Berkshire Woods and Waters: Shotgun deer hunting season opens Monday
This story has been updated to correct the date of the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club event to Sunday, Dec. 3.
Shotgun deer hunting season. That's the hunting season that many hunters look forward to and for which they reserve their vacation days. The season runs Monday through Dec. 9. Deer can be taken by shotgun, bow or muzzleloader. MassWildlife estimates that there are more than 100,000 deer across the state.
I know I'm repeating myself in this column, but hunters, please remember that if you harvest a deer during the first week of shotgun hunting season, you must bring it to a check station to allow biologists to collect important data needed for deer management.
New this year, deer harvested during the second week may be reported online. Reporting is required within 48 hours of harvest.
Hunters must have 500 square inches of visible blaze orange on chest, back and head, regardless of the hunting implement used. Hunter orange must not be concealed, even when using a hunting blind.
Also, there is no hunting on Sundays.
Incidentally, be advised that deer and wood ticks are very bad this year. Be sure to take the usual preventative steps.
Here's wishing you all a very enjoyable and safe shotgun deer hunting season.
The archery deer hunting season ended Saturday. It's too early for harvest totals, but we know of some pretty big bucks that were harvested during the season. For example, a 227-pound, 10-point buck (certified weight) was taken in Becket by James Underhill of Pittsfield; Josh Herlihy took a buck weighing 210 pounds in Lee; a 213-pound, 10-point buck was taken in Colrain; and a 258-pound, 10-point buck was taken in Pembroke.
If you have a permit to hunt black bear and have not harvested one yet, you also can hunt them during shotgun deer hunting season. Be sure to check the regulations governing this season as well.
Even though she is only 13 years old, Lena Ungewitter has been shooting for years. She has been shooting since she was about 4 with her dad, Erik. She shoots guns, bows and crossbows. This year, she shot a buck (pictured above) with a .50 caliber muzzleloader gun during the special Youth Hunt Day on Sept. 30 in southern Berkshire County. That buck was her second taken on Youth Hunt Day.
She took aim and shot at the big buck from about 35 yards away. It kicked and ran off. Erik looked at her, and she said, "Dad, I smoked him. Did you hear him fall? He's dead!"
He said that she was shaking badly with the biggest smile on her face. She tracked the deer and found it about 40 yards from where she shot it and was shocked at the size of him. She had trouble picking up his head up.
"He's huge!" she said.
"What an unbelievable experience!" said Erik. Reading his narrative, it is difficult to see who was the most excited and proud — Lena or him.
The deer weighed 182 pounds field-dressed and had a perfect, thick 8-point rack. (It is estimated that a 182-pound, field-dressed deer would weigh close to 230 pounds on the hoof). They weighed the deer on a butcher shop's scale.
They had about a 300-yard drag down a skidder trail to get the deer out. Thankfully, Erik keeps his jet sled in his truck at all times during hunting season for that reason. (A jet sled is a heavy-duty plastic sled used primarily for ice fishing, but it is also very useful in dragging a deer out of the woods).
Lena opted to do a European skull mount instead of a shoulder mount. Even though Erik gave her the green light on the shoulder mount, she prefers the European.
Reminder: Some Appalachian Trail Lands are Off-Limits to Hunting
The Appalachian Mountain Club Berkshire Chapter Appalachian Trail Committee, which partners with Department of Conservation and Recreation and the National Park Service for Appalachian Trail management in Massachusetts, recently issued the following statement: "Hunters are reminded that certain segments of the lands surrounding the A.T. are off-limits to hunting. While about half of the A.T. is on Massachusetts state forest lands (where normal hunting rules apply, regarding safety zones around trails and buildings), the other half of the trail is on lands owned and managed by the National Park Service, where, like other National Parks, hunting is prohibited."
These "A.T. Corridor Lands" are marked along their boundaries with yellow paint blazes on trees and "US Boundary" signs every 500 feet along the line. The trail corridor is roughly 1,000 feet wide, but might be wider in some locations (such as the Upper Goose Pond area) or narrower where the trail crosses a road. Hunters may traverse these lands (and use the A.T.) to access other properties where hunting is permitted, but may not hunt from, or take game from, trail lands.
Similarly, hunting stands and blinds are not permitted on trail lands at any time. Trail corridor lands are patrolled, and stands and blinds found in the corridor will be tagged with information, notifying the owner that the stand is illegal and must be removed within 30 days.
If the owner does not remove the stand or is found to be hunting on federal lands, fines of up to $5,000 may be levied by the Park Service. A six-month jail sentence also is possible with a conviction. Stands left more than 30 days will be considered abandoned property by the National Park Service, and will be removed and disposed of.
Tags placed on stands will explain the regulation and include a phone number, where owners can call the Park Service for more information. Hunters with questions may contact the Appalachian Trail National Park acting chief ranger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Locally, A.T. managers can be contacted at email@example.com.
Hikers might wish to refrain from using trails during shotgun season, the busiest part of deer season (Mondays through Saturdays, starting Monday through Dec. 9). It is not possible when hiking on the Appalachian Trail to determine whether one is on state or NPS land.
In some cases, land ownership can change several times in a few miles of trail. Hikers, bikers and others using local trails should wear bright colors through the end of the year, as other deer hunting seasons are in effect before and after the shotgun season.
Firearms safety courses
The Lenox Sportsmen's Club is having a license-to-carry/Utah firearms course on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is a Massachusetts State Police compliant course. The cost is $70 for LTC, $125 for Utah and $150 for both. Registration is required. Contact Tom Nadolny at 413-822-6451 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Dennis Leydet at 413-329-7081 or email@example.com.
The Cheshire Rod and Gun Club is having a live-fire National Rifle Association and Massachusetts State Police Certified Firearms Safety Course on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. You are asked to be there by 8:45 to sign in. This course is to qualify Massachusetts residents and nonresidents for the state license-to-carry, or FID, card. It will be a hands-on live firing, one-day course. A full lunch will be provided, as well as a $10 gift certificate to Pete's Gun Shop. The cost is $100 and covers all ammo, safety gear, class materials, certificates, a hardcover NRA textbook and food. Interested parties are asked to register by calling or stopping in at Pete's Gun Shop at 413-743-0780.
Incidentally, the state license-to-carry permit is now recognized for concealed carry in 29 states, including: Arizona, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Check with Pete's Gun Shop periodically for new additions.
Residents of Vermont can get the state's nonresident license to carry by taking this course, and if national reciprocity legislation passes, they can then take advantage of it.
Gene Chague can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-637-1818.
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