with more than 30 partners, DER removed 7 dams, opening up more than 40 river miles, restoring 30 acres of wetlands, and reconnecting more than 900 acres of spawning habitat.
• Signed Cooperative Agreements with Sponsors of 11 new Priority Projects and began project scoping and planning. The projects include dam removals, culvert replacements, urban river revitalization efforts, floodplain enhancement, and streamflow restoration.
• Published an on-line dam removal decision support tool for use by federal, state, and local partners. The tool evaluates the expected ecological benefits of removing any known dam in the Commonwealth.
• Launched its new Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Program by awarding $905,000 in grants to 13 towns for projects that replace undersized culverts.
• Piloted a community-based social marketing program in the Ipswich River Watershed to encourage voluntary reductions in residential water use

A local project is occurring in the Town of Washington. Aging infrastructure coupled with intense rain events over the last 10 years caused several culverts in town, including the culvert on Frost Road over Savery Brook to begin to fail. In recent storms, this culvert became completely blocked, causing Savery Brook to overtop the road. Savery Brook is part of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers system and supports native brook trout. Replacing this failing culvert with a larger, safer structure will restore access to this important headwater stream while alleviating a flood hazard.

Incidentally, on January 3, Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ronald Amidon appointed Beth Lambert to lead the DER. Beth brings twenty years of experience and strong partner relationships to her new leadership role. For the past four years Beth has managed DER’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration Program, overseeing the Division’s river, wetland, and salt marsh restoration projects across the Commonwealth. Previously, Beth managed the River Restoration Program for DER and the former Riverways Program. Prior to that, she worked for the New Hampshire Coastal Program as the Habitat Restoration Coordinator; for Oregon Sea Grant/ Oregon State University Extension as Watershed Management Extension faculty; and as a stream ecologist for a non-profit organization in Homer, Alaska.
Beth is no stranger to the Berkshires having work with the Housatonic Valley Association, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) and the Taconic and Hoosic Chapters of Trout Unlimited on stream continuity and other watershed projects.

Opportunities to learn about our furry and hairy critters

On Friday, February 16, at 6:30 PM, Sue Morse, the founder of Keeping Track® , will give a presentation entitled “Bear with US! Living with Bears in the North Country”. The presentation will take place at the Boland Theater at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Be prepared for lots of fascinating information on black bear biology and ecology, with emphasis on the field identification of tracks and sign. This show offers the most comprehensive discussion of bear scent-marking behaviors, illustrated with dozens of her original images. As for living in harmony with black bears, it’s entirely up to us, as this program will solidly demonstrate. “Bear safety” is achieved largely because of what we do out there, whether it be in the wild or around our home and farmyard. It is more about what we can do to minimize the hazards we pose to bears.
On Saturday, February 17 from 9 AM to 12 Noon and from 1 to 4 PM Sue Morse will conduct a tracking workshop at the Myrin Preserve in Great Barrington, MA. She has over forty years of experience interpreting wildlife habitat uses. She is highly regarded as an expert in natural history and one of the top wildlife trackers in North America. Since 1977, she has been monitoring wildlife, with an emphasis on documenting the presence and habitat requirements of bobcat, black bear, Canada lynx and cougar.
Learn how to apply scientific knowledge about the habits and habitats of various wildlife and to predict where to look for sign. In the field you will learn “search imaging” as well as Keeping Track’s scientific documentation methods for photographing tracks and sign.
Meet and Carpool from Monument Mountain High School – 600 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington MA 01230. The cost is $25/person ($20 if member in BEAT’s tracking club)
RSVP Required, Space Limited. Contact Elia Del Molino at BEAT to sign up!
elia@thebeatnews.org or 413-429-6416.

Then on Saturday evening, February 17, from 6 to 8 PM, Sue will give a presentation entitled The Mysterious Mustelids. (She is going to be a busy gal that weekend!) Learn why fishers aren’t cats and ermine aren’t evil. Mustelids are the largest and most diverse order of carnivores on Planet Earth. The presentation, will take place at Monument Mountain High School Auditorium, 600 Stockbridge Rd., Great Barrington, MA.
Sue Morse’s evening presentations are free and open to the public. They are sponsored by: Trustees of Reservation, BEAT, MassAudubon, Sheffield Land Trust, Nature Conservancy, NE Forestry Foundation, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Great Barrington Land Conservancy and Green Berkshires.
On Tuesday, February 20, from 5:15 to 7 PM, the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) Pittsfield Green Drinks will present a program entitled Getting to Know Our Neighbors: Berkshire Wildlife On Foot and By Camera. It will take place at the J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, 41 North Street, Pittsfield and will feature Elia Del Molino, Stewardship Manager for BEAT. Elia will give a presentation on getting to know wildlife of the Berkshire hills through tracking and trail cameras. Elia manages BEAT’s tracking club, a group of locals who bushwhack through forests and fields looking for evidence of wildlife, mostly mammals. Elia will discuss some of their exploits and show a compilation of wildlife videos from BEAT’s remote cameras.

