Gene Chague: Antler deer permits ready! Did you win one?


Hunters who applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by July 16 must return to the MassFishHunt licensing system to try to win a permit. The instant award period began Aug. 1 and continues through Dec. 31.

The odds of winning a permit during the instant award period are the same whether you try to win in August, September, or any time before Dec. 31. Hunters have one chance to try for an instant award permit.

There are three ways in which a hunter may participate and try to win a permit: Log into the MassFishHunt system, visit a MassWildlife office, or visit a license agent location. Staff at these locations will help you out.

If you log onto MassFishHunt, here is what you do:

- Enter your last name and customer ID.

- Click the Enter Sales button.

- Click Accept in the Customer Electronic Signature dialog box.

- Choose Hunting Permits and Stamps from the main menu.

- Choose Add next to Antlerless Deer Permit.

- The zone for which you previously applied will appear on the next screen.

- Click Select to check whether a permit has been won for that zone.

- One of two messages will appear on the screen indicating the permit win/lose status: "Congratulations! You have been awarded an Antlerless Deer Permit which has been placed in your shopping cart. Close this window and click check out to purchase it." Or the one which I usually get, "Unfortunately you did not win this product."

If you win, an Antlerless Deer Permit will be placed in the shopping cart, and you check out to complete the purchase. These permits will remain in the shopping cart until purchased or expired. Be sure to print your permit upon completion of the transaction. All permits expire on Dec. 31 of the year issued. Good luck.

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The Onota Fishing Club is sponsoring its 27th annual Crappie Derby next Sunday at Onota Lake. It will run from 6 a.m. until noon. Participants will be in two-person teams at $25 per person.

Prizes will be awarded for most crappie, most pan fish and heaviest crappie. Sign up for the derby at Portsmitt's Lakeway Restaurant where there will be an all-you-can-eat fish fry that will follow at a cost of $10 fee for non-participants. For more information, call Chris Porter at 413-496-0105.

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The Lee Sportsmen's Association will be holding an NRA Basic Pistol Course for men and women on Sunday, Aug. 24 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Aug 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Both sessions are mandatory. The cost is $100 which includes an annual LSA membership. To pre-register, call Vicki 442-8107 or send an email to

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The Berkshire Hatchery is busy these days. According to Berkshire Hatchery Foundation Board Member Steven J. Schwartz, the hatchery's primary mission is to provide lake trout as brood stock for Lakes Ontario and Erie.

The Foundation has continued with its support of two brood stock strains for the lakes and each strain has multiple age classes. Some of the trout raised at the hatchery will provide eggs this year to the USFWS lake trout restoration program. These fish will provide millions of lake trout fingerlings that will help the lakes regain their breeding trout population. The younger age classes will ensure a steady supply of eggs into the future and allow breeding between different aged fish, which will help maintain genetic diversity.

This year the hatchery and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service helped supply trout for 30 public fishing events in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut In addition to those events, the Foundation sponsors six monthly fishing derbies for children (there is one scheduled for next Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the lower pond). The hatchery is open during the summer months with the help of an intern and, on a permit basis, children can fish the lower pond.

The foundation sponsored a graduate at Dartmouth College, Marcus Welker, who is researching the homing abilities of the Atlantic salmon. His doctorate will focus on how the migration to its natal stream is affected by the composition of amino acids in our waterways.

The hatchery is continuing its efforts in the field of environmental research by providing two scholarships for local students. These students will continue with their education in the field of environmental research.

Incidentally, the Hatchery Foundation is having its annual Lobster Fest on Aug. 24 from 2-5 p.m. Tickets, which cost $65, can be purchased by contacting the hatchery at (413) 527-9761. Hope you can make it, for this is an organization that deserves our support.

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As you are well aware, we have had a very wet summer. And nowhere is it more evident than in our vegetable garden. It is so wet and muddy in places that I have to wear knee-high rubber boots. And once in the garden, I sink and slide in the mud, constantly fearful of losing my balance and falling into the quagmire. I wouldn't dare go there without using my fishing wading staff.

Think I am exaggerating? Well, last week it was so wet, I saw a great blue heron at the edge of the garden, peering through the garden fence. Apparently, with all of the water, it thought it could snag a fish or two. When it saw me, it flew just a short distance into our field and stood there watching me.

While wondering why it was hanging around it occurred to me that it was probably after the multitude of voles and baby rabbits that have invaded our property this year. The voles, in particular, have raised havoc with our garden. I hope that bird has a good appetite and sticks around for a while.

To reach Gene Chague:,
or (413) 637-1818.


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