Beware of rabid coyotes

 

According to MassWildlife, a coyote attacked 2 people in North Attleboro on November 20, 2017 while police were responding to calls about a coyote acting oddly. The North Attleboro police killed the coyote and sent it to the Department of Public Health (DPH) for rabies testing. Subsequently, DPH test results confirmed the coyote was rabid. MassWildlife is reminding the public to report any unusual animal behavior to local authorities and to take specific actions which reduces contact with coyotes.

In a recent press release, they stated that attacks by coyotes on people are a rare and unusual event. The North Attleboro attacks are the eighth and ninth documented attacks on people by coyotes since the 1950’s. Of the seven prior attacks, two coyotes were confirmed as rabid and three others were suspected as rabid, but the animals could not be captured for testing. The last coyote attack on a person was in the town of Kingston in 2015.

Rabies is a very serious disease affecting the nervous system of mammals, including cats, dogs, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and people. Rabies is caused by a virus and is almost always fatal. The virus found in saliva is usually spread from animal to animal or to people through bites. People who have been bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal should contact their health care provider. In most cases, immediate treatment for rabies exposure is necessary. If a pet has been attacked, owners should contact their veterinarian for advice.

MassWildlife urges the public to report any observations of wild or domestic mammals displaying symptoms of this fatal disease to local animal control officers. There are two kinds of symptoms, the “furious form” and the “dumb form”. Furious form symptoms include aggressive attacks on people or other animals, or random biting of objects. Dumb form symptoms are exhibited by animals acting sick, dazed, or paralyzed.

Rabies in coyotes is relatively uncommon. Since 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has tested 14 coyotes for rabies. Cumulative reports from the DPH summarizing rabies testing from 1992-2002 and annual reports from 2003 to 2016 are available on the DPH website and can be found at www.mass.gov/dph/rabies.

Coyotes live in rural, suburban, and urban areas throughout Massachusetts except for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Coyotes thrive where people live because there is a lot of food available–including garbage, fruit trees, bird seed, and suet. Small pets as well as wildlife attracted to birdfeeders are also a potential meal for coyotes. Coyote attacks on pets are not unusual; loose pets are at risk of attack by coyotes or other wildlife. Cats and small dogs are viewed as a potential meal for coyotes, while larger dogs, especially when off-leash, may be viewed by coyotes as a threat.

Interestingly, the subject of a recent rash of fox and raccoon rabies incidents in the Northern Berkshires was discussed during the October Meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen. Sportsmen were advised to be aware and forewarned.

To prevent contact with coyotes, MassWildlife recommends the following actions:

Remove all types of food: Coyotes eat bird seed, suet, and the small wildlife attracted to feeders. They also raid garbage and compost piles. Secure garbage in plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep them secure. Take out trash when the morning pick-up is scheduled, not the previous night. Remove bird feeders.

Stay outside with your pet: Pet owners should be present outside with their pets at all times and keep them under control, preferably on a leash. Unsupervised pets left outdoors are at risk of attack by coyotes or other animals. The presence of a human generally discourages coyotes.

For more tips on avoiding problems with coyotes, see MassWildlife’s Living With Coyotes Fact Sheet.

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, 2018. 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.
Don’t import deer from out of state
To keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from spreading to Massachusetts, it is illegal to import deer parts (from any deer species) from states or provinces where CWD has been detected. This includes OH, MD, NY, PA, VA, WV, and many other states. Live deer of any species may not be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose. It is legal to bring in deboned meat, clean skull caps, hides without the head, or a fixed taxidermy mount.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that is 100% fatal to all cervids, including deer, elk, and moose. It attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to exhibit abnormal behavior, become emaciated, and eventually die. Infected deer can spread the infectious agents through urine, feces, saliva, etc. for months before showing clinical symptoms. The infectious agents are in very high concentrations in the brain and spinal tissue, so an infected carcass left on the landscape can be a major problem. The infectious agents can remain in the soil for over 10 years and can be taken up into the leaves of plants that deer eat.
If you see a deer or moose in Massachusetts exhibiting any signs of this disease or any other disease, please contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.
So far, no CWD infected deer have been found in Massachusetts. Let’s try to keep it that way.
IDPA
The International Defensive Pistol Association will be holding a 2-Gun match on Sunday, December 10, weather permitting, at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association. It starts at 12:00 pm and ends at 4:30 pm. Shotgun and/or pistol, 3 stages, 30 #7 shot shell 150 pistol. Contact ssullee@icloud.com for more information. Also, all scheduled event information is listed at www.leesportsmen.com.
TU Holiday Party

The Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited is having its annual Holiday Party on Thursday, December 14 at the Crissey Farm @ Barrington Brewery, 420 Stockbridge Rd, Great Barrington. For the first time in chapter history, it’s Holiday party will be opened to the general public. It will be a buffet dinner which costs $30 pp. Social Hour with hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 PM. The event features a Door Prize and Donation Bucket Raffle. For more information call Bill Travis at (413)-447-9720 or email: traviswdt547@gmail.com. Reservations must be made by December 9.

