Record turnout for Jimmy Fund Derby

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Basic Hunter Education Course

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.    One will be taught at the Worthington Rod & Gun Club, 458 Dingle Road Rte. 112 – Worthington, MA., on the following dates:  July 24, 25, 27 and 28 from 5:30 to 9:00 PM.  Participants must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.  To enroll, call (508)389-7830.

 

License to Carry Courses

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

 

Wild Turkey Surveys

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

 

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

 

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

 

Bald Eagles

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

Pittsfield teenager will compete in National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships

 

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association (LSA) recently announced that one of its junior athletes, Lena DuPont, of Pittsfield, has earned and accepted a first round invitation to compete in the 2017 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships for Air Pistols.   They will take place at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO on April 20 – 24.  Lena is 14 years old and an 8th grade High Honors student at TEC Connections Academy.

To compete is quite an honor, as only the finest junior athletes in the nation are invited. The event provides an opportunity for obtaining possible future shooting scholarships and a National Junior Team appointment, which allows them to compete internationally.  Standing shoulder to shoulder with the best shooters in the country makes this match one of the most competitive events in which Lena will participate.

She is a member of LSA’s Air2Spare youth air pistol team, and earned a Silver medal with two teammates (Riley Laurent and Cooper Maloney) at the 2016 Baystate Games.  They were taught by Air2Spare founders and coaches Cliff and Vicki White.  Berkshire Eagle reporter Jacob Mendel, covered these winners in his August 1, 2016 article entitled, “Air2Spare air pistol shooting club continuing growth after Baystate Games showing”. Lena was also featured last summer on WNYT (Albany TV) during the Olympic games

Lena then went on and won a Silver medal at the 2016 Progressive Position Pistol (PPP) Nationals in Ft. Benning, GA in her category for the Eastern Region, and placed 7th overall in the nation.

She is excited for this opportunity and says, “I was really surprised and happy to get this invitation. It’s the equivalent of a shooting Christmas for me and the other junior shooters who were invited!”

Incidentally, Lena is fundraising to help offset the travel costs associated with attending the championships in Colorado.  Her GoFundMe link is: https://www.gofundme.com/lenadupont2017.  For offline donations, contact her mom Stephanie DuPont at (215) 668-7808 or email dupontfam5@gmail.com.

Good luck, Lena!

International Defensive Pistol Association

The outdoor matches of the IDPA and Sheet Matches seasons at Lee Sportsmen Club are starting soon.   Refer to the LSA web site calendar for a list of all match dates.    You do not have to be a member of the Lee club to participate and new shooters are always welcome.  The IDPA is a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters.  Each stage is purposely different to force you to practice different skills.   You will need a 9mm or larger and 3 mags minimum.   The rules of IDPA are followed for safety and scoring. The matches are typically $15 to participate.  There are many IDPA videos on You Tube and they recommend this starter one:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke-20oCBTOM

 

Steel matches are typically strings of 5 targets repeated 5 times/strings. It’s best if you have 5 magazines.  These matches are rim and center fire pistol and 22 rifle friendly.  Shawn Sullivan ssullee@icloud.com is the best point of contact for IDPA and steel.    New shooters must attend a safety orientation prior to their first shoot.  Each match begins with a safety briefing.  Sign in time is 12:15-12:30 for afternoon matches.

 

Trout Stocking

The following local Western District waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:  Deerfield River (Buckland, Charlemont, Florida), East Branch Westfield River (Chesterfield, Cummington, Windsor), Housatonic River C&R (Lee), Farmington River (Otis, Sandisfield),  Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Richmond Pond, and Stockbridge Bowl.  The schedules were subject to change.

Monitoring our water quality

While the Clean Water Act of 1972 was established to help make our rivers swimmable and fishable, most of our rivers still don’t meet that goal, especially after a rainstorm, due to the pollutants carried down the storm drains to the river. That’s according to the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), who informs us that each of us has the opportunity to make choices that improve the water quality of our rivers and lakes.

Yesterday the HVA conducted a Water Quality Monitoring Training at the Bill Laston Memorial Park in Lanesborough.  Once a month, the trained volunteers will collect water samples at designated locations on Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton and the Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River in Pittsfield. They volunteered for one morning, once a month, from April through October. The goal of this sampling is to determine current bacteria levels in the above mentioned waters. Segments of these tributaries are currently listed as impaired due to high bacteria levels. If the sampling shows that bacteria levels have dropped, these tributaries may be taken off the state’s impaired waters list. If you missed yesterday’s meeting, check with Alison Dixon, HVA Berkshire Outreach Manager at (413)298-7024 to see if you can still get involved.  The time commitment is 30-40 minutes per month.

