The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) reported that the statewide preliminary deer harvest for 2015 (excluding special hunts and any data not yet received) was 10,042.
The harvest figures for the previous four years, beginning with year 2011, were as follows: 11,081, 10,938, 11,413 and 11,165.
In the Western District (WD), which includes all areas west of the Connecticut River (Zones 1–4), some 1,887 were taken. For the previous four years, beginning with year 2011, the figures were 3,417, 1,626, 1,664 and 1,737. Zones 10 and 11 in Eastern Massachusetts yielded 4,061 deer in 2015.
The statewide preliminary archery season harvest was 4,188. Harvest figures for the previous four years, beginning with year 2011, were as follows: 3,765, 3903, 4,474 and 4,456.
In the WD, 511 were taken with the bow in 2015. The WD archery harvests for the previous four years, beginning with year 2011, were as follows: 522, 453, 577 and 505. Zones 10 and 11 yielded 2,108 in 2015.
The statewide preliminary shotgun season harvest was 4,123. For the previous four years, beginning with year 2011, the harvests were as follows: 5,349, 4,950, 4,625 and 4,742.
The WD shotgunners checked in 898 in 2015, which compares with the previous four years: 904, 842, 739 and 888. Zones 10 and 11 yielded 1,324 in 2015. Note: 784 more deer were taken with the bow out there than with shotgun.
The statewide preliminary primitive season harvest was 1,599. The previous four years, beginning with year 2011, were: 1,959, 1,958, 2,314 and 1967. In the WD, muzzleloaders checked in 320 in 2015, which compares with the previous four years as follows: 251, 301, 350 and 344. Zones 10 and 11 muzzleloaders checked in 629 deer in 2015.
The first statewide preliminary youth hunt harvest was 132. In the WD, youths checked in 58 of them.
The total harvested deer by all methods in the WD were as follows: Zone 1 — 293, Zone 2 — 462, Zone 3 — 486, Zone 4N — 436 and Zone 4S — 210.
While total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn't provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone, as well as annual changes in hunter effort data, weather, etc.
The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone.
An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be posted on the DFW website shortly after the annual deer review, so check back in May or June.
Hunters should also keep an eye on their email inbox for the annual hunter survey. All hunters who included a valid email address in their MassFishHunt profile will receive a hunter survey by email in February or March.
As you are well aware, this winter has been an unusually warm one. Maybe we will get some winter weather yet, but so far winter sports such as skiing, snow shoeing and skating have been dismal.
The same holds true with ice fishing. But, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal and some sportsmen's clubs and organizations are still planning ice fishing derbies. As of this writing, I have information on only one derby.
On Feb. 14, the Lee Sportsmen's Association will have its ice fishing derby at Goose Pond from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The awards and spaghetti and meatball dinner will take place at the LSA Clubhouse after the derby. The cost for derby and dinner is $15 for adults and $6 for kids.
There will be no Locker Room Ice Fishing Derby on Sunday, Feb. 21 due to ice conditions, but they will still have a pasta dinner and raffle prizes at the Locker Room from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Proceeds will benefit the Lee Youth Football program.
The Lenox and Cheshire sportsmen's clubs as well as the Jimmy Fund derbies have been cancelled due to ice conditions. May I suggest that if any derby is still scheduled, be sure to check with the derby organizers in advance. Also, satisfy yourself that there is sufficient ice!
Next Sunday at 1 p.m., the Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club will be holding a multi-state firearms course. It includes firearm laws covering licensing, storage, transportation, operation and safe handling of firearms, shooting fundamentals, etc.
Participants will receive a course certificate, which will allow them to apply for licenses in Massachusetts, Utah, New Hampshire and Maine. A Utah firearm permit is honored in 30 states. The fee for the entire five-hour course is $140, or one can take just the Massachusetts or Utah segments for $100. Preregistration is required. Call or e-mail Robert J. McDermott at (413)-232-7700 or robmcdermott@verizon.
On Monday, Feb. 15, the Lenox Sportsmen's Club will hold its 33rd annual Presidents Day Rabbit Hunt. Registration fee is $10 with weigh-in at 4 p.m. Prizes awarded for heaviest hare and cottontail. A venison dinner will follow, which is included in the registration fee. Pre-register with Ron Carr at 413-442-5122 or sign up at the club.