Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Spring turkey harvest totals tabulated

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MassWildlife's Wild Turkey Project Leader David Scarpitti reported that preliminary harvest figures indicate 3,054 wild turkeys were taken by licensed hunters during the 2016 spring hunting season.

According to Scarpitti, this represents the second highest spring season wild turkey harvest since turkey hunting began in the Commonwealth in 1980. The highest spring season harvest occurred in 2009 when 3,085 turkeys were harvested.

This year, 83 turkeys were reported during the one-day youth season, and 2,971 turkeys were reported during the regular four-week season. Some 346 were harvested in Berkshire County and 577 in the Western District.

Above average brood production in 2015 was likely the biggest factor influencing the near record harvest. In addition, winter conditions in 2015-2016 were quite moderate compared to the previous two winters, which likely further enhanced juvenile turkey survival and recruitment.

The 2016 fall turkey season is Oct. 24 through Nov. 5 statewide (except Nantucket) and open to all hunters possessing a valid hunting or sporting license and a wild turkey hunting permit, provided they didn't harvest their season limit of two in the spring.

More turkey hunting information and regulations are posted on the Wild Turkey Hunting page. August is the last month to participate in the Wild Turkey Brood Survey where all turkey sightings are listed, including jakes and toms. After Aug. 31, completed forms should to be mailed to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

I don't know about you, but I didn't see many birds in June, but lately they came on like gangbusters and I am seeing large broods everywhere, some with very small poults for this time of year.

ANTLERLESS DEER HUNTING PERMITS

Hunters who applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by the July 16 deadline must return to the MassFishHunt licensing system to try to win a permit. The Instant Award Period began on Aug. 1 and continues through Dec. 31. This is NOT a first-come, first-served system. Finding out if you won one is a bit complicated:

Log into the MassFishHunt system with your last name and customer ID, click the Enter Sales button, then click Accept in the Customer Electronic Signature dialog box, then choose Hunting Permits and Stamps from the main menu, then choose Add next to Antlerless Deer Permit, the zone for which you previously applied will appear on the next screen, then click Select to check whether you won a permit.

One of two messages will appear, either "Congratulations! You have been awarded an Antlerless Deer Permit and click check out to purchase it", OR "Unfortunately you did not win".

If you won, an Antlerless Deer Permit will be placed in the shopping cart, and you may proceed to check out to complete the $5 purchase. These permits will remain in your shopping cart until purchased or expired. Winners should print their permits upon completion of the transaction. All permits expire on Dec. 31.

If you don't have a computer, visit a MassWildlife office or a license agent location. Staff at these locations will help you.

FOREST TOURS

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) foresters will be leading pre-harvest forest tours of prepared timber sale areas, discussing forest management techniques, providing a view of the trees designated for harvest, and explaining how harvest operations will take place.

A detailed silviculture prescription for each harvesting operation will be provided to attendees. These tours culminate a public process that included public meetings and a written comment period on each project.

The tours will be conducted rain or shine as indicated below. Attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather and to wear sturdy shoes.

For additional information about the tours and DCR forest management on State Forests, Parks, and Reservations, please contact William Hill, Management Forestry Program Supervisor, at 413-545- 3891.

Two tours are scheduled for the Berkshires as follows:

—Pittsfield State Forest, Aug. 16 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. DCR Forester Kevin Podkowka will lead a tour of the 97-acre planned timber sale in a northern hardwood forest. Meet at the

parking area in front of the gate, one mile south of Rt. 43 on Potter Mountain Road.

Potter Mountain Road is accessed by taking Rt. 20 west past Hancock Shaker Village to Lebanon Springs, N.Y. From Rt. 20 in Lebanon Springs, turn right and take Rt. 22 north to Stephentown, N.Y. From Rt. 22 in Stephentown, turn right and take Rt. 43 east for approximately 2.8 miles and Potter Mountain Road will be on the right. Follow Potter Mountain Road for approximately one mile south and the parking area will be on the left.

—Sandisfield State Forest, Aug. 17 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. DCR Forester Jeff Martin will lead a tour of the 75-acre planned timber sale in a northern red oak forest type. Meet at the York Lake Day Use Area, from where tour attendees will carpool to the site. The Day Use Area is .3 miles east from the intersection of Route 183, New Marlborough-Sandisfield Road and East Hill Road in New Marlborough.

The tour of the timber sale will require an approximate 20-minute non strenuous walk to reach the project area.

BASIC HUNTING COURSE

All first-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course. A course will be taught at the Becket Town Hall, at 557 Main Street, on Sept. 12 and 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sept. 17 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Attendance is required at all classes.

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


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