Shotgun deer season opens Monday
The shotgun season for deer opens Monday morning and there will be a lot of local sportsmen and women looking to fill the freezer with healthy venison. Hunters are reminded to wear at least 500 inches of hunter orange on their head, chest and back and always make sure of their target. Another important matter is to respect all landowners and appreciate the privilege they are granting.
Bow hunting season concluded Saturday and it appears that there were plenty of deer. The bucks have rutting on schedule and with a break from the weatherman, the shotgun and black powder seasons should be good.
Mahar Regional students are among the students in Massachusetts that have an opportunity to give archery a shot, thanks to a National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) offered by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife). MassWildlife and the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation have partnered with the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and the Archery Trade Association to promote student education and lifelong interest and participation in the sport of archery. MassWildlife’s NASP Coordinator, Astrid Huseby, reports that 70 schools across the state are now trained to offer the archery curriculum. In just the past year, 32 schools received training to offer this program. NASP’s two-week curriculum is primarily taught in school physical education departments by NASP-trained educators. MassWildlife provides the necessary one-day certification training for teachers. The purpose of the program is to provide school-age children with an exposure to a fun, alternative sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
Core elements to the program include:
1) A curriculum written by educators, conservation and target-archery experts.
2) A free 8 hour teacher training by MassWildlife where teachers learn to shoot and conduct the program. They also receive training on use and maintenance of bows and arrows.
3) Teachers learn to set up and operate a safe archery range in their gymnasium. Program protocols are designed to let students work at their own skill level while maintaining safety standards.
Teachers report that this archery program is excellent for less physically oriented students because the compound bows used allow beginners to be successful regardless of their size or strength. The program also helps improve student focus and attention to detail.
For those with an interest in competition, there is a statewide tournament that will take place next spring. “Last year was the first time we held a tournament and the Glen Urquhart School in Beverly won” said Astrid Huseby. “They went on to represent Massachusetts at the national NASP tournament held in Kentucky.”
School teachers who want to offer NASP in their schools need administrative approval and agree to use NASP approved equipment. A NASP kit consisting of bows, arrows, targets, repair tool kit and an arrow curtain costs $3000, but there are loaner kits available through MassWildlife offices and some sporting clubs and local organizations have helped raise funds for kit purchase by a NASP school. Mahar students are beginning this week in after school shooting time in preparation for participation in the competition.
This fall, MassWildlife have been sampling the waters of the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs in an ongoing effort to monitor Lake Trout populations and Commissioner George Peterson showed some pictures he took on a recent tagging trip. He had some huge lake trout and smallmouth bass that were collected and tagged. Each year, with the help of DCR, MassWildlife collects Lake Trout from the Quabbin Reservoir to examine population characteristics. This year, MassWildlife will be conducting a similar effort on the Wachusett Reservoir. To capture Lake Trout, field crews set nets on the spawning grounds starting around sunset and check them about every 20 minutes. Captured fish are removed from the nets, placed in livewells, and length, weight, and sex are recorded. In addition, a small tag is inserted into the fish that can be used to identify the individual if caught at a later date. If that same fish is collected next year, biologists will know exactly how much growth occurred in a one-year time period. Lake trout are very slow-growing fish and traditional methods of determining age, (i.e. reading the rings on scales) do not work well.
Lake Trout typically spawn in late October and November when the surface water temperatures drop to or below 50˚ F. The spawning grounds are typically shallow, rocky waters on windy shores of the Reservoirs; spawning occurs mostly after dusk. Night sampling on big waters can be cold and icy in November, but the information it provides biologists is well worth the effort. Sampling efforts like this are just one way that MassWildlife monitors the health of the fish resources of the Commonwealth.
2016 hunting, sporting, fishing, and trapping licenses will be available for purchase starting Monday, Dec. 1, through MassFishHunt, at a license vendor location, or at a DFW office. Anyone 15 or older needs a license in order to fish in freshwater or to hunt. During December, it is possible to purchase either a 2015 or a 2016 license; therefore, license buyers should use care when selecting the year when making a purchase. Minors 15-17 years of age may not purchase hunting or sporting licenses online and must have certain documentation in their possession when making a license purchase at a MassWildlife District office or other license vendor locations. Freshwater fishing licenses for minors 15-17 are free and can obtained online.