Also, the HVA will be conducting Stream Team training on Tuesday, April 4 from5:30 to 7pm at the Mason Library, in Great Barrington, and Saturday, April 8 from  2:30 to 4:30pm at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.  This spring volunteers will help complete river assessments on the Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River (Pittsfield) and the Green River (Austerlitz, NY to Great Barrington) Volunteers will walk or paddle a 1 – 2 mile segment of the river and record observations.

Our streams and rivers are also affected by acid rain.  Today, volunteers are gathering water samples from hundreds of streams and rivers across the state and delivering them to designated laboratories for analysis. This acid rain monitoring program has been ongoing for more than 30 years and good baseline data has been accumulated.  It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, President Trump’s new executive order addressing coal production will have.

Sweren receives Crooked Staff Award

 

At its December meeting, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) presented Henry Sweren of Dalton its most prestigious award, the Crooked Staff Award.  He was also presented a plaque and, newly instituted this year, the use of the late Mr. Ernest Goodrod’s fly rod for the upcoming year.

Henry is a Life Member of TU.  He originally joined the Merrimac River Chapter of TU (New Hampshire) in 2001, but after moving to the Berkshires, he became a valuable member of the Board of Directors of the Taconic Chapter. He has helped in arranging the International Fly Fishing Festivals which have been held locally.  He participated in the OLLI (Osher Life Long Institute) program teaching people how to fly cast, tie knots, etc.  He is also a life member of the Farmington River Anglers Association.

I first wrote about the Crooked Staff 14 years ago and it occurred to me that some readers were young tykes back then and perhaps know nothing about this rich Taconic TU tradition.

 

Well, nearly every year since the mid 1980’s the Chapter’s Board of Directors selects one of its members to receive this coveted award. The person is selected as the member who best represents the ideals of T.U. (conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds).  This member holds the Crooked Staff for the following year until it is either passed on to another deserving member or is held, if none is deemed deserving.

 

The staff itself was the brain child of Ken Welch, one of the chapter’s past members who has since moved to the New York State Finger Lakes area. He related the following story about the origin of the staff which he claimed was true. However, members wonder if the social hour preceding the meeting when he introduced it affected his veracity.  In any event the moral of the story is still solid:

 

“Many years ago there lived a trout fisherman who was the epitome of the ultimate gentleman angler. He was a man who was honest to a fault, one who needed no guidelines such as game laws by which to live. He was a man who always did the proper thing because it was the right thing to do. Mr. Ernest Goodrod was that man.

 

He would never wade into another man’s pool, he never kept under-sized fish, nor exceeded the lawful limit. In fact he felt those laws weren’t written for him since he had always practiced Catch and Release. Mr. Goodrod stopped to help young anglers that he felt could use his expertise; he never lied about the quantity or the quality of his catches. He was free with his advice and shared the location of favorite fishing holes with strangers. He was truly a gentleman’s gentleman.

 

In spite of a heart condition he fished frequently, and often alone. Being of an advanced age he always had his wading staff tied to his belt with a rawhide tether. It was cut from a strong, straight tree and left in its natural state. Straight, strong, and pure, not unlike Mr. Goodrod. But alas, the day came when he didn’t return from his favorite stream; his heart had finally failed him. He was found at the Bridge Pool by the local near-do-well, a despicable man who lied cheated and connived his way through life. He was noted for following the trout stocking trucks to take as many trout as possible. When this awful man found Mr. Goodrod, he stripped him of his rod, vest, waders and wading staff. For most of that summer he used his stuff, including the staff, but every time he broke the law the staff would get shorter due to it taking on a coil and eventually the staff became unusable.

 

One evening the local game warden arrested the bum, jailed him and confiscated all his fishing tackle, including the crooked staff. Everyone knew that the staff was once the property of Mr. Goodrod and the story spread that if a real gentleman of Mr. Goodrod’s caliber were to handle the staff it would straighten out to its original splendor.

 

Ken Welch obtained the staff but in spite of him being a fine gentleman the staff remained crooked. Somewhere Ken had a hidden flaw. He was aware of the fine character of the members at the Taconic Chapter of T.U. and figured one of its members could remove the coils. Ken suggested that if the staff was presented to the one who most represented the ideals of T.U., the staff would be restored, but alas after many, many recipients, it remains crooked. Apparently each honoree had a hidden flaw in his or her character. Some day the likes of Mr. Goodrod will be found, so it is hoped.”  Let’s see if Henry Sweren can straighten it out.

 

Recently, charter member Homer Ouellette, himself a Crooked Staff recipient, passed beyond the river bend. Unbeknownst to the TU members, he had gained possession of Mr. Goodrod’s flyrod.  Homer’s brother Paul Ouellette, from Lanesborough, brought it to the recent TU meeting hoping that it would be presented to future deserving crooked staff recipients.  On it is inscribed, “Property of Mr. Ernest Goodrod”. A new TU tradition has been formed.