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.

Enhancements made Richmond Pond boat ramp friendlier, safer
On Monday afternoon, November 6, a group of individuals met at the Richmond Pond boat ramp to celebrate the completion of its recent upgrades. With funds from the DFW Office of Fishing and Boating Access, the Natural Heritage Foundation and the Town of Richmond, some platforms were set up for wheelchair access and kayak ramp access. Richmond Selectman Al Hanson hosted the event.
He thanked the DFW Division of Public Access for making the boat ramp far more friendly and safer, noting that more people including handicaps will be able to use it. He thanked all those involved including the Richmond Highway Department for its efforts and involvement in having this become a reality.
MA Commissioner of Fish & Game Ron Amidon thanked the Baker/Polito Administration and EOEEA Secretary Matt Beaton for making sure “The monies got to the ground. It’s a heck of an upgrade with a nice platform which allows people to get on and off the water in a safe fashion.” He thanked the town of Richmond for everything they do to make sure land like this stays open.
State Senator Adam Hines, himself a kayaker, said that “You can see the natural beauty that we have here, that we cherish, that are so critical as to who we are and critical to our economic development. The more we can do to preserve that, the better off we are. The town of Richmond has been on the front lines to make sure we prioritized this project.”
“These lakes and ponds are so important to all of us here in Western Massachusetts, not only for people in the Berkshires and people who live on the ponds but for environmental tourism.” said MA Representative William (Smitty) Pignatelli. “That’s a serious opportunity for all of us who live out here in Western Massachusetts. Having access is critically important, that’s why this investment here today speaks highly. These are wise investments and the towns are wise to think about them as valuable assets. This is a great investment not only for the Berkshires but also for the town of Richmond”.
A representative from the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen commented how wonderful the project was, not only the ramp but also the handicap access.
Carl Foote from the Richmond Pond Association, the Association representing all of the landowners around the lake, spoke. “We are keenly interested in investing in this lake and keeping it healthy and keeping it a great place for recreation. What’s gone on this past year is a great enhancement.” He thanked Jerry Coppola for installing the benches as well as Holly Stover for all that she has done over the years.
Jack Shepard, Director of the MA Office of Fishing and Boating Access, the engineering agency for the Department of Fish & Game, thanked Secretary Beaton for providing the funds, as well as folks from the Richmond Highway Department and Terry Smith from his office. Terry is the senior environmental and civil engineer who designed this project, got the permits, etc.
There were others in attendance too, including DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden and retired Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George (Gige) Darey.
The ceremony had barely started when strong winds and rain whipped around. It was necessary for Highway Department personnel and others to hold the overhead tarps lest they went flying into the lake. But, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the ceremony nor the tasty cider donuts that someone was kind enough to bring.
The improvements include three ramps which reach the water’s edge, in addition to the pre-existing boat ramp. One ramp will have a 40-foot portable dock attached to it especially constructed to make it easier for the paddlers to get in and out of their kayaks/canoes. Not sure if shore anglers can use it, but the kayak/canoe fishermen will definitely benefit. There are two other ramps which allow handicapped anglers to reach water’s edge to fish.
The Richmond Pond Association purchased and the Richmond Highway Department installed two new benches which face East toward Lenox Mountain. The view is outstanding. Plaques have been installed on them by the Richmond Pond Association in memory of the late Jim Mooney and Lois Kelly, recognizing their lifetime work on behalf of the pond.
Lois’s major contribution to the pond was her proactive efforts, which were successful, to downsize the proposed condominium development on Richmond Pond that ultimately became South Pond Farm Condominiums. It was original proposed for about 72 condos, but ended up being limited to 42, with prohibitions on docks and moored boats, limits of tree cutting, etc. Among many other feats, Jim was remembered for his 40-year career with the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Pittsfield. The Camp Russell Swimming Pool and newly built Cabin (Mooney Hall) had previously been named in his honor.
A page from the June 2008 Richmond Record was distributed to all attendees. The article, entitled “Town Beach – from idea to final reality”, was written by Holly Stover. In it she described how her father, Arthur Howard, after returning home from WWII was alarmed to see the beginnings of extensive development along the south short of Richmond Pond. Although a native of Pittsfield, Arthur had close ties with Richmond having camped summers on Richmond Pond all his life. He and other Richmond residents were concerned that they were being cut off from having a safe and adequately sized area for recreation on the lake.
In 1945 public access was created by eminent domain takings from the Pittsfield Boy’s Club to create shore front access between Richmond Shores and Camp Russell. In the early 1950’s an agreement was made with the Boys Club to use a 50-foot wide shorefront lot between cottage lots on the south shore. The arrangement worked in a limited way for 20 years.
The northwest shore offered the most likely place to have a town beach. The late Darwin Morse purchased land for $5,000 and held it until the town was ready to accept it. They did so in 1957 and reaffirmed it in 1959 after considering another project. There was a lot of negotiating with the Boys Club, the Boston & Albany Railroad, Camp Allegro (owners of the dam), MA Division of Waterways, Public Access Board, Department of Natural Resources, and others to get adequate access to the property. An awful lot of work was performed by local residents, including Walter Iwanowicz, a local farmer who used his farm equipment to limit costs, Arthur and Fran Bartlett who negotiated with the Public Access Board and, of course, Arthur Howard.
By the early 1970’s the Richmond Town Beach and state boat ramp were in full use, which set the stage for last week’s event.
It is an interesting story and space does not allow me to list all of the events which transpired over the years to get to this point. Perhaps you can get a copy of Holly Stover’s above-mentioned Richmond Record article. It is a fascinating read which illustrates what united residents of a small town can accomplish for the common good of all.
Many thanks to Ken Kelly and Holly Stover for much of the data used in this column.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818

