By now, most deer hunters know if they won an antlerless deer permit and more than a few of them are disappointed that they didn’t get one. Such permits have been dropping steadily over the last few years.
For example, approximately 9,550 permits were issued in the Western District in 2004. There were 4,400 in 2008; this year, the figure stands at 2,325. Some hunters who rely on venison as a supplement to their food diet are quite upset saying: Great, more deer meat for the coyotes and bears and less for human consumption.
"Deer densities in the western zones are currently below or on the lower end of our goals," said David Satinbrook, MassWildlife’s director of the Deer and Moose Project. "Female deer are the reproductive segment of the population, so we manage deer numbers through regulated female harvest using antlerless deer permits. We have been giving out a low number of antlerless permits in those zones to allow the deer population to rise. Trends have been on the rise over recent years, but appeared to be just very slowly increasing, so we dropped permits conservatively to make sure the trends in density are still going in the right direction toward our goals."
I suggested that they could get the deer populations up where they should be quicker by extending the coyote hunting season and allowing the bear hunters to take more than one bear a season. I am no expert, but I believe these predators are the main reason for the sharp drop in our deer population, and not hunting pressure.
Satinbrook disagrees. While these predators do take a lot of fawns in the summer months, he feels that the deer herd is in good shape and the harvest figures do not indicate that it is in serious trouble by predation. He feels that the main limiting factor is the habitat and not the predators. Nature does not allow for more animals than the land can support.
Valid point, and he certainly knows more about this subject than I.
The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is hosting a Western Massachusetts Deer Camp on Saturday, Sept. 21 at its club on Route 102, Stockbridge. Doors open at 5 p.m., with a buffet dinner at 6:30 p.m.
There will be some awesome hunting, fishing and vacation packages in the raffle. They claim that 1 in 10 people will win a firearm. Tickets cost from $40 for an individual up to $250 for sponsors. The ticket deadline is Sept. 13, but if you purchase before Sept. 1, you are entered for an early bird drawing. For information, contact Bill Bailey at (413) 244-2304.
Twelve Massachusetts sportsmen’s clubs were recognized by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation at the July meeting of the Mass. Fish and Wildlife Board. They were cited for their efforts in running the Youth Turkey Hunt program, teaching them how to safely hunt turkeys, getting youth mentors and actually taking the kids out on the hunts. They each received plaques from the NWTF and hearty thanks from the Board.
Four of the clubs are in Berkshire County: Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, Lee Sportsmen’s Association, East Mountain Sportsmen’s Club and Cheshire Rod and Gun Club. The Board also received a plaque of appreciation from the NWTF for its support of the Youth Turkey Hunt Program since it began 5 years ago.
To reach Gene Chague:
or (413) 637-1818.