 

License-to-Carry Courses

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association and the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club are both sponsoring Massachusetts LTC courses. Completion of these courses awards the candidates a MA State Police Certificate which is required to apply for your MA LTC.  The Lee course is on January 14 from 9am to 3pm. The cost is $125 per person.  Contact Rob M. at 413-232-7700, or e-mail robmcdermott@verizon.net to register.

 

The Lenox course is on January 15, from 10am to 2pm. The cost is $70.00 per person.   Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com to register.

 

2016 shotgun deer hunting season off to a good start

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Coyote Derby

Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield is having its Coyote Derby again this year.  It will run until the end of coyote hunting season which is March 8, 2017.  Entrance fee is $10 and prizes will be awarded to the person who bags the most coyotes, the largest coyote and there will also be a random draw.

 

Licenses on sale

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

 

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

 

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

 

2016 Guides are available

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

 

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

 

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

Shotgun deer hunting season opens tomorrow

 

 

Well, here we go again.  Another sleepless night tossing and turning in anticipation of tomorrow’s opening day of shotgun deer hunting.    Memories of previous opening days will undoubtedly flash through our minds.  In my case, with the exception of a few years serving Uncle Sam, I have 59 such opening days to relive tonight.  I might as well not even go to bed as I’ll be up before 4 AM anyway.

 

One memory that comes up regularly each year was the 1990 deer season.  I had hunted in West Stockbridge one day with no luck, not seeing any deer or fresh tracks.  Around noon, I was getting cold and decided to call it quits and go home early.  Just before pulling onto my street, I changed my mind and decided to go up on October Mountain and hunt there for an hour or two.

 

Once there, I entered the woods behind where the old fire tower used to be.  (Remember that place old timers?)  My plan was to go down the wooded hill until I reached the edge of the swamp and take a stand there until around 3 PM.    Then I planned to make a u-turn and come back to my truck.

 

I was hunting alone and it was a cold, windy day with a few spits of snow flurries.  There was no snow on the ground for tracking, but upon approaching the swamp, I detected some freshly disturbed leaves indicating that a deer had recently passed through.  I carefully, silently tracked the deer into the swamp.  After a while I spotted it about 50 yards ahead in thick brush.  It was motionless facing the other direction and had not detected me.  I got down on one knee to steady my aim but there was a problem.  Its legs and back were clearly visible but I couldn’t clearly see its head in the brush and couldn’t determine if it was a buck or doe.  I didn’t have a doe permit.

 

After staying down on one knee for the longest time, my leg started to ache.  I finally dropped onto two knees, but that didn’t spook the deer.  It seemed like an hour passed with neither of us moving.  I didn’t want to move my arm to see what time it was but I knew it was getting late…..perhaps 3 PM.  Realizing I could stay no longer, I stood up and the deer spotted me and bounded off.   I’ll never know what its sex was.

 

It was time to turn around and head back up the hill to my truck.  While heading back out of the swamp, I began encountering thicker vegetation and the ground was becoming soggier.  I didn’t remember it being that wet when I went in.  After a while, it became clear that I had entered the swamp at some other location, with firmer, drier  ground.   I tried getting out of it at several different places but with no avail.  It never occurred to me to use my compass as I only went into the woods a short way, plus I could see the hill that I wanted to get to on the other side of the swamp.

 

About then I was really concerned because the sun had set and it was becoming steadily darker.  Reality was setting in that I was “turned around”.  (Hunters don’t get lost, they just get turned around).  They say not to panic at times like this and I kept telling myself just that.  After all, I reasoned, I am not in some endless wild kingdom, but on October Mountain where I spent many hours hunting snowshoe hares with my beagles.  In spite of that, my heart was pounding rapidly.

 

Experienced outdoorsmen say not to roam around in the dark, but get a good place against a lean-to or some other makeshift shelter, hunker down, light a fire if you can and wait until morning when you can see better.   Don’t you know, I left my thermos, munchies and flashlight in the truck, thinking I wouldn’t be there long.

 

Then I remembered that I told my wife Jan that I would be hunting in West Stockbridge.  No one knew I was here!  There was no way to call her as cell phones weren’t around back then.  When she gets home from work and finds me not there, she will probably call the police and report me missing and tell them I was hunting in West Stockbridge.  After a while, there would perhaps be search parties, sirens, etc.  Oh, the embarrassment of it all!

 

Well, I thought, if I am going to spend the night  in these woods, I might as well spend it out of this swamp and on the dry hill behind me.  Who knows, perhaps when I get high enough, I might be able to see where I originally crossed that swamp.

 

I was nearing the top of the hill, when I saw something shining up ahead.  It was the moon reflecting off of my truck!   Apparently in pursuit of that deer, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.  I am ever so grateful that I didn’t shoot that deer and for not persisting on crossing that swamp.  If I did, I would still be there dragging it in the wrong direction.

 

I sure made some blunders that day.  Can you name them all?