Young pheasant hunters enjoyed a wonderful day

On Saturday, October 7, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association held its Annual Young Adult Pheasant Hunt. That was the day before the opening of the regularly scheduled opening day of pheasant hunting season which MassWildlife reserves just for youths. LSA has held the hunt since 2006 in partnership with MassWildlife. This year, six youths participated in the hunt and every one harvested two pheasant each which is the daily limit. (I hope you noticed that four of the hunters were young ladies).
At the LSA, John Polastri of Becket, heads up the program and he is also a mentor. In addition to John, other mentors this year were George Haddad, Mike Gigliotti, Dick Salice, Doug Frank, Carl Hines and Mike Kelly and their dogs which included two Brittany Spaniels, 2 German Shorthairs and an English Cocker Spaniel. (Sorry, I don’t have their names). The dogs’ jobs were to find, point and flush the birds.
The Young Adult Pheasant Hunt Program builds the confidence of young hunters (ages 12-17) in a safe, friendly environment. They don’t need to be club members to participate.
These young hunters didn’t just walk into the fields and started shooting birds. First, they had to complete the Basic Hunter Education Program. Then, if they were 15 years or older, they had to obtain a Firearms Identification Card (FID). Then they had to find a nearby club to participate with for the seminar and hunt. Then they had to attend the Pheasant Seminar which included hands-on instruction in shotgun shooting fundamentals and firearm safety, how to have a safe and fun hunt, and information on upland hunting basics. Then onto the hunt to experience a real pheasant hunt under the supervision of an experienced hunter, who hopefully had a good bird dog.
At the LSA, John Polastri also gets the youths out onto the skeet field before the actual hunt for some skeet shooting practice. On the morning of the hunt, the kids had a good breakfast at the clubhouse, and at noon, they enjoyed a nice lunch. Later on, they were taught how to clean the pheasants. John thinks this is important because he doesn’t want them needlessly killing them and wasting the meat. (I hope their parents got hold of a good pheasant recipe and cooked up some pheasant under glass. Pheasant meat is a delicacy which only the finest restaurants have on their menus.)
I wonder if they saved any of the pheasant feathers for decorations. Also, the pheasant tail is an important feather for tying flies. The Pheasant Tail Nymph is an excellent trout fly which many, if not most anglers carry with them when they head for the streams.
Local participating sportsmen’s clubs are as follows:
Worthington Rod and Gun Club (Worthington)
Contact: Walter Fritz Jr.
(413) 238-5841
Email: ridgerdizzaboo@verizon.net
Lee Sportsmen’s Club (Lee)
Contact: John Polastri
(413) 822-8278
East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club (Williamstown)
Contact: Tom Brule
Email: tom.brule@gmail.com
To find out more about this program, click onto the MassWildlife web page. If you have more questions about the program, contact the Youth Hunt Coordinator Astrid Huseby at (508)-389-6305. Our local Western District Office in Dalton can help you also. (413) 684-1646.
Incidentally, it is worth noting that the LSA raises its own pheasants and stocks them on public lands twice a week. About 500 of them are stocked annually which can be hunted by the general public. Club member Brian Fenner heads up that effort along with help from David Morris.
If you are one of the pheasant hunters who benefits from their stocking program, please know it is fairly expensive to raise them. A great way to thank the LSC is to attend their pheasant rearing fundraising meal on the last Sunday in January.
New MassWildlife web page
All Massachusetts government websites are migrating to a new system, which means you will start to notice changes to the look and functionality of MassWildlife web pages. If you have any trouble finding information, go to Mass.gov/masswildlife and use the internal search box. With the new search engine, you should be able to find what you need on all mass.gov pages easier and faster than before. The new website is optimized for viewing on a tablet or phone as well as a desktop. MassWildlife asks that you please bear with them while they complete the website migration and make adjustments and improvements over the coming weeks. Also, MassWildlife recently announced that they are now on Instagram. Follow them @mass.wildlife for fish and wildlife news and photos and videos from the field.
Three Mile Pond Access Project –
Three Mile Pond, a 168-acre impoundment owned by MassWildlife, is the largest pond in Sheffield. It is part of the Three Mile Pond Wildlife Management Area which is 1,065.7 acres in size. Recently, MassWildlife announced that it has begun a project to improve boat access on the pond. This is a joint effort funded by MassWildife, Ducks Unlimited, the Outdoor Heritage Foundation, and the Office of Fishing and Boating Access. The project, which should be completed next spring, will result in a more usable parking and access for anglers and waterfowl hunters.
Elections
It’s that time for the sportsmen’s clubs to hold their annual elections.
Recently, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited elected Henry Swerin of Dalton its President, William Travis of Pittsfield its Treasurer and Fran Marzotto of Pittsfield its Secretary. The VP position is open.
At its last monthly meeting, the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen elected Tom Brule of Florida, MA its President, Wayne Mclain of North Adams its VP, Dan Kruszyna of Cheshire its Treasurer and me its Secretary.
Remembering our veterans
Planning on some quiet time sitting in a deer stand, hiking, paddling or enjoying Mother Nature in some form this upcoming week? You might want to look around and take a moment to silently thank those who fought and died to preserve this land and defend our freedoms. To all you veterans who are reading this column, many thanks for your service.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413) 637-1818

