The 2015 deer hunting seasons ended last Thursday. As of this writing, MassWildlife has not released any preliminary harvest figures for the archery, shotgun or muzzleloader seasons. With the lack of snow for tracking, one would expect the harvest numbers to be down, but we'll just have to wait until MassWildlife releases them.
I do know of some nice deer being taken this year. Jack Canale of Clarksburg took a nice buck (pictured) in Florida, MA while bow hunting on Veterans Day during a light drizzle. It was a 10-pointer with a beautiful rack and dressed out at 179 pounds. Rick LaBlue, of Adams, a taxidermist and authorized scorer for Pope & Young National Club, measured the antlers and arrived at a total "green" score of 158 and 3/8.
Jack said that he has hunted all over: Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, etc trying to get a deer like that. How ironic is it that he bagged it in a nearby Berkshire town.
He plans to have it mounted by Rick LaBlue Taxidermy.
It was a memorable year for young Colby Curtin of Tyringham, too. Colby, who is 14 years old, was hunting with his dad Michael on the last day of shotgun season, Saturday, Dec. 12, with his shotgun. He had a chance at a very large buck but missed. On Friday, Dec. 18, during muzzleloader season, he got another chance, this time with his .50 caliber musket at 78 yards. He dropped his first deer and according to his dad, he made a perfect shot. It was a nice 5-point buck weighing 108 pounds.
Incidentally, Michael got his first deer at 12 years old while hunting with his dad, John. It is wonderful to see this family tradition being kept alive from generation to generation.
The following hunting seasons remain open: cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare, which end on Feb. 28; bobcat and coyote, which end on March 8; fox, which ends on Feb. 29; raccoon and opossum, which end on Jan. 30.
This year marks a couple of important anniversaries. One was the establishment of the Department of Fish & Wildlife some 150 years ago (In case you are wondering, Fish & Game Board Chairman George (Gige) Darey of Lenox was not in attendance). He has only been on the Board for 38 years, but also its chairman for 33 years. Another big anniversary will be celebrated by the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery, which was established 100 years ago. There will be more to come on both of these organizations in the upcoming months.
It was with profound sadness that sportsmen learned that Chris Porter, of Pittsfield, passed away while deer hunting in New Lebanon, New York. Chris was a long-time officer and esteemed member of the Onota Fishing Club and the Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club. He was instrumental in arranging and cooking for the youth fishing derbies at Wild Acres, for the Club's annual Crappie Derbies on Onota Lake and for the Club's game dinners. In fact, the last two times that I saw and spoke with him, he was cooking food for the Wild Acres Derby in May and the Club's Game Dinner recently held at the ITAM (both events were covered in this column). Proceeds from those game dinners benefitted Soldier On, Eagle Santa Toy Fund and other worthwhile causes.
Without doubt, Chris indirectly touched and positively influenced hundreds of kids and sportsmen here in the Berkshires. Our sincerest sympathies go out to his wife Paula and family and to his many close friends at the Onota Fishing Club. He will be sorely missed.
Even though he passed at a young age (54), virtually every sportsmen that I spoke with mentioned that Chris died doing what he loved - hunting. We should be so lucky when our time comes.
The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club (CR&G) has announced its holiday Truckload of Goodies raffle winners. They are: Truckload Winner — Joann and Dave Volin of Washington, 2nd prize — Teresa Becker of Hinsdale, 3rd prize — Justin Horn of Adams, 4th prize — Paul Vallieres of Adams and 5th prize — Lisa Houghtling of Pittsfield. Now that's the way to start off the new year.
The CR&G's 2016 Archery League will begin for Adults on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.. The Youths begin next Saturday, Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. Both run for 12 weeks. Call Dick Senecal at 413-663-8932.