 

Here’s hoping you deer hunters have a safe and enjoyable hunt, and don’t make the blunders that I made that day

 

License to Carry Class:

The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a Mass State Police Compliant LTC Course on Saturday, December 3, from 9 AM to 1 PM.  The cost is $70.00 per person.  Preregistration is required.  If interested contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or tnadolny1@gmail.com

Deer Hunting Opportunity for Paraplegic Hunters

 

For nearly 45 years, MassWildlife has offered paraplegic sportsmen and sportswomen the opportunity to hunt deer in several locations across the state during a special three-day season. This year’s hunt dates are November 3 – 5.  Locations include Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (Harvard/ Lancaster), Quabbin Reservation (Belchertown), two properties in northern and southern Berkshire County, and Otis/Edwards Military Reservation (Falmouth).

MassWildlife staff work with volunteers to help place hunters in areas at several hunt locations. When a hunter successfully shoots a deer, the waiting volunteers assist the hunter by retrieving the deer, field dressing it and getting it checked in with MassWildlife staff on site.

Sportsmen and volunteers alike enjoy this opportunity to spend time together in the great outdoors, counting the hunt as successful if they are fortunate enough to see a deer.

In 1972, the deer hunt was held at the Phillipston WMA and the following year in the town of Rowe. The hunt location then moved to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in subsequent years. Due to access issues on the islands, locations in Williamstown and in and around Mt Washington State Forest were utilized for much of the 1980’s and 1990’s with an occasional location in Middlesex County. Since 2000, the Department of Conservation and Recreation has hosted a third site at Quabbin Park in Belchertown. In 2003, a partnership with the US Army at Devens (formerly Fort Devens) resulted in a fourth location for paraplegic sportsmen to try their luck.

Each year, approximately 25-30 paraplegic hunters sign up for the special hunt.  In the past five years, these hunters have taken an annual total of 7-8 deer, amounting to a greater than 25% success rate. For a number of these people, it’s the only opportunity they have to hunt, an activity that is an important part of their lives.

According to MassWildlife, last year twenty five hunters with paraplegia participated in the deer hunt from October 29 to 31.  Three deer (2 bucks, 1 doe) were taken, which translated to a 12% success rate for the 2015 hunt. Many hunters saw deer and several got the opportunity to shoot. This hunt has provided thousands of hours of recreational opportunities for paraplegic sportsmen and women since 1972.  MassWildlife Biologist Trina Moruzzi has been the Hunt Coordinator for the past 15 years.  She noted that volunteers are integral to the program and thanked them for their enthusiasm and commitment.  DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden and his staff rarely miss an opportunity to help out. I also enjoy getting a group picture of the hunters for this column annually.

Licensed paraplegic hunters who have an interest in participating in this hunt should contact Trina Moruzzi at (508) 389-6318 or by email at Trina.Moruzzi@state.ma.us for more details. Contact her by October 24 (tomorrow) to ensure you can get your permit in time.

 

Trail Cam users help scientists study mammals

Trail cameras are used by nature lovers and the sporting community to catch glimpses of Massachusetts’ more elusive, usually crepuscular, wildlife. Hollie Sutherland, a graduate student at UMass Amherst, is studying the feasibility of using a citizen scientist network of trail cameras to study mammals in Massachusetts. Bobcat, mink, moose, and bear are among the seldom seen animals that Sutherland and her colleagues hope to learn more about. In the long run, this citizen science project aims to engage the public in providing photos and videos. Sutherland has developed a survey to determine the level of citizen interest in wildlife, who owns a trail camera, and how they use their trail cameras. She invites anyone over 18 to consider completing a short (5-15 minute) survey. You do not need to own a trail camera to take part. To take the survey, go to http://bit.ly/InterestinNature_TrailCamSurvey. Once completed, you will receive a free Massachusetts Bobcat desktop wallpaper image for completing the survey.

 

Skeet shooting

In its September newsletter, the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club reported that for the 13th year out of the last 14, its skeet team prevailed in the 2016 Tri-Club Skeet Championships.  Heading to the Sheffield Club for the final leg on August 28 they were ahead by a scant bird.  When the smoke cleared they added another half dozen or so targets to their lead.  Bob Cameron and Gary Harrington scored 49 out of 50 birds, while wheelchair shooter, Frank Kline, showed everyone how to overcome adversity as he posted a score of 48.  Jim Johnson, Tom Gansowski and Joe Ary all kicked in with 47’s, while Darren Coffy broke 46 targets.  Shaun Sullivan, Bob Krupski and Wayne Slosek rounded out the scoring that gave them a total of 461 out of 500 targets for the day.    Fancy shooting indeed.

 

Fly tying classes cancelled

Readers may recall from my September 25 column that the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation was exploring the possibility of having free fly tying classes beginning on October 12 at the hatchery in Hartsville/New Marlborough.  Unfortunately, there was not enough interest and the classes will not take place.

