Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Black bear, early goose hunting seasons open Tuesday

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On Tuesday morning the first of three black bear hunting seasons begins.

Hunters are reminded that last year there were some changes to the bear hunting seasons. The first season runs from Tuesday, Sept. 6 through Saturday, Sept. 24. The second season runs from Monday, Nov. 7 through Saturday, Nov. 26 and the third season takes place during shotgun deer hunting season, Nov. 28 through Dec. 10.

The regulations are complicated when it comes to determining which hunting implement is legal in which season, so I have included information from a grid below, which was furnished by MassWildlife and may be of some help.

During first season, a rifle**, handgun, muzzleloader** or archery may be used. During second season, a rifle**, muzzleloader** or archery may be used. And during shotgun season, a muzzleloader**, archery or shotgun may be used. Note: **Except on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail season.

Hunters are still advised to review page 33 of the 2016 Fish & Wildlife Guide to find out how and when to report the harvest and other important information. A permit is required to hunt black bears.

Also on Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Early Canada Goose hunting season opens statewide and runs through Friday, Sept. 23. The bag limit is seven and possession limit is 21. The hunting hours are from half hour before sunrise to sunset (except on WMAs stocked with pheasant or quail during the pheasant or quail seasons when hunting hours begin at sunrise and end at sunset).

They may be hunted with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge. Shotguns capable of holding more than three shells may not be used unless plugged with a one-piece filler.

Each waterfowl hunter 16 years or older must carry on his person a valid Federal waterfowl stamp and each hunter 15 years or older must purchase a Massachusetts waterfowl stamp. Stamps are required for hunting ducks and geese but not for hunting woodcock. Non-toxic shot is required for all waterfowl hunting; no lead shot can be in your possession.

Migratory game bird hunters must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year. If you have not completed the HIP survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey.

This year the Youth Waterfowl Hunt for youths aged 12 to15 takes place on Saturdays, Sept. 24 and October 8. Check the 2016-2017 Migratory Game Bird Regulations for all of the regulations dealing with the youth hunt.

STEAK & LOBSTER DINNER DANCE

The Lenox Sportsmen's Club will be having a steak and lobster dinner dance on Saturday, Sept. 17 at its clubhouse off of New Lenox Road, Lenox. Dinner will be at 6 p.m., followed by dancing to music provided by DJ Russ Davi. B.Y.O.B. The ticket cost is $25 per person and can be ordered by e-mailing the club at info@lenoxsportsmensclub.com.

The club's turkey shoots are scheduled to start Sunday, Sept. 18 and will run every week until Sunday, Nov. 18.

KIDS FISHING DERBY

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation is holding a free kids fishing derby at the lower pond in Hartsville next Saturday, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

HOMER OUELLETTE

Recently, Homer Ouellette of Pittsfield passed beyond the river bend at age 90. He was an ardent fly fisherman, perch fisherman and deer hunter. I should mention from the start that the comments about Homer also apply to his older brother Paul Ouellette of Lanesborough, who still fishes with us. They were inseparable and when you saw one in an outdoor event, you saw the other.

Homer was a charter member of the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited who eventually became its president and a director. He was an early recipient of Taconic TU's highest award, the Crooked Staff Award. He was a volunteer in the Atlantic Salmon restoration program, stocking salmon fry in the Westfield River.

He helped establish the Friends of the Williams River group by conducting river surveys. He was an excellent fly tyer and fisherman and helped teach it at Berkshire Community College in the 1970s and 80s. In fact, that is where I first met him. He was such a cool and knowledgeable fly tyer/fisherman that I immediately joined TU because of him. I wanted to be just like him.

What wonderful memories of him flyfishing the Westfield River at Indian Hollow and those times when we flyfishermen sat around the evening campfire after a day of fishing. We listened to the soft music, which emanated from his harmonica, and enjoyed his flyfishing and deer hunting stories. It was from him that I first heard the term "fishing beyond the river bend," when a fly fisherman passed away.

He was also a member of the tongue-in-cheek organization known as Perch Unlimited or "PU!" While staying at their cottage in Vermont (the Owl's Nest), Homer and Paul would often ice fish for perch on Lake Champlain and caught many of them. Homer did his share of deer hunting out of that camp, also (you may recall a couple of articles that I wrote about that camp last fall).

He was an excellent bowhunter and for many years taught the bowhunting course for the Mass DFW. He, along with his brother Paul, received the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award.

To quote the citation, "They have devoted countless hours to stream improvement, salmon fry stocking and bowhunting safety instruction courses. They have been instrumental in instructing thousands of archers in dozens of courses they have hosted as Bowhunting Education Instructors. Every sportsman can think of one or two people who helped spark their passion for the outdoors. Homer and Paul Ouellette have touched many sportsmen's lives."

Homer Ouellette will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone/fax: (413) 637-1818.


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