Recently, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to proceed with a public hearing with proposed changes to regulations regarding pheasant hunting and small game. I tried to paraphrase them, but I think I would confuse us all. Therefore, I transmit verbatim the proposed changes [Portions have been abbreviated for print, visit BerkshireEagle.com/sports to read proposals in their entirety]:
“Extend the possibility of harvesting pheasants / quails until December
A small part of the stocked pheasants/quails survive the regular season from mid-October to November. After the deer hunting season, extending the pheasant and quail season until the end of December provides an additional opportunity for keen and skilled game bird hunters to harvest the remaining pheasant/quail. Additionally, rabbit/hare/squirrel hunters would also gain hunting opportunities through this season extension. Given the late-lived nature of this proposed hunting opportunity, we anticipate relatively low participation rates and therefore minimal, if any, concern or conflict with other hunters, recreationists and/or landowners.
Expand hunting tools allowed on stored WMAs and standardize hunting tools (shotgun and archery only) for pheasants/quails
Current regulations unnecessarily restrict hunting gear in populated Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to shotgun and archery for hunters hunting species other than pheasant and quail. Many stocked EMAs are large or in the