 

Benches dedicated in honor of Darey and Wislocki


Last Sunday afternoon, members of the Gould Meadows Restoration Committee held a ceremony at the waterfront of Gould Meadows on Stockbridge Bowl to dedictate two benches in honor of George Darey and George Wislocki. They were honored for their hard work and dedication enabling the transfer of land from the Gould Family to the Town of Stockbridge back in 1981.
After short talks by both men, paper weight plaques were presented to them with the same wording as on their benches: “To George”Gige” Darey/George Wislocki In recognition of George’s work in regard to the purchase and sale agrement from the Gould Family to the Town of Stockbridge in 1981” A toast of bubbly was presented by Tim Minkler of Interlaken, with the words “ “Hail! Hail! The two Georges for all their efforts preserving this land for future generations!”.
According to a historical note prepared by Wislocki, there were plans back in 1981to subdivide the 94.8 acre meadow into building lots. Committee member Minkler remembered that there were plans to build 60 homes on this land. “If this development had ever taken place, we could have seen 60 mega mansions on this land polluting Stockbridge Bowl. Thank God the two Georges stepped up to the plate to save this beautiful tract of land.” he said. (Darey was a member of the Lenox Board of Selectmen and MA Fish & Wildlife Board at the time and Wislocki was the Executive Director of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council).
In 1979, when Darey got wind that the Gould Meadows was going to be put on the market, he contacted Stockbridge Selectwoman Mary V. Flynn and soon thereafter a meeting was called. At that meeting it was decided that the Town of Stockbridge should attempt to secure an agreement to purchase the property from the estate of Lee Higginson Gould for the sum of $250,000.
The plan was to seek a grant from the State’s Division of Conservation Services for 50% of the cost and a second grant of 25% from the US Department of Interior. The remaining 25% was to be raised through a private fund drive. The Friends of Gould Meadows was formed to raise these funds.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra donated $22,000 . Other major contributors included the Laurel Hill Society and the Stockbridge Bowl Association. Joseph Kruger of Camp Mah-Kee-Nac contributed greatly and rallied the Bowl’s summer residents as well. During the next 24 months the Friends raised over $62,500 from 492 contributors with most of the credit for raising the monies going to Flynn whose affection for these lands appeared boundless.
George Wislocki attended to securing the State and Federal grants. State Senators Fitzpatrick and Webber as well as State Representative Duffin supported the endeavor. Unfortunately, there was a glitch. President Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt “froze” the entire allocation of the Land and Water Conservaion Fund with the consequence that the “federal share” came into doubt. Committee Co-Chair Henry Williams and Jack Fitzpatrick urged Congressman Silvio O. Conte to override Watt’s efforts.
However, it was not necessary as Rep. Duffin and Sen. Webber filed a bill in Massachusetts General Court which amended the State’s Open Space Grants Program. It was approved and the State could then contribute up to 80% of the purchase price of conservation land to be acquired by towns.
At its March 9, 1981 Town Meeting, the voters approved the necessary bonding authorization to acquire the property and keep it forever conservation lands. On August 19 of that year, a ceremony was held at Gould Meadows to honor Selectwoman Mary Flynn’s contribution to the purchase. A single oak tree was planted in the middle of the meadow and Bishop Leo O’Neil of Springfield blessed it. Governor King flew in by helicopter and music was provided by a small gathering of Tanglewood musicians. Beneath the tree a small plaque was installed which read: “This tree shall be known throughout time as the Mary Flynn Oak. Her wisdom, political skills and love of Stockbridge served to protect these meadows.”
The plaque has disappeared but the oak remains. Arthur Dutil of Stockbridge kept a watchful eye on the tree, watering and trimming it, and now it is sturdy and healthy. Every summer Gary Johnston of Interlaken mows the meadows around it. The Gould Meadows Restoration Committee is at the meadow most every Saturday morning doing various tasks. Volunteer helpers are always welcomed. Contact Tim Minkler at (413)644-3590 (w) or (413)298-4630 (h) if you wish to help out.
As Wislocki commented, the project wasn’t dominated by wealthy people but rather ordinary people and sportsmen who loved the Berkshires.
Talk about a beautiful meadow. It is on the southeast side of Rte 183, across from Kripalu.with signage and a small parking area. Access is free and open to the public. There are about 95 acres of open meadows and woods with around 1,000 feet of frontage on Stockbridge Bowl which comprises the area between the Tanglewood and Kripalu beaches.
Congratulations and many thanks to the two Georges!
Shad study
According to a recent news release, MassWildlife is teaming up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and New Hampshire Fish and Game to better understand juvenile American shad production in the Connecticut River. The study focuses on 3 major dammed sections of the river.
Forage fish like American shad are important prey resources for numerous freshwater predators popular with anglers, including small and largemouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish. However, little is currently known about juvenile shad production.
Using electrofishing sampling, biologists are learning about the relationship between the number of juvenile shad and the number of adult shad returning to the river to spawn. This coordinated effort will help biologists understand which areas of the Connecticut River have a higher supply of prey fish for predators and where anglers may find better fishing opportunities. Data may also be used to inform relicensing of dams and provide perspective on how current shad production compares to historical populations which existed before dams were installed.
East Branch Westfield River
If any anglers are wondering why the fishing isn’t that great this fall in the East Branch of the Westfield River, there is a reason. MassWildlife decided to skip stocking the river this fall due to the low water conditions.