 

Air pistol team

The American Legion Post 125 is sponsoring an air pistol course at its post at American Legion Drive in North Adams.  Designed for ages 10 to 18, it will run the 1st, 3rd and 4th Thursdays of the month.  Practice will actually take place at the post, thanks to a back drop built by students from McCann Tech.  The American Legion helped in getting the equipment for the course.  The course is billed as a way to develop positive life skills of responsibility, integrity and teamwork.  It should help prepare the students for Olympic level competition.  Instructors are Mary Angelo-Roberts, Pat Blackman and Tom Webb.   For more information call Mary at (413)441-7624 or Pat at (413)441-1402.

New gun enforcement order prompts gun owners to rally

 

I had been hearing a lot of negativity about new gun restrictions that were implemented by Massachusetts Attorney General Healey recently.    I attended the rally opposing those restrictions which was held at Park Square in Pittsfield on Friday, August 6.  Over 160 people attended that rally bearing flags and placards.

I sought out GOAL Executive Director James Wallace seeking answers to two questions:  What exactly does the new enforcement order say and what are the gun owners’ objections.

When I posed the first question to Jim, his answer was, “That’s the problem, no one understands it.”  He claims that AG Healey found two little words in the so called assault weapons law – “copies” and “duplicates”.  He explained that since 1994, when the Federal law was in effect, and then in 1998 when the state adopted the law and then in 2004 when the Federal law was sunsetting, the State acted in emergency legislation to permanently adopt the Federal definitions to the Mass law.  So from 1994 on, everybody understood the rules.  Everybody knew exactly what gun makers could manufacture, what dealers could sell and what the public could buy and register.

“Twenty-two years later”, Wallace said, “She takes the initiative on those two words to redefine what an assault weapon is.  There is no clarity in what she did, nobody understands it and if they say so they are lying.  In its broadest interpretation it could include virtually every semi-automatic gun out there, not just AR’s or AK’s”.    It is Wallace’s belief that AG Healey doesn’t want clarification.

According to Wallace, when AG Healey held a press conference on July 20, she accused the industry of making up its own rules.  “So recently, media has been approaching her about clarifying this and she said that she put out the enforcement letters and now it up to the industry to figure out how to comply”.  She just accused them of doing that and now she is changing the rules about clarifying it and saying it is still up to the industry to figure that out.  This affects hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts families, this isn’t just a few people who bought a gun they weren’t supposed to have”.

“The other thing to remember”, Wallace said, “since the 1994, 1998 and 2004 laws took effect, for 22 years, manufacturers have been making these compliant guns, retailers have been selling them, people have been buying and registering them.  Every single transaction that has taken place since 1994 had to be registered through the State.  So they have had 22 years to say we’ve got a problem with what you guys are buying, selling, manufacturing”.

When I mentioned that AG Healey said they are not going to take the guns away from legal owners and gun dealers that have them already, he said, “ What people really need to pay attention to is the fine print.  The very last line of that enforcement letter says that The Attorney General’s Office reserves the right to alter or amend this guidance. So even though she promised not to prosecute at this time, it doesn’t stop someone else from doing it in the future.  What’s to stop an aggressive DA or police chief the next time you go to renew say that they checked your records, you bought two of these guns, that’s felony.  You are now an unsuitable person and you have got to turn in your guns and license.  She made hundreds of thousands of felons over night”, he said.

GOAL has learned that the AG Healey is currently seeking information from the firearms industry regarding customer lists, manufacturing dates and serial numbers for guns, even hand guns and .22s. He believes that this is just her first move and that she is trying to put the firearm industry out of Massachusetts.  According to Wallace, there are already over 100 state legislators who opposed her actions.

So what does the order specifically state? The AGO referred me to its web site that has the information, so I gleaned information from the July 20 order:  “…We are sending a directive to all gun manufacturers and dealers that makes clear that the sale of these copycat assault weapons is illegal in Massachusetts. With this directive, we will ensure we get the full protection intended when lawmakers enacted our assault weapons ban, not the watered-down version of those protections offered by gun manufacturers.

The directive specifically outlines two tests to determine what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” of a prohibited weapon. If a gun’s operating system is essentially the same as that of a banned weapon, or if the gun has components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon, it’s a “copy” or “duplicate,” and it is illegal. Assault weapons prohibited under our laws cannot be altered in any way to make their sale or possession legal in Massachusetts.

We recognize that most residents who purchased these guns in the past believed they were doing so legally, so this directive will not apply to possession of guns purchased before Wednesday (July 20)”.

In later remarks, she said that dealers who currently have these weapons on hand are not permitted to sell them to Massachusetts buyers. They may transfer them out-of-state to jurisdictions where sales of these weapons are legal.

Perhaps you are like me, not owning or desiring to own one of those guns, and not giving this matter much attention.  After all, they say that they are not going after our 3 or 5 shot semi-automatic hunting guns.  Well, how many politicians do you believe these days?  Maybe we should pay closer attention to this matter.

