Sportsman’s Corner: Is November the New October?

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 11/9/2018 7:44:54 PM
Modified: 11/9/2018 7:45:03 PM

For many reasons, people are looking at the weather (short term) and climate (long term) and concluding that something is changing quite fast. The severity of storms, the fluctuations in precipitation and many weather events generate considerable conversation. It is not my intent to debate that today. What this bird hunter is seeing is the migration of American woodcock is happening much later in the year.

Earlier this week, this New York hunting guide returned to hunting camp in the far northern reaches of the Empire State to guide a group from New York City that asked that I spend a few days with them and their dogs. Joe Milone Sr. and his son Joe Milone Jr. have been hunting with me for seven years at the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Society New York Hunt, but could not make this year’s event. It seems someone in the family had selected October for a wedding and Joe Jr. was the best man. Hard to believe, but true. Things like that happen in even the best families, as we learned when my niece Kristine tied the knot on Columbus weekend.

In those far northern reaches, it was cold and windy, but the recent snow had melted. We only moved a few woodcock but the grouse hunting was superb. With the cold and wind having denuded the trees, you could see the birds in flight and the English setter and five English pointers were well-bred and well trained. It was another example of hunting with GPS and the dogs ranged far and wide, as field trial dogs are trained to do. When they struck scent, however, they pointed solidly, and most points resulted in flushes in gun range. The boys feasted on grouse every night and had a great time.

This time my return home was better. You see, I developed giardia the last time and was deathly ill for 48 hours. I mean really sick! The malady, sometimes called beaver fever, caused me to have extreme diarrhea and blocked my intestines, not a fun combo. Dr. Donald Mruk put me on a clear liquid diet and it was a very effective weight loss program! Once he had the results from the X-rays and lab cultures (more fun!) he phoned me to give me the diagnosis and sent a prescription for a very powerful antibiotic to CVS online pharmacy as when he called, I was walking in to a woodcock point hunting with Steve Williams in the Berkshires. Within 24 hours I was back eating but the drug, metronidazole, suppressed my appetite and left a metallic taste in my mouth for two weeks!

Since my young French Brittany, Laney, was sick earlier in the week, I am sure that the parasite was passed to me when I patted her and then ate something as we drink bottled water at camp to avoid issue with wilderness water sources. I am very glad it is over!

Returning home, the dogs convinced me to take them hunting when I returned from work Thursday afternoon. They had not hunted in over a week and it was a chance to get them some exercise. I do not normally run them together as controlling the two can be a bit much. At a local cover, however, I put them both down and had Dinah beeping on point almost immediately when my cell phone rang with a call from my daughter Jen. The delay resulted in a wild flush and no shot, but the rest of the hunt, involving visiting three small covers, was outstanding! The dogs found, pointed and backed a number of woodcock and three were shot and retrieved to hand in about an hour. It was a fantastic fall day and hopefully the prelude of some more flight woodcock over the next couple weeks!

There is definitely a lot of deer rutting activity in local covers and bow hunters are starting to see and connect. The local crew I hunt deer with has headed north to hunt Maine and Pittsburg, New Hampshire, looking to find those big northern tier whitetails that tip the scales well over 200 pounds.

A reminder from MassWildlife to hunters who hunt states with CWD. To keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from spreading to Massachusetts, it is illegal to import deer parts (from any cervid species including white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, caribou, moose, elk, etc.) from any state or province where CWD has been detected. This includes Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and many other states and provinces – view a map of CWD positive areas in North America. Live deer of any species may not be brought into Massachusetts for any purpose.

You may bring in meat which has been cut and wrapped (commercially or privately), deboned meat, hides with no head attached, cleaned skull caps (no muscle or brain tissue attached) with attached antlers, antlers with no muscle or brain tissue attached, or fixed taxidermy mounts.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease that is 100% fatal to cervid species. It attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to exhibit abnormal behavior, become emaciated, and eventually die. Infected deer can spread the infectious agents through urine, feces, saliva, etc. for months before showing clinical symptoms. The infectious agents are in very high concentrations in the brain and spinal tissue, so an infected carcass left on the landscape can be major problem. The infectious agents can remain in the soil for over 10 years and can be taken up into the leaves of plants that deer eat. No CWD infected deer have been found in Massachusetts.

If you see a deer or moose in Massachusetts exhibiting any signs of this disease or any other disease, please contact MassWildlife at (508) 389-6300.


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