Pittsfield Green Drinks is an informal gathering on the third Tuesday of the month. The gatherings are open to everyone with any environmental interest. Incidentally, the drinks aren’t green but the conversations are. Pittsfield Green Drinks is sponsored by BEAT. For more information about Pittsfield Green Drinks, contact Elizabeth Orenstein elizabeth@thebeatnews.org or (413) 717-1255.

 

Outdoor artistic/writing opportunities available for youngsters

Junior Duck Stamp Contest: “There is still time to enter the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) contest,” advises MassWildlife’s Wildlife Education Specialist Pam Landry. “Any student, from kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether they attend public or private school or are home-schooled, can submit original artwork in this fun and educational competition. Even if students do not enter the art competition, the related information can serve as a valuable resource in art or science classrooms.” The entry deadline is February 15, 2018.
The JDS program links the study of wetlands and waterfowl conservation with the creation of original artwork. Students in grades K-12 learn about the habitat requirements of various kinds of ducks and geese and then express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of these species artistically, by creating a drawing or painting which can be submitted to the JDS art contest. The art is judged in four age group categories in a statewide competition; the entry judged Best of Show moves on to represent Massachusetts in the national JDS competition. Art teachers, science teachers, and parents who home-school can visit its website for an information packet and entry information.
For more information, contact Pam Landry at (508) 389-6310, or pam.landry@state.ma.us.

New England Outdoor Writers Association outdoor writing contest: NEOWA recently announced its 6th annual Youth Outdoor Writing Contest. The rules for the contest are as follows:

1. The contest is open to students in New England. Submissions from students in grades 6-8 will be entered in the Junior Division; grades 9-12 will be entered in the Senior Division.

2. The topic must be outdoor-oriented (fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, camping, nature, ecology, etc.). Any prose or poetic form is acceptable.

3. First, second, third and two honorable mentions will be chosen in both the junior and senior divisions. Winners will receive certificates and cash prizes. First place $150, second $100, third $50, honorable mention $25.

4. The written work should not exceed 500 words. Entrants must submit by mail, three legible 8½ x 11 copies of his or her work with a title of the entry and the author’s name. The entrant must also include a cover sheet including name, age, address, telephone, e-mail and grade in school. One copy of the entry must also be sent by email.

5. The deadline for mailing contest entries is Feb. 15, 2018. Mail entries to Youth Writing Contest, c/o Randy Julius, 487 Central St., East Bridgewater, MA 02333.
Email: randyjulius19@gmail.com Phone 508-378-2290, 508-642-2997.

NEOWA will announce the contest winners during spring 2018.
Don’t feed the deer
A message from MassWildlife: Although well-intentioned, people who feed deer in the winter may not understand the negative unintended consequences of this seemingly benign activity.
A host of microorganisms (bacteria, protozoa and fungi) and enzymes in the deer’s digestive system enables the breakdown of plant material into a form that allows for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. The composition of this digestive microflora actually changes during the year to help deer digest the different types of seasonally available foods. As warm weather foods, such as green, soft vegetation, die off in the fall, deer gradually shift to browse, woody plant material such as twigs and buds. Accordingly, the deer’s digestive microflora slowly adjusts to this dietary change over a period of weeks.
During the winter months, if abrupt changes in diet occur with introduced high carbohydrate foods like corn, apples, and deer pellets, it can disrupt the deer’s stomach chemistry, triggering bloat, diarrhea, damage to the rumen (the first of four stomach chambers), and even death. High levels of lactic acid produced as a by-product of the carbo hydrate-digesting bacteria overwhelm other microflora, reduce the rumen’s pH (rumen acidosis), and damage the rumen lining. This lactic acid can also be absorbed into the bloodstream and can rise to potentially fatal levels.
Even if a deer survives the initial issues, damage to the rumen lining can be permanent, potentially leading to future digestive problems. Feeding deer can also cause deer to congregate in larger numbers, increasing disease transmission risks, and causing deer to adjust travel patterns that increase vehicle collision risk.
A healthier, safer way to support deer through particularly rough winters is to improve existing natural habitat. Creating areas of young hardwood and shrub-dominated understory forests (e.g., recently cut), especially near coniferous covers of hemlocks, pines and firs, is very beneficial. In locales where deer numbers are much higher than what the natural habitat can support (evidenced by over-browsing), opening large blocks of land to regulated hunting can reduce deer densities, benefiting the remaining deer and the local ecosystem.
Private landowners, land trusts, and cities and towns can provide winter food and cover for deer and other wildlife by including selective forest cutting in their habitat management plans.
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. The Basic Hunter Education course is designed for first-time hunters and is standardized across North America. All government-issued Basic Hunter Education certificates, from any North American jurisdiction, are accepted as proof of successfully completing the course in order to purchase a hunting or sporting license.

