Gene Chague: Wild turkey hunting opportunities expanded

Sunday October 28, 2012


Effective October 12, several new hunting regulations have been promulgated which expand wild turkey hunting opportunities across the state.

They are as follows: Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ) 10, 11 and 12, which encompasses eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, opened for the fall wild turkey hunting season. Previously, the fall wild turkey hunting season was open in only WMZs 1 - 9 and 13, Central and Western Mass. and Martha's Vineyard.

It has been lengthened from a one-week to a two-week season. Fall wild turkey season will begin on the second-to-last Monday in October and will continue for two weeks. This year's fall hunting season dates are Oct. 22 to Nov. 3.

Permissible shot sizes for wild turkey have been expanded to include No. 7 shot. Formerly, shot sizes were limited to No. 4 - No. 6 for wild turkey hunting. Turkey hunting is only allowed with shotguns no larger than 10 gauge or with bows 40 pounds or greater.

MassWildlife reports that thanks to successful restoration efforts and other conservation partners such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Massachusetts has a healthy and robust wild turkey population, allowing for the expansion of the fall hunting season. Recent technological development of turkey hunting-specific shotshells using denser-than-lead shot alloys (typically tungsten and bismuth) has improved the ballistics of smaller shot size, ensuring an effective turkey harvest.

The fall hunting hours are different than those of the spring turkey hunting season. The hours are 1 2 hour before sunrise to 1 2 hour after sunset except as noted in Wildlife Management Area Regulation No. 10. If you shot a bearded bird in the spring season, you are allowed a bird of either sex in the fall season. No hunter may take two birds in the fall season. Birds must be tagged immediately and you must check/report the bird within 48 hours.


Chronic Wasting Disease (CRD) a contagious neurological disease fatal to deer, moose, elk, and other members of the cervid (deer) family continues to spread. It was recently discovered in a deer in Pennsylvania. With that recent discovery, MassWildlife is reminding hunters of the ban on importing intact deer carcasses from CWD-positive jurisdictions such as Pennsylvania and New York, into Massachusetts.

To prevent the possibility of this disease entering Massachusetts, regulations were adopted several years back making it illegal for anyone to import, process or possess whole carcasses or parts of these animals (from the wild or from captive herds) from states and Canadian provinces where CWD has been found. The only exceptions to the regulations are meat that is deboned, cleaned skull caps, hides without the head, or a finished taxidermy mount. Also, it is illegal to import live deer of any species into Massachusetts for any purpose. This ban includes animals used in deer farming practices and those used seasonally for petting zoos or holiday displays.

CWD attacks the brains of infected animals, resulting in their becoming emaciated, exhibiting abnormal behavior, and eventually dying.

A CWD monitoring and testing program for wild cervids has been conducted in Massachusetts since 2002. Currently, MassWildlife is only testing deer or moose displaying symptoms of disease. So far CWD has not been found in Massachusetts deer or moose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans. Hunters have been taking and eating meat from these animals from the infected areas of Colorado and Wyoming for more than 30 years.

For more information about CWD, visit


The Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club is once again looking for donations of cleaned venison hearts and livers for its annual Heart and Liver dinners. They are looking for other donations of venison for its regular game dinners, too. If you have some which you are willing to part with, you can contact the following PSC directors: Ed Bushey at 443-9371, Dave Pemble at 443-0646 and Rick Farrell at 442-7105.


Last fall a bow hunter contacted me and said that he had been hunting since he was a youngster (50+ years) and never once did he think he had the right to use another hunter's stand. Worse yet, he never thought he should steal another hunter's stand.

That season -- and it wasn't the first time -- someone stole his ladder stand from private property, within sight of the house. He felt the theft was done by another hunter since there was no easy access to the property and no reason for anyone to even be there. The property on which he was hunting is posted but he had permission to hunt there. He questioned what can possibly go through a person's mind to think that such behavior is acceptable. He wondered how common this is and wanted me to write an article about ethics. What can I write? If someone is old enough to bow hunt, he is old enough to know better than to take someone else's stand. It is unethical. Unfortunately, such occurrences happen far too often.


Next Saturday, at noon at the Lee Sportsmen's Association, the Berkshire International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and Connecticut Steel Shooters have partnered to produce the Berkshire Production Championship (centerfire steel championship match). This is a centerfire production class steel match featuring four steel challenge stages and two stages of knockdown steel. This is a trophy match, and first through third will receive championship cup trophies. In addition the overall champion will receive 500 rounds of Remington 9mm. Signup begins at 11:30 a.m. The match fee is $20 and they are limited to 30 shooters. For more information or to reserve your spot email Jason Linn at

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


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