LENOX

On Thursday, Jan. 9 at 3:30 p.m., John and Linda Morse of the Beachwood area of Stockbridge heard a thumping on the side of their cottage.

Investigating through the large picture window, they observed not one, two or three, but four young bears attacking their bird feeder, which hung on the eave, and a suet feeder, which hung on a shepherds-hook pole in their yard. When John and Linda made loud noises, the bears "high-tailed it through the woods with feeders in mouths."

John believes they were yearlings and found it very strange they would be out of hibernation given the very cold temperatures being experienced this winter (it was 18 degrees that day). Rattlesnake Mountain is home to many Stockbridge bear sightings, and he suspects these four wandered in from there, obviously quite hungry.

The food must have been tasty, because they returned for another helping last Sunday. This time, the Morses saw them coming and removed their new bird feeder. They then called the police. The bears made a hasty getaway when the cops arrived, probably heading back to their secret den. Talk about a den of thieves!

With this on-again, off-again winter, they probably just can't get a good winter's sleep and decided to get up and grab a mid-winter snack. Perhaps we all should bring in our bird feeders at night until Mother Nature decides where she is headed with this winter.

Incidentally, according to the January issue of the MassWildlife News, 147 black bears were harvested during the 2013 September and November bear hunting seasons. Licensed hunters in Western and Central Mass. took 120 of them in the early season, and 27 in the late season. Successful hunters took advantage of the online harvest reporting system which was available for the first time during the 2013 season. They checked 102 bears using the online system; 45 bears were checked in person at check stations.

Statewide bear harvests for the last five years, beginning with the year 2009, were as follows: 169, 144, 131, 185 and 147. Western District stations for the same period reported: 61, 57, 45, 47 and 57.

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The Harrison Brothers, trout fishing guides, will be the guest speakers at this Thursday's Taconic Chapter Trout Unlimited meeting, which will be held at the Bass Water Grill on Route 8 in Cheshire. They had great experiences guiding in other parts of the world, but their loyalty remains here in Western Mass., where they have guided year-round since 2007.

They grew up fishing rivers around the area, and will share slides and stories about fishing the Deerfield and other rivers of Western Mass. The event is free and open to the public. Social hour starts at 5 p.m., the presentation at 6 p.m. and dinner off of the menu (if you so choose) to follow at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Ron Wojcik at (413) 684-4141 or rwojcik@bcn.net.

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According to Berkshire Beagle Club spokesman John Demary, the rabbit hunt last Saturday was an overall success considering the rainy conditions. There were no hares taken, so they awarded prizes for the two largest cottontails. The winners were Paul Viale of Lee, with one weighing 3.04 pounds; and Tim Cahoon of Pittsfield' with one weighing 3 pounds. Twenty-five people attended the dinner of venison pasta, venison stew, and venison chili.

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Next Sunday, the Lee Sportsmen's Association (LSA) will be having a turkey, steak, spiral ham or pork shoot from 1-4 p.m. Following that, there will be a fundraiser dinner from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with roast moose, moose stew, and spaghetti and meatballs. The cost is $12 for adults, and $6 for those 12 and younger. The money will be used for raising pheasants which will be stocked onto local public lands next fall. Contact John Polastri at (413) 822-8278.

An NRA License-to-Carry course will be held at the LSA on Jan. 27 and 31 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. The course, with two mandatory sessions, costs $100 and preregistration is required. Successful completion qualifies one to apply for a Mass. LTC Class A or FID. Contact Larry Karlquist at (413) 442-7807.

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Congratulations to 11-year old Caleb Pollard of Lee for recently catching the above pictured 24-inch, 5-pound chain pickerel out of Laurel Lake. He was ice fishing with his family when it hit and fought like the dickens, making five runs. He caught it using a shiner and 6-pound test leader. The fish would have qualified for a State Freshwater Sportfishing Award (bronze pin) or perhaps even the gold pin, but it was not weighed on a certified scale. That's OK, though, for his dad Jeremia made a batch of tasty fish cakes using that and several other fish they caught that day.

To reach Gene Chague:
Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com,
or (413) 637-1818.