The Fall Hunting Season Has Begun

Waterfowl, upland game birds, cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares hunting seasons have already opened up.
Woodcock (timberdoodle) hunting season opened on October 4 and runs through October 28. It reopens on October 30 and runs through November 18. It will be interesting to see how this season goes this fall for many folks never heard or saw any woodcock mating rituals on their properties last spring. Some wildlife biologists feel that with the early spring weather they began their migrations early and then got caught in the sudden return of wintry weather, killing many of them.
In our region, the duck and Canada goose hunting seasons opened on October 10 and will run through November 25. They reopen on December 4 and run through December 13 for geese and December 25 for ducks.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service estimate that there are 10.5 million mallard ducks this year, 11% lower than 2016 but 34% above the long-term average. The decline amounts to about 1.3 million birds less than in 2016. The bulk of that appears to be related to drier conditions in the Canadian parklands region, where the surveys detected about 0.6 million fewer mallards” they said.

Pheasant stockings
MassWildlife reported that some 40,000 pheasants will be liberated statewide this year. In our zone, the pheasant season opened on October 14 and runs through November 25.
Pheasants are stocked on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) and other locations that are open to the public for hunting. According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, they have changed the stocking schedules a little bit by varying the stocking times and days, but not the numbers of birds to be stocked. Unfortunately, some hunters had known the usual stocking dates and times and were frequently waiting for the stocking trucks to arrive. The new schedules will allow more people to have a chance at hunting them. Stocking locations and frequencies for the Berkshires are as follows:
Town(s) Stocked Management Areas Stocking Frequency / Week*
Cheshire / Windsor Stafford Hill WMA 2-3
Hinsdale Hinsdale Flats WMA 2-3
Lee Hop Brook WMA 2-3
Lenox George L. Darey Housatonic Valley WMA 2-3
Sheffield Three Mile Pond WMA 2
West Stockbridge Flat Brook WMA 2
Windsor Eugene D. Moran WMA 2-3
Windsor Peru WMA 1
Other stocked areas
Town(s) Other Stocked Areas Stocking Frequency / Week*
Great Barrington Beartown State Forest, between Monterey Rd and Mt Wilcox Rd. 2
Great Barrington Taft Farm off Rte. 183 and Division Road 2
Lee Meadow Street 2
Lenox Post Farm 2
Pittsfield Brattle Brook parkland east off Longview Terrace 2
Richmond Sleepy Hollow Road 2
Tyringham Slater Farm 1
Washington October Mtn. State Forest , dry reservoir site
2
Williamstown Taconic Trail State Park off Rte. 2 2
Due to factors including equipment failure, personnel, inclement weather, high water or other unforeseen circumstances they are unable to provide actual stocking dates and locations.
The ruffed grouse season also opened on October 14 and also runs through November 25.
Hunting Season Logs
Massachusetts hunters spend many hours in the woods observing wildlife of all varieties. These observations can provide wildlife biologists with a tremendous amount of information to better understand wildlife distribution and abundance across the Commonwealth. Consequently, MassWildlife is asking archery deer and game bird hunters to complete daily hunting logs during their hunting seasons this fall.