Anyone who has held a hunting license prior to 2007 in this or any other state, or is a graduate of a Basic Hunter Education course in this or any other state, does not need any additional training and may immediately create a customer account and purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license ([www.mass.gov/massfishhunt). Proof of a previous license or certificate is not required.

A Basic Hunter Education Course will be taught at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club, 310 Curran Road, Cheshire, MA, on February 12, 16, 19, 23, 26 and March 2, 2018, from 6 PM to 9 PM for all 6 evenings. You must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.
If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call (508) 389-7830.
Firearms safety courses
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is having a License-to-Carry / UTAH firearms course on Saturday, January 28 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. It is a Massachusetts State Police Compliant course. The cost is $70 for LTC, $125 for UTAH and $150 for both. Preregistration required. Contact Tom Nadolny at (413)822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com or Dennis Leydet at (413)329-7081 or djleydet@gmail.com.
Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club News
In its most recent newsletter, the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club announced that it has recently purchased approximately one hundred acres of land adjacent to its existing property, along the northwestern boundary. This purchase brings the total acreage to just over two hundred acres, and helps protect the Club from potential encroachments. It thanked those involved in the extended negotiation and purchase, led by its immediate past president, Wayne Slosek. Special thanks also went to its attorney and Club member Jack E. Houghton, Jr., “whose diligence and persistence” saw it through some difficult issues. Thanks were also given to the Skorput family, who were the previous owners, for their patience and generosity throughout the process, most especially Peter, who acted as point man for the family.
The Club was able to pay the cost from its treasury, but as a result, is requesting the membership to step up when paying this year’s dues by including an additional donation to help replenish it. I’m sure it wouldn’t refuse donations from non-members as well.
Incidentally, after forty years of putting out the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club newsletter, Gary Johnston handed off the responsibility to Max Scherff, a new club member who has graciously volunteered to share his literary expertise with all members. “It has been my great pleasure to contact you over the years through this newsletter” wrote Johnston, “I have always felt that communicating with the membership about the ongoing activities at the club are vital to our continued success. I have great confidence in Max.”
Ice fishing derbies
The 40th Annual Raymond “Skip” Whalen Ice Fishing Derby will be held at Stockbridge Bowl boat ramp on Sunday, January 28 from 7 AM to 1 PM. Entry fees are as follows: Kids under 15 years old – $5 (and they all win something) , Club members and Town residents – $10, Nonmembers aged 15 and up – $15. Tickets may be purchased at Wheeler & Taylor and Berkshire Insurance Group in Stockbridge, at the Club on Saturday mornings 9 AM to noon, or on Derby Day at the Bowl only until 9 AM.

Also on January 28, the Onota Fishing Club is having an ice fishing derby on Onota Lake from 6 AM to 2 PM. There will be cash prizes for adults and kids and donuts, muffins, coffee, hot cocoa. There will be a pasta dinner afterwards. The adult entry fee is $15 and for kids under age of licenses, $5. Tickets for the dinner after the derby cost $12. Register at the Controy Pavilion.

Please note:

Any club or organization that wishes its ice fishing derbies (or any other events) mentioned in this column must get the information to me two weeks before the scheduled event. It has to be in this column the Sunday before the scheduled event and my deadline is the Wednesday before that. Thank you.

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

 

 

Ninety-one year old deer hunter scores again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voluntary Public Access

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

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

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

Four generations of hunting tradition for the Curtins.


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

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

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

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

Black Bears

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shotgun deer hunting season opens tomorrow


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

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

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

No hunting on Sunday.

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

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

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

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

Lucky Lena

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paraplegic hunters enjoy another special day


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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