In his Oct. 1 report to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, (BCLS) DFW Western District supervisor Andrew Madden reported that the preliminary harvest figure for the September bear hunting season, which ended on Sept. 26, was approximately 233 bears.
There may be a few more bears checked in as some check-in stations had not reported their figures yet. Either way, this breaks the old September harvest record of 203.
“We have already taken more bears in 2020 than the entirety of the season in 2019 (207) and 2018 (204)”, said Madden.
This year there was the highest bear count east of the Connecticut River with 24. No doubt, the population is expanding to the east. According to Fisheries and Wildlife board member Ernest W. Foster of Scituate, no bears have been sighted in the Southeast Wildlife District yet. They’re coming Ernie, they’re coming.
Madden reported that a large bear weighing 499 pounds (not field dressed) was weighed in at the District Headquarters on opening day. It was taken in the Town of Lenox by Robert Stevens of Pittsfield. (Unfortunately, that is not the bear that has been visiting my garden).
There still are two more bear hunting seasons this year. The second season runs from Nov. 2 through Nov. 21, and the shotgun season runs from Nov. 30 through Dec. 12.
Fall trout stockingAt that BCLS meeting, Madden reported that after the serious rainfall a couple of weeks ago, the river levels came up and they did stock the East Branch of the Westfield River in Chesterfield, as well as the Deerfield River. The following lakes and ponds were scheduled to be stocked by now: Onota Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Laurel Lake, Stockbridge Bowl, Goose Pond, Richmond Pond, Lake Buel, Big Pond, Otis Reservoir, Windsor Lake, Windsor Pond, Ashfield Pond, Littleville Lake, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake and Norwich Lake.
Small game/waterfowl hunting seasonsThe woodcock hunting season opened on Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 21.
Because the woodcock is classified as a migratory game bird, but not a waterfowl, lead shot may be used. However, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration is required to hunt them, as well as ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Two special waterfowl hunt days have been added for active military and veterans.
Tomorrow morning marks the opening of duck and Canada Goose hunting season in the Berkshire Zone. Duck hunting runs through Nov. 28, closes for shotgun deer hunting season, reopens on Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 26. Goose season runs through Nov. 14. Check the regulations regarding any changes this year and daily harvests for the various ducks, geese and woodcock.
The pheasant and ruffed grouse hunting seasons open next Saturday and run through Nov. 28. According to Madden, some 40,000 birds will be stocked statewide and about 12,000 of them are scheduled to be stocked in our area. The daily limit for pheasants is two, and for grouse it is three. If hunting a Wildlife Management Area for pheasants or grouse and other small game, you must wear a hunter orange cap. The exceptions are if you are hunting waterfowl from within a blind or boat or if you are hunting raccoons or opossums at night.
Cottontail rabbit hunting season opens next Saturday in Zones 1 – 12, and runs through Feb. 27, 2021. Snowshoe hare season also opens next Saturday and runs through Feb. 27 in Zones 1-4 only. (The other zones have differing seasons). The daily limit is five cottontails and two hare.
The gray squirrel season, which opened on Sept. 14 in our zone is ongoing and ends on Jan. 2, 2021. The daily limit is five. Rabbit, hare and squirrel hunting seasons are closed during shotgun deer hunting season.
Next Saturday, the coyote hunting season opens and runs through March 8, 2021. There is no daily limit on them, but they must be checked in at an official check station or online with MassWildlife.
Remember the new regulation this year: Wanton waste is now prohibited for game taken during hunting and trapping seasons; hunting contests for furbearers and predators is now prohibited and coyote and fox must now be reported within 48 hours of harvest.
It is important that hunters check the Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide for a listing of all of the hunting regulations and remember that hunting on Sundays is prohibited.
Housatonic River WalkYou are invited to enjoy a virtual tour of the Housatonic River Walk with Russ Cohen, author of “Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten.” Russ will focus on native plants with ecological value to birds and pollinators, that people can nibble on too. Russ has been eating wild plants for a long time and he is still around. So, he must know what he is talking about. The sections are as follows.
Part 1: Hazelnut, Linden Tree (Basswood) and Common Elderberry.
Part 2: Spice Bush, Flowering Raspberry & Ostrich Fern.
Part 3: Staghorn Sumac, Black Birch, Chokecherry & Hawthorn trees.
Part 4: Knotweed & Dame’s Rocket – Invasive Plants That People Can Nibble On.
Part 5: Hackberry, Wild Mint, Black Walnut, Butternut & Pineapple Weed.
This was a project Meredyth Babcock of the Wild and Scenic Westfield River did with the Housatonic River Walk collaboration. All five, 10-20 minute segments can be viewed on the website GBRiverWalk.org and also on WestfieldRiverWildScenic.org. The virtual tour is hosted by the Housatonic River Walk, a project of the Great Barrington Land Conservancy. It is sponsored by Wild and Scenic Westfield River, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and the Great Barrington Land Conservancy. It is funded in part by Housatonic Heritage.
Incidentally, if Meredyth Babcock’s name sounds familiar, she was scheduled to receive the 2019 BCLS Lifetime Achievement Award last spring for all of the work that she has done on the Westfield River. Unfortunately, Covid-19 prevented the League from having the banquet and her award and other awards will be presented hopefully next spring. That’s assuming everyone practices social distancing, wears masks, frequently washes their hands and stays away from crowds.
License-to-Carry CourseThe Lenox Sportsmen’s Club will be hosting an LTC and UTAH Firearm Certificate Course next Sunday, Oct. 17 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the clubhouse. This course is Mass State Police Compliant. The cost for Massachusetts certification is $80, other states cost $125 and a combination of any two states cost $150. Space is limited due to Covid-19 guidelines, so you must pre-register. Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or email@example.com for more information or to pre-register.
Watch out for mooseMassWildlife urges drivers to use caution because it’s mating season for moose. During September and October, moose become more active and cross roads more frequently. Moose eyes rarely shine because their eyes are above headlight level and their dark color makes them very difficult to spot at night. Don’t just look for them in remote areas. In the Oct. 6 issue of The Berkshire Eagle, under the heading “Moose spotted trotting along Elm Street,” it was reported that Pittsfield Police received two reports about a moose in a neighborhood, including one from a resident who said the animal had made its way into a backyard.
CorrectionIn last week’s column, I mentioned that Bob Gale of Cheshire caught a 33-pound, 14-ounce King Salmon out of Lake Ontario while fishing out of the Trout One Charters (captained by Jim Carpenter of Adams). I goofed. I assumed that Jim Carpenter still owned that charter. You know what happens when you assume anything. Seven years ago, after mating for Jim for 19 years, Bryan Kopala of Windsor bought the business. It operates out of Mexico Point, N.Y. After mentioning the fish and lucky angler in two columns now, I thought you would like to see them. The male salmon was 42 inches long and had a girth of 26-and-a-half inches. Northeast Taxidermy of Middleton, Conn. will be doing a replica of it.