Hunters who complete hunting 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. 125 winners will be randomly selected to receive hats and 25 winners will be randomly selected to receive magazine subscriptions. Prizes will be mailed to the address provided by the hunter on the completed hunting log.
Bowhunters are asked to keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of wildlife during the archery deer season (Oct. 16 – Nov. 25, 2017). Game bird hunters are asked to keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of game birds while hunting bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodcock, and grouse (Oct. 14 – Nov. 25, 2017). Click onto the MassWildlife website to download a copy of the recommended logs.
Huge trout were stocked this fall
That’s according to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden. “The trout stocked this fall are some of the best quality fish that we have ever stocked during the fall season. Some of those fish weigh 3+ lbs.” So far, they stocked the Deerfield River, Upper Highland Lake, Littleville Reservoir, Pontoosuc Lake, Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Windsor Lake, Windsor Pond, Onota Lake, Richmond Pond, Stockbridge Bowl, Ashfield Pond, North Pond, Norwich Pond, Lake Buel, Big Pond and Otis Reservoir. As of this writing, there are no plans to stock the East Branch of the Westfield River this fall due to low water. If they get surplus fish, they will try later, but for now it’s off the list for this year.t
Lake drawdown
According to a bulletin issued by Lee Hauge, President of the Friends of Pontoosuc Lake, this year’s target level for the annual drawdown will be only 3 feet. This would have been the year for a deep (5 feet) drawdown, but the purpose of the deep drawdown is to control Eurasian Milfoil, and they have not observed this plant species in the lake since the spring of 2015. “This is surprising, and very good news,” wrote Hauge. “Therefore; there is no need for the deep drawn this year or anytime unless we experience a resurgence of this invasive species.”
The annual drawdown will begin Monday, October 16. They will lower the lake level at a rate of about 1 inch per day until the target level is reached. Refill will start at ice-out, except that if ice-out has not occurred by April 1 partial refill will be started then to enable fish spawning.
TU Meeting
Dr. David Christensen, a fisheries biologist from Westfield State University, will be the guest speaker at the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited meeting which will be held on October 19 at The Cork and Hearth Restaurant on Rt. 20 in Lee, MA (next to Laurel Lake). He will be speaking about both river ecology and lake/pond ecology and how it relates to fishing. With summer temperatures in the rivers being quite high and water levels low, we often have to look for other species and other waters to fish so as not to stress our resident trout. Christensen will shed some light on pike, pickerel and bass fishing as well during these summer months.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will begin with a social hour at 5:30 pm followed by a short business meeting at 6:00pm and then the presentation. Following the presentation an optional “order off the menu” dinner is contemplated. For more information contact chapter president John Burns at ((802) 318-1600.(413) 243-0535

