Sportsman’s Corner: Happy Veterans Day!

  • Mike Roche FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/10/2022 1:41:58 PM
Modified: 11/10/2022 1:41:31 PM

Today, we should all stop for a moment and think of the many sacrifices made over the years and still being made by those who choose to serve this country as members of the armed forces. The members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard have made a tremendous difference over the decades in how all Americans are able to enjoy our lives in this free country. My father, John E. Roche Jr. served in Air Force in World War II in England as an armorer for the P-15 Mustang, the fighter plane he proudly said “won the war” because it had enough range to protect the bombers as they flew missions to Germany. My sister Pat (AKA Tish) Wolf enlisted in the Army out of high school and served as a dental technician during her time at bases in the U.S. and Germany and her husband, Lt. Colonel James Wolf, retired as Deputy Director of the Combat Training Center at Fort Leavenworth. Their sacrifices and service, and that of all who have served this country, should be remembered on this Veterans Day.

For many, Veterans Day is circled on the calendar because it is generally considered to be the peak of rutting activity by whitetail bucks here in New England. Years ago, when this writer was getting started in bowhunting, the day off from school for Veterans Day was spent in a tree stand on a plot of land in New Salem. I had been given permission to hunt because the owner’s daughter was one of my students and a member of the MaharFish’N Game Club. It was a memorable day.

From sunrise to 11 in the morning, no less than 11 deer, including four bucks, were seen running past my location in a tree stand. The bucks were literally chasing the does. After dismounting the stand to walk around while attempting still hunting, a doe approached and was joined by an amorous rack buck. As soon as he got close, she ran off and left me standing there with my heart pounding. It was quite a morning!

The New Hampshire and Vermont rifle seasons usually open on or around Veterans Day and one opening morning in Vermont a spike buck approached a doe that had been feeding below me. Learning from my past experience, I took the shot when he paused and my tag was filled early. My guess is that lucky hunters may also benefit from the peak activity as the bucks will be moving non-stop. It is hard to say whether this huge Beaver Moon will help or hinder that activity.

For those still fishing, MassWildlife has stocked over 63,000 trout into Massachusetts waterbodies this fall. You can go to to see where fish were stocked. The stocking is completed but hatchery staff are hard at work preparing fish for future stockings. MassWildlife operates five fish hatcheries in the state, located in Sandwich, Belchertown, Montague, Sunderland, and Palmer. Every fall at this time, hatchery staff manually spawn trout at Palmer and Sandwich hatcheries to produce more than 1.5 million fertile brook trout, brown trout, and tiger trout eggs. The process involves combining eggs from the female and milt from the male. Water is added to activate the sperm. Male and female fish are quickly returned to the water to minimize stress.

The mixture is gently stirred to encourage fertilization. The eggs are placed in a bath containing a mixture of water and a special buffered iodine-based disinfectant. This process reduces the risk of disease and allows the eggs to absorb water and become fully formed and firm, a process called water hardening. The water-hardened eggs are then counted and placed in incubation troughs where they remain until they hatch. These million and a half eggs, coupled with rainbow trout eggs obtained through a cooperative program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will be reared at MassWildlife’s five hatcheries.

After incubating for about two months, the eggs hatch into fry. When they are about two inches long, the fry are moved from the indoor “hatch house” to outdoor rearing pools. The fish grow in these pools for 1.5–2.5 years until they reach stocking size. Depending on the species, trout are stocked when they are between 12–14 inches long. Trout will then be stocked in the hundreds of rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds throughout the commonwealth in upcoming years during spring and fall. That will enable Massachusetts anglers to continue to enjoy the outstanding fishing opportunities Massachusetts offers!

My bird hunting continues to be on “pause” as Laney’s paw heals. Hopefully, by the time you read this she will have been cleared by the vet at this week’s appointment. My feeling is that she may not be ready as the cut has not fully healed and I will be open to any and all suggestions that will get her back before the woodcock have all moved through!

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, Counselor and Director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, former Connecticut Valley District representative on the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, has been a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at

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