Huge Brown Trout caught by local man out of Lake Ontario

 

On the May 21-22 weekend  Eric Kozlowski of Cheshire,  his father, John, and two friends, Kevin Wojtkowski and Kyle Halverson went on a 2 day fishing trip to Lake Ontario.  They had chartered a boat, Trout One Charters, and were sailing out of Mexico Bay, NY.

On the second day of the trip, it was an overcast morning and the lake was “calm, like a pool table”, as John put it.   They were trolling in about 10 feet of water using a stickbait.   At around 6:10 AM, Eric hooked into what everyone thought was a king salmon, because of the fight and all the runs it took. Twenty minutes later, as the fish got closer and could be netted, it turned out to be a monster brown trout. It weighed 22 lbs 4 oz., was 32 inches long with a 25 1/2 inch girth.

It was a trout of a lifetime for Eric. Had he taken that fish during the Spring 2016 LOC Derby, (Lake Ontario Derby) he would have won it hands down, as the largest brown recorded in that prestigious derby weighed 16 lbs 2 oz.   He intends to have the fish mounted.

John charters Trout One every year. On this trip, the group caught 6 brown and 15 lake trout,  with most of them being released.

Up until recently, Trout One Charters was owned and operated by Jim Carpenter, of Adams, MA who chartered on Lake Ontario for many years.

 

Bryan Kopala is an avid outdoorsman who has been fishing on Lake Ontario since he was 12 years old. His love of the lake inspired him to take a position as the first mate on Trout One in 1995 working alongside his mentor and friend Jim Carpenter. In 2000 he became a licensed charter captain through the United States Coast Guard.  He recently bought the business from Carpenter.

Since 1995, Trout One has won several trout/salmon team tournaments including the 2006 and 2011 Oswego County Pro-Am, and the 2007, 2009, and 2013 Little Salmon River Challenge. In addition, Trout One clients have won 1st place in the 2012 Fall LOC Derby salmon division, 3rd place in 2015 Fall LOC Derby salmon division, and 2nd place in the 2007 Fall LOC Derby brown trout division.

 

Congratulations to the Buckshots

The Buckshots, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association youth shooting team, recently brought home medals from the Baystate Games.   Greer Hines placed first and Ben Haddad placed third in their respective Divisions in Double Trap Shooting.  In addition, both also placed third in 16 yard Singles Trap with Hines scoring 83 and Haddad scoring 89. As a result of these wins, they have qualified for the State Games of America to be held in 2017 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Congratulations to them, their teammates Brian DuBois and Alex Kusick and Coach Karl Hines.

 

Paddling the Housatonic River

On Tuesday, July 19, from 3PM to 6PM, the Housatonic Valley Association is leading a 6 mile paddle trip along the Housatonic River through Lee to South Lee. Some paddling experience is preferred as there are sections of quick water and downed trees to negotiate.  Participants can reserve a canoe or register to bring their own canoe/kayak. The cost is $20/ adult (nonmember) or $15/adult (member) or family rate $35 (nonmember families) and $25 (member families.) Preregistration required.  Call HVA at 413-394-9796 or email adixon@hvatoday.org. Program support provided by Housatonic Heritage.

Jack Silvernale

Jack Silvernale, from Millerton, NY is an esteemed member of the Berkshire Beagle Club as well as a highly respected field trial judge known throughout the Northeast.  Jack has judged at least 200 Field trials from Michigan to Maine and as far South as Virginia, and most points in between.  He has acted as Field Trial Chairman at the Berkshire Beagle Club for several years.  His own dogs have won many field championships.

 

Well, recently Jack took a terrible fall at work when scaffolding fell from underneath him at work, 20 feet to the ground.  He was transported to Hartford hospital by LifestarHe was transported to Hartford hospital by LifestarHe was transported to Hartford hospital by LifestarHe was transferred to Hartford Hospital by LifeStar.  In the fall he sustained serious injuries to his ribs, collar bone, neck and back.  He went through surgery on his back and they fused bones in his neck, and put two plates and over 100 pins in his back.  They had Jack up and walking (not very much) but he was happy he was able to just wash his hands.

 

Unfortunately, Jack does not have health insurance and won’t be able to return to work for some time. .  A gofundme (official site for raising funds) has been set up for Jack’s medical bills at https://www.gofundme.com/29kxwxq4.  Any help would be greatly appreciated by Jack and his family.