Labrador trip came close to a washout

Last week I wrote about the Alberta, Canada flyfishing trip that Allen Gray, Paul Knauth and I took a few weeks ago. If you recall from my September 24, 2017 column, good flyfishing buddy Attorney Michael Shepard of Dalton returned to flyfish in Labrador with 8 other anglers most of whom he had fished with in Quebec and Labrador before. Last year, you may recall, they fished the Minipi River system. This time the anglers fished out of Igloo Lake Lodge on Igloo Lake, a different river system. Like last year, Mike Miller of Athol, MA arranged the trip.
While we arrived in our cottage in Blairmore, Alberta the same day we left home, Mike’s trip was a bit more entailed. They first had to drive to the airport in Montreal, Canada on Wednesday, August 16 and spend the night there. They flew out the next morning with a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia before landing in Goose Bay, Labrador. They spent that night in Goose Bay and then flew out (by float plane) to Igloo Lake arriving on Friday. When they returned, they did the same, with one exception which I will get into later.
Mike’s fishing partner on this trip was William Waite (Bill) from Westminster, MA (You may recall him from my article last year. He was the least experienced flyfisherman who caught the largest brook trout (8 lbs). Remember? His guide had forgotten the net and had to net it with a 5-gallon pail.)
Igloo Lake is located about 70 miles southeast of Goose Bay. Jim Burton is the owner of two lodges on that lake. According to Mike S., the facilities were beautiful, the boats were topnotch, his guide was the best he ever fished with and the food was restaurant quality. The lodges are located in one beautiful part of Labrador. Burton also owns a float plane which allows him to fly anglers out to other water bodies. There is a one mile stretch of river near the camp which flows into the lake, but the waters were low because of a drought there this past summer. The first day, Mike and Bill fished that stretch catching smaller trout.
The following day, Mike Miller and 3 others flew out to Char Lake, some 200 miles north of Igloo Lake to fish for Arctic Char. They congregate there during their spawning run. Because the float plane could only take 4 anglers at a time, Mike Shepard was scheduled to fly in on the second day. The anglers had phenomenal luck, catching some 80 char and sea run brook trout, many of them caught on char flies that Mike Shepard had tied for them. Well don’t you know, when it was Mike S.’s time to fly out the next day, there were 50 mph winds and the trip was postponed. Then came the rains and fog and a low ceiling. The nasty weather lasted for 3 days and Mike S. and Bill were never able to fly into Char Lake.) It was a big disappointment because Mike really wanted to catch an Arctic char on this trip.
While the other guys were fishing Char Lake, Mike S. and Bill fished the pond at the bottom of the nearby river and caught 6 or 7 pike averaging around 30 inches. Mike caught a 7 ½ lbs. brook trout.
The next day, they fished Burton Pond. To get there, they had a 30-minute boat ride across Igloo Lake and then trek 1 ½ miles across a peat bog. Burton Pond is a big lake, not connected to Igloo Lake, which runs into the Eagle River and ultimately to the North Atlantic. Mike S. and Bill trolled Zoo Cougers and green leech flies. They got into some 5-6 lbs. brook trout which were podding up and boated a dozen or so of those bruisers. Bill and Mike caught 17-18 northern pike in the 30-inch range in Igloo Lake using big green and purple bunny leeches.
On the last day at Burton Pond, Bill and Mike S. caught 22 brook trout all over 5 lbs. Bill caught 14 trolling and Mike caught 8. In the last hour of fishing, Mike proceeded to catch three 5-pound brookies, as well as a 6 and 7 pounder all on size 8 and 6 green drake dry flies.
Incidentally, all fish were released unharmed. They all had a very successful trip, wouldn’t you say?
On the August 25 return trip, they hit a snag. Their luggage was left behind in the Goose Bay airport. They had planned on spending the night in Montreal and enjoying a good meal; however, without their luggage, they didn’t even have a change of clothes. So, they drove home that evening. (Incidentally, Mike Shepard never got his luggage until September 25.)
There’s always potential drawbacks when you book a fishing trip to these hard to reach Canadian destinations. In order to reserve a spot, you have to book early, sometimes a year in advance, and you never know what conditions you will encounter when you get there. In Mike’s case, it was 3 solid days of wind and rain. If you recall, in our trip to Alberta, it was the fires that closed down our rivers. As they say, “You pays your money and you takes your chances”. (An old idiom with intentional grammatical errors).
At the time of this writing, there is another local angler on his way home from a Canadian fishing trip. Rex Channel of Pittsfield, who is a local fishing guide and owner of Allure-Outfitters. He actually fished Igloo Lake a couple of weeks before Mike and then headed west fishing all across Canada and parts of western US. Hopefully, I can write about his trip when he returns home.
Berkshire Natural History Conference
On Saturday, October 14, the 3rd Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference will feature presentations by local and regional naturalists, as well as acclaimed authors at the Berkshire Community College from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. MassWildlife will have a table set up at the event, and retired MassWildlife Biologist Jim Cardoza will make a presentation on wild turkey conservation.
Watch out for moose
MassWildlife urges drivers to use caution because it’s mating season for moose. During September and October, moose become more active and cross roads more frequently. Also in May and June during yearling dispersals, when yearling moose are driven away by their mothers. Moose eyes rarely shine because their eyes are above headlight level and their dark color makes them very difficult to spot at night.
I’m sure readers are tired of reading this advisory year after year. However; as you know, each year we have an influx of new young, inexperienced drivers on our roads who may not have gotten the word. It’s a good time to talk about this with your new drivers.
Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone: (413)637-1818

Attached is a picture of Attorney Michael Shepard with one of his large brook trout

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.

Think you know all of the freshwater fishes in Massachusetts?

