The season started with a nice blanket of snow which made it much easier to locate and track the deer. Local hunters took advantage of the snow and recorded nearly 500 deer after the first week of hunting.
Some 119 deer have been registered at DFW Western District Headquarters in Dalton, 45 at B & D Variety in Huntington, 121 at Ernie’s Auto Sales in North Adams, 60 at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association, 122 at the Mill River General Store and 32 At Papa’s Healthy Food in Otis.
Michael Winters of Cheshire had a 6 point buck at Egremont who weighed 201 pounds. DFW technician Eli Pease said he has 4 points on the left side of the head and 2 on the right. He said he was an old male, maybe 6 ½ to 7 years old. Steve Ray of Pittsfield had a beautiful 189lb cock and 9 points in Pittsfield. Dan Kruszyna of Cheshire had an 8 point, 190 pound colt in Cheshire.
The start of the second week of hunting deer hunting started in the rain. During this week, hunters are not required to physically check their deer at a checkpoint, but have the option of registering them online through MassFishHunt. Therefore, unless hunters choose to physically register locally, I have no way of finding out, not until the numbers are released by MassWildlife in Westborough.
As of Saturday, District Supervisor Andrew Madden estimated the deer count to be on par with other past years. Last year, nearly 1,000 deer were slaughtered during the two-week shotgun season for Zones 1 to 4.
Bear hunting statistics
The last of three bear hunting seasons also ends today. Bear hunters were not required to physically register their bears at checkpoints, but could do so online. Some lucky hunters chose to physically register them and last Saturday five bears were registered, three of them registered at the general store in Mill River and two at Papa’s in Otis. Nate Buckhout, a biologist for the Western District of DFW, weighed one in Mill River that tipped the scales at 400 pounds.
We’ll have to wait for the final bear harvest figures to be released by MassWildlife.
Primitive firearms deer hunting season opens Monday
Hunters who haven’t collected their deer during archery or shotgun seasons have one more chance to log in. Starting this Monday, the primitive firearms deer hunting season (a / k / a black powder or muzzleloader) begins and continues through December 31. Deer can only be caught with a muzzle-loading firearm or with a bow and arrow. A stamp is required to hunt this season.
We hope you have an enjoyable, successful and safe muzzleloader hunt. Let people know where you are hunting, be careful, stay hydrated, and keep your powder dry.
Other hunting seasons still open
The rabbit, hare, squirrel, coyote and fox hunting seasons resume this Monday. In our areas, duck hunting resumed on December 6 and continues until December 25.
2022 Laws on freshwater fishing, hunting and trapping in Mass.
Commonly called “the summaries”, they are released and available in the usual places. The booklet has a cover photo of a big old gobbler.
New for 2022:
• License / stamp / permit fee increases. I have covered the issue of the fee increase often over the past year and we encourage you to check the details on page 8 of these summaries.
• New pheasant / quail license. A permit is now required for anyone 15 years of age or older who hunts, takes or owns pheasants or bobwhite quail, unless they were harvested in an authorized commercial game reserve. (Page 6 of the summaries).
• Seasonal bag limits for pheasant and quail have been removed. Daily and bag possession limits have not changed (page 34 of summaries).
• Pheasant hunting will now be permitted statewide.
• Controlled hunts have been eliminated in the Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area in Newbury.
Be sure to read DFW Director Mark S. Tisa’s comments on the future of conservation. Maybe in the future I can print his comments verbatim in this column.
The 2022 hunting, fishing and sport permits, permits and stamps are now available. Most of these can be purchased online at mass.gov/massfishhunt with a computer, tablet, or smartphone. To purchase them in person, use mass.gov/fishhuntlicensemap to find a licensing provider near you. Of course, you can still purchase them at our DFW District Headquarters in Dalton.
MassWildlife advises you to use caution when purchasing them in December, as the 2020 and 2021 products are available.
Water chestnut uprooting campaign
At the November MA F&W Board of Directors meeting, West District Fisheries Biologist Leanda Fontaine Gagnon gave an excellent presentation on last summer’s efforts to control water chestnuts. in the Three Mile Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Sheffield. The WMA has over 1,000 acres and the pond is within its limits. This is a large improved and enlarged 155 acre pond with a maximum depth of approximately 10 to 15 feet. It is nutrient rich with a floating island with possibly endangered species.
The water chestnut, an invasive plant native to Asia and parts of Europe, was introduced to North America in the late 1800s and has spread to several states and Canada.
Because its floating rosettes can grow up to 2 feet in diameter, they can provide shade to native plants. Its 12- to 15-foot root system takes root in shallow, nutrient-rich lakes with muddy bottoms. Each plant produces a round, pointed fruit. When they fall and float, they are spread by unsuspecting boaters and waterfowl. And they spread from body of water to body of water. Although it is an annual plant, they are easily spread because of this fruit. Each fruit is viable for up to 12 years. Requiring a long-term management project, it can be controlled if it is detected early.
It was first discovered at Three Mile Pond in 2011. Brief removal efforts took place in 2013, but on a further visit to the site in 2017, it was noticed that it had proliferated in another pond area. Extremely dense cover and large patches were observed in the Northwest Cove as well as in the North Cove near an arm of the creek.
District staff started hand pulling in late August and early September 2017 and a more intensive effort was launched in 2018 and continued each year.
They learned that it was too late to arrive at the end of the summer. Most of the plants already had ripe fruit and began to drop and move around the body of water. Green fruits are viable, black ones usually do not germinate. They began plucking the plant in the first week of July, when the majority of the fruit had already emerged but the fruit was not ripe enough to start falling.
They were reluctant to make drawdowns at Three Mile Pond due to the floating island and the endangered species there. The seeds can stay in the mud for seven years and can be viable for up to 12 years. In addition, they can exist in deeper sediments.
Crews of kayaks paddled to infected areas, hand-pulled them and loaded them onto other boats, which brought them to the boat launch. There they were unloaded into vans, which took them to a landfill about a quarter mile (but still in the WMA) and where no hiker, animal, or water source would bring them back to the pond.
In 2017, with the help of staff from WD, Headquarters and Natural Heritage, they removed approximately 10 trucks and spent 25 cumulative hours on this removal effort. Each year on their return, they discover fewer and fewer plants from the previous year. By 2019 there had been a significant reduction and native vegetation really started to appear.
They will continue annual monitoring and elimination as they find them, knowing full well that the plants will continue until 2027. From 2028, they plan to start the biannual harvest. They hope to implement this removal effort on other MassWildlife properties such as Mill Pond / Smiley’s Pond in Egremont. This body of water is also rich in nutrients and known to have a considerable population of water chestnuts. They hope to call in volunteers to help them.