Young turkey hunters experience mild weather, successful hunts

Along with their mentors, youths took to the woods in the wee morning hours last Saturday morning taking advantage of the special Youth Turkey Hunting day.   The early morning weather couldn’t have been better and lots of gobblers were seen by most. Rick Gale was responsible for teaching the class and organizing the hunts for the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club.   Eleven kids participated with five of them bagging gobblers.   Three others had shot opportunities but didn’t connect.  Successful hunters were 13 year old Grace Krzanik who was mentored by her father Scott.  This was her 3rd season hunting and 1st tom.  She took it at 23 yards and it weighed 19 lbs.  14 year old Bryant Martin, who was mentored by Bill Adelt,  took a 20 lb 12oz tom at 30 yards.  Both were one shot kills. Other successful hunters were Mia Gale, Lucas Jamros and Paolo Kareh, but they did not return to the club after their hunt. At the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, spokesman Mike Buffoni reported that 18 youths went out and 6 of them got gobblers.  All of them saw plenty of turkeys and had a great day.  The largest tom, weighing in at 21 lbs, was taken by Matthew Fletcher of Lenox.   (Sorry, I was unable to get the names of the other successful hunters.)  Buffoni reported that there were a lot of big toms around this year due to the non-existent winter.

At the Lee Sportsmen’s Association, spokesman Matt Ranzoni reported that 6 youths participated and three of them were successful.  The lucky hunters were Owen Bush, Hunter Briggs and Donovan Caccomo.  (Donovan came all the way from Milton, NY to participate.)  All three birds were jakes.  The other hunters also came close to bagging their birds.   It is interesting to note that some of this year’s mentors participated in the Youth Turkey Hunt when they were kids and they are now passing on their knowledge to younger hunters.  Such was the case with Sam Polastri.  He was mentored by his dad John and now that he has turned 18, he was mentoring his younger friend Matt LeProvost this year.

After the hunts, each club provided tasty lunches.  Incidentally, the regular spring turkey hunting season opened the following Monday and runs until May 21.  Turkey hunting is one of the most dangerous types of hunting.  Unfortunately, we had an accidental shooting last week in Williamstown.  If you have youngsters interested in taking up this sport, I strongly urge that you to get them enrolled into next year’s Youth Turkey Hunt program. If you plan  to be a mentor, you might listen in yourself.  Check out the MassWildlife web site to find out which local clubs are involved, how the program works and how to enroll. izes are given away to the winners of the fishing derby 8 trophies for the Children 4 trophies for Adults & 3 trophies that can be won by adults or children, there is even a special category for those fishing with a bow & arrow. All fish must be weighed in at 12:00 p.m. and can be caught at Onota Lake from a boat or the shore. * SCALE WILL BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY AFTER 12:00 Pm. * Fishing tackle is given with the trophy prizes & 2 prizes for heaviest trout. A sportsman award is given out to a child which includes a tackle box with over $100 of tackle. Fee is $10 Adults $5 for Children 14 years old and younger. Fee includes Food & Beverages. All children receive a free gift and a children 5-14 years old a chance at winning a Mountain Bike boys girls. The carp shoot is part of the Fishing derby because that was something that Harry enjoyed. Food and beverages are provided to all entrants. Hamburg’s hotdogs, coffee, doughnuts, soda. No alcohol is served at this event. Advanced tickets may be purchased at Avid Sports, Dave’s Sporting Goods, Maces Marine & Onota Boat Livery. Everyone still needs to register before all fish can be weighed in

Trout stockings

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week:  Westfield River in Chester, Chesterfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Russell, and Worthington; Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, Hop Brook in Tyringham and Lee, Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe, Sackett Brook in Dalton and Pittsfield, Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Hudson Brook in Clarksburg, Kinderhook Creek in Hancock, Bennett Brook in Hinsdale, Yokun Brook in Lenox, Dunbar Brook in Monroe, Trout Brook in Peru, Windsor and Westfield Brooks in Windsor, Norwich Pond and Littleville Lake in Huntington, Goose Pond, Windsor Lake in North Adams, Big Pond in Otis, Onota Lake, Pelham Lake in Rowe, and Stockbridge Bowl.

 

Pistol shooting

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will stage a steel fun match at the club on Thursday, May 5, starting at 5:30 pm.  Rim fire and center fire pistols only, 9mm to .45. No Magnums. Steel is 5 consecutive rounds, so it works best if you have 5 magazines that you can change one right after another.  But if you don’t, they can accommodate by having a person reload.  Match cost is $7.

 

Also at the Lee club, the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is having a mandatory orientation for new shooters on May 7 at 10am prior to its scheduled match.  The match cost is $15, with sign-up by 12pm.  There will be a safety briefing at 12:45pm.  First shot at 1pm.  Cold Range Rules apply, six stages, bring 150 rounds.  There will be a classifier after the Match for an additional cost of $15.00.   For more information on both of the above events, contact Shawn Sullivan at ssullee@icloud.com.

Ducks Unlimited Banquet

The Berkshire Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be having its annual banquet at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club on Saturday, May 14 from 5 to 9 PM.  There will be general raffle prizes, a silent and live auction.   Proceeds will be used to support wetlands conservation.   Tickets cost $40 and can be obtained from Joe Delsoldato at 413-717-0983 or from JP Murphy at 413-822-3915 or from Dave’s Sporting Goods in Pittsfield.

