Sportsman's Corner Last Hurrah
When the migratory bird regulations for this season were set last August, it seemed unlikely that anyone would still be hunting woodcock when that season would end on November 21. This year seems to one that is very different from the norm as far as migratory activity. Woodcock, ducks and geese all usually have the peak of their migrations in late October but this year there has not been much movement and very few have experienced flights of woodcock or waterfowl to date.
This week Andrew Sawyer, the husband of my niece Kristine from Alabama is here for a couple of days and he loves to hunt. Waterfowl hunting is a favorite and he most frequently hunts wood ducks. We decided to try some duck hunting while he was here and contacted lifelong friend Mike Donnelly of Fitchburg to see if he could take us. Mike was more than happy to take us and he looked at what might be the best action. A year ago this week there were tons of geese around but this fall there has not been any real influx of migrating honkers. His fall back was hunting scoters in Boston Harbor and that sounded like a real different experience for the southern visitor.
Unfortunately, my brain was not functioning well and forgot about the required federal waterfowl stamp until the last minute and, of course, the post office, the only place where one can purchase waterfowl stamps is closed on Veteran’s Day. We then switched days and moved our Berkshire woodcock and grouse hunt up a day. That worked out great as we loaded Dinah in the Silverado and headed west Thursday after a breakfast at Johnson’s Farm. There was some drizzle but nothing major and we were soon walking up to a solid point. The woodcock flushed and Andrew had his first woodcock.
Less than two hours later, after working three covers, we had our three-bird limits just as the weather was going from fair to poor. A heavy, soupy fog rolled in and the rain picked up. The drive home was good, with a very tired dog between us, and Andrew had enjoyed a fine day of upland gunning where we moved fifteen woodcock and two grouse. The bad news was that the forecast for Friday and Saturday for the coast included small craft warnings and we would not be venturing out onto Boston Harbor. As this is being written we are still trying to decide what to do Friday. We could always bear hunt on Wheeler Avenue but bird hunting may be again be in the cards. I am sure Dinah will be up for another day of racing through the brush.
If Andrew shoots my Ruger Red Label twenty as well as he did Thursday, there will be more meat for the table. The Thursday hors d’oeuvres were woodcock breast filets, dipped in batter and deep fried. They were delicious after a little red wine marinade and a dip in the horseradish and sour cream.
The day also featured a license check by a female Massachusetts Environmental Police Officer who was professional, courteous and friendly. She did her agency proud. It was well worth the seventy minute drive as the local covers did not hold any birds the last time out. Dinah and I had scouted the Berkshire covers Tuesday and found birds in all the covers we checked.
Returning on Tuesday, I was gassing up in Greenfield when Tom Wansleben, MassWildlife wildlife stewardship specialist, was there and he had a beautiful rack buck in the back his truck he had killed with his bow that morning. He had not yet checked it in and had it weighed but is filled the bed of his Toyota Tacoma.
It is official, members of the Mahar Fish’N Game Club are heading to Alaska in June. Reservations for airline tickets and recreational vehicles are done and twenty-four students and parents are scheduled for the trip. This is the second such adventure and should be a great trip. The group will be raising money through the year to help reduce the cost.
Word from up north is that at least one buck is in camp in Pittsburg where Steve Johnson, Joe Adams, Pete Murphy, Gabe Murphy, and Jim Carr are spending a little quality time in the big woods. The warm weather certainly does no help but there is no doubt that New England whitetail bucks are rutting and you will see then running around at all hours chasing does. That impulse often overrides the buck’s natural wariness and makes it easier for hunters to fill their tags. Bowhunters should be seeing much more activity in the woods as we saw new rubs and scrapes while bird hunting. Good luck!