 

Don’t answer that until you read the new MassWildlife brochure entitled Freshwater Fishes of Massachusetts. I don’t know about you, but I thought the only sunfish in Massachusetts were Bluegills (Lepomis Macrochirus) and Pumpkinseeds (Lepomis gibbosus). True, some classify the Crappie, Perch and Rock Bass as sunfish, but I don’t. Some others, including MassWildlife, categorize Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass as sunfish, but not me. I call them gamefish.

Well, according to the new MassWildlife brochure, there are also Banded Sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus), Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus) and Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) residing in the Commonwealth. In fact some have been caught here in the Western District. It also lists another kind of pickerel in Massachusetts called the Redfin Pickerel (Esox americanus) which only grows to a size of 6 to 10 inches and resides in the eastern part of the Commonwealth. Interestingly, in the Minnows family is listed the Common Carp (Ciprinus carpio). I don’t know about you, but I have a problem calling a 40 lbs carp a minnow!

This excellent new brochure, which is free at any DFW Regional Office, has excellent color pictures of them and other Massachusetts freshwater fish as well as other interesting information. Local DFW Aquatic Biologist Leanda Fontaine Gagnon had a hand in producing it.

New Natural Heritage Atlas
On August 1, 2017, the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) released the 14th Edition of the Natural Heritage Atlas. The Atlas is used by project proponents, municipalities, and others for determining whether or not a proposed project or activity must be reviewed by the NHESP for compliance with the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act Regulations.
Updated Priority and Estimated Habitats will be posted on the Division’s website and made available electronically as a downloadable geographic information system (GIS) data layer. Additionally, the Division will provide the town-based Priority and Estimated Habitat maps to planning boards, building inspectors, and conservation commissions in municipalities where these areas have been delineated. See www.mass.gov/nhesp for more information, including the final maps and a summary response to the Priority Habitat public comments.
NHESP, part of the Massachusetts DFW, is one of the programs forming the Natural Heritage network. NHESP is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state, as well as the protection of the natural communities that make up their habitats. The Program’s highest priority is protecting the vertebrate and invertebrate animals and native plants that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern in Massachusetts.
The overall goal of the Program is the protection of the state’s wide range of native biological diversity.
Riverside Trails Seminar, Saturday, September 9
According to the Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Trail Building is a process that is , complex and rewarding especially in a riverfront area.
The GB Land Conservancy invites you to learn about the planning and implementation of riverside trails from expert trail builder, Peter Jensen. The seminar will run from 10:00am until noon.
Peter has been building trails for over 30 years, and the Great Barrington River Walk was one of his early projects. Attendees can learn how this National Recreation Trail grew from a garbage filled bank to a rehabilitated riverfront area and peaceful in-town walkway celebrating the beauty and history of Great Barrington and the Housatonic River.
Peter will share his expertise and trail building experiences in a power point presentation followed by a guided walk along River Walk. The seminar is free and open to the public. Participants will have an opportunity to talk to Peter about their own trail projects or riverside trail goals. Register as soon as possible as space is limited at info@gbtrails.org
This program is provided by Great Barrington Land Conservancy as part of the 2017 River Walk Community Programs.

Community Celebration Day, also September 9
From 10:00am until 4:00pm, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council will be having a Community Celebration Day at the Holiday Farms, 100 Holiday Cottage Road in Dalton, MA. There will be hay rides, guided walks, archery, fishing, birds of prey with Tom Ricardi and music all day. While registration is not required, they ask you to consider letting them know by registering and getting a free ticket.

Massachusetts Outdoor Exposition, Sunday, September 17
The Massachusetts Outdoor Expo, also known as The Big MOE is a free, family-friendly event designed to introduce young and old to wildlife and the outdoors. Attracting several thousand attendees annually, the Big MOE features a variety of skills stations, craft tables, and other exhibits relating to wildlife and the outdoors. This is your opportunity to try new outdoor skills and activities such as fishing, archery, kayaking, shooting, building a bird box, geocaching, mountain biking, nature arts and crafts. Visit a New England Pioneer Encampment, take a peek at live birds of prey and native reptiles, be part of a tree stand safety demonstration and get up close and personal at the 4-H petting zoo. Local sportsmen’s clubs, outdoor businesses, conservation organizations and state agencies sponsor most of the activity stations.
You may recall last year that the event was cancelled, presumably due to liability issues. Well, this year adults and youths will be required to sign a Liability Release Form. This form can be found at the Big Moe Fawns Expo website and you are asked to print it off beforehand and bring one per person with you.
The Big MOE location is the Hamilton Rod & Gun Club in Sturbridge, MA. Admission, parking and all activities are free. Convenient parking provided at the Sturbridge Business Park, 660 Main St., with free shuttle bus transportation. No pets or alcohol allowed, but food and drink are available for purchase.

Local turkey hunter is an inspiration to us all


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

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