 

Massachusetts spring trout stocking has begun

Due to the mild winter and apparent early spring, Mass DFW has already begun trout stocking. According to DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden, they stock 25 lakes and ponds and 54 rivers and streams throughout all regions of the District.   Madden cautions that stocked waters are subject to change based on water body conditions, staffing, and stocking trucks functioning.

On Friday, March 7, they stocked Onota Lake in Pittsfield and Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge. The following waters were scheduled to be stocked last week:   Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Laurel Lake in Lee, Lake Garfield and Lake Buel in Monterey, West Branch of the Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield, Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield and Richmond Pond in Richmond.

As in past years, I hope to get the trout stocking information to you as soon as possible. Many thanks to Andrew Madden and receptionist Deb Lipa for taking on the extra work of getting that information to me in time to include it in this column. The stocking schedule is also updated on the MassWildlife web page every Friday by noon.

Here’s a little tidbit of information that I picked up from the MassWildlife Facebook page. The question was asked if there is any success of naturally spawning trout from stocking, or does the current infrastructure require annual stocking. The answer received from MassWildlife was, “Our stocking program is meant to provide trout fishing opportunities for anglers–we’re not trying to get trout to reproduce.” *****

The Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program is a partnership program between MassWildlife, participating sportsmen’s clubs, and the Massachusetts State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The Young Adult Turkey Hunt Day this year will be April 23.

Hunter safety is emphasized in all aspects of the program to help build the confidence of young hunters so they may feel comfortable hunting alone or with others in the field. This program is more than just a day in the field hunting turkey; it is a comprehensive recreational program that includes two parts: a pre-hunt workshop and a one-day mentored hunt.

Western District participating clubs are: East Mountain Sportsmen Club, Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, Lee Sportsmen’s Club, Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club and Worthington Rod and Gun Club. *****

Only 11 coyotes were entered into Dave’s Sporting Goods Coyote Contest this year, and the winners were as follows:  Once again, Carl Dolle of North Adams bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 7.   Dave Willette of Williamstown got the heaviest one which weighed 47.6 lbs., and   Samantha Trybus of Lanesborough won the random raffle.

 

You may be familiar with all of these names.  Last year, Dolle bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 22.  He also got the largest one last year weighing 46.8 lbs.  He bagged the largest coyote in the prior year, one weighing 50 lbs.  In the 2013 contest, Carl got the most coyotes with a tally of 24, and in 2012, he bagged the most coyotes with a tally of 16.    Willette, the author of the book “Coyote Wars”, has also bagged some 40+ lb coyotes in the past.  Trybus was featured in this column on March 23, 2014.   You may remember her picture kneeling next to three coyotes that she bagged.

 

Dave “DJ” Benham, proprietor of Dave’s Sporting Goods, commented that coyotes don’t get much bigger that what Dolle has been bagging.  On average, he said, they have been running between 30 and 37 lbs.   Out of about 1,000 coyotes that have been checked in at his store over the years, only two weighed 50 lbs or more.*****

The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be conducting a NRA basic pistol course on March 26 from 5:30 to 9: 30pm.  This is the new blended learning course.  Sign up at the NRA at www.nraonlinetraining.org, NRA Basic Pistol Shooting.  The NRA charges a fee.  In this course participants will learn the attitude, skills and knowledge necessary to become a responsible gun owner in your home, on your time line.  The cost is $100.00 and LSA members get a discount.

 

Once you complete the online learning, sign up through the NRA website for its course on the range with instructors.  The course includes handling, range live and dry firing, cleaning, opportunities to shoot in different venues, and the current MA gun laws.  Upon successful completion, participants will receive a MA State Police Certificate for application for a License  To Carry. New candidates get a year membership included.   Call Vicki 413-770-9007 or lady45white@gmail.com for more information.  *****

 

So you have your FID card.  Do you want to learn how to shoot a shotgun?  The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be running a one day course entitled Shotgun 101 for beginners on April 10 from 10am to 2:30 pm.  It will take you from the classroom learning about various types of shotguns, operation and components, to live shooting on their field in trap and skeet.   Limited spots are open.  The cost is $35 for LSA members and $45 for non-members.  Shotgun instructors will be Ken Pixley and John Ballard.  To register, call 413-770-9007. *****

MassWildlife caution us that black bears are starting to emerge from their winter dens. If you live in an area with bears, it’s time to take bird feeders down. Eliminating food is the first step in preventing conflicts with bears and other wildlife. Please remember the old saying which goes “A fed bear is a dead bear.”  Nothing good can come from a situation where a bear loses its fear of humans and seeks food in our neighborhoods.  To learn how to prevent conflicts with bears, click onto the MassWildlife web page.