Sportsman’s Corner: Hunter ed course in Orange

Published: 05-25-2023 4:41 PM

By Mike Roche

A Massachusetts Hunter Education Course has been scheduled for Orange. New this year, a blended learning format will be utilized, combining home study and hands-on learning. Students first complete the Massachusetts Hunter Safety study guide on their own and submit proof before enrolling and attending one in-person class for hands-on practice and to take the final exam. That one-day class will be held at Mahar Regional School on July 29. Registration will be done through the MassWildlife Hunter Education Program staff.

Massachusetts Hunter Education courses are open to anyone age 10 or older and are free of charge. Those interested should go to the MassWildlife web page ( and follow the links to Basic Hunter Education. There they will find directions as to how to proceed. There will be lead time required in order to complete the pre-requisites for the July 29 session.

Meanwhile, trout stocking is still underway and all local trout waters have received fish, some more than once. To get the latest trout stocking information, go to the MassWildlife Trout Stocking Report. Search for local bodies of water by Wildlife District and you will find the latest stocking information. MassWildlife stocks about 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout from the five hatcheries in Belchertown, Sunderland, Montague, Palmer and Sandwich each year. Good luck!

Many of you have noticed dead brown plants beside our local roads and recognized them as Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant that wreaks havoc on the environment. The late frost we experienced did impact a significant number of patches, but it is not likely to have any long-term impact on the invasive plant.

Like many, this writer has battled knotweed, sometimes referred to as ‘bamboo,’ and for the most part has controlled it. There are many sources of info for dealing with it online, but they all remind you that eradication is a multi-year process. Please make the effort, you can make a difference!

Gov. Maura Healy has announced that Sen. Anne Gobi will join their administration as the new Director of Rural Affairs in the Executive Office of Economic Development. In the new role, Gobi will serve as a dedicated advocate and cultivate economic development within rural communities. Gobi will ensure that the needs of rural and regional economies are incorporated into the economic development plan being developed by the Executive Office of Economic Development.

Healey said in a statement: “We are building an economy that benefits all communities, businesses, and people in Massachusetts, particular those that are too often overlooked and underrepresented like rural and small towns.”

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“Senator Gobi’s fierce advocacy of rural equity, agricultural and small businesses, and conservation initiatives makes her the ideal candidate to help our rural towns across the state succeed.”

Healey said Gobi will be responsible for coordinating with state agencies to ensure that state government is attuned to the unique needs of these towns. “While I will miss the Legislature, I look forward to continuing to work for the needs of small towns throughout the Commonwealth as their advocate in state government,” Gobi added in a statement.

During the past 40 years, my professional and personal life have led me to observe state politics. From the perspective of viewing issues as a sportsman and educator, living in a rural part of the state, our local legislators have been tasked with keeping up with issues as they relate to our lifestyle and local interests. Over the years, Bob Wetmore, Steve Brewer and Anne Gobi served us as senators. Anne had “big shoes to fill” and she proved more than capable of representing her constituents. No one could have worked harder, and she is more than deserving of the appointment. I would like to thank her for all she has done and wish her the very best in her new position!

Turkey season in Massachusetts closed at noon last Saturday and this hunter did not fill a tag. The time spent in pursuit of gobblers was rewarding in other ways without pulling the trigger. In truth, it has been a long time since a spring did not include adding turkey breast to the freezer, but my enthusiasm and desire to kill a bird was not as great as previous years. In hindsight, more time trout fishing and dog training would have better so maybe a Note to Self for 2024.

That dog training is now heating up and regular trips to Hedgerow Hunt Club are on the schedule. The fly rod should get a workout as well. Enjoy your time outdoors and Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there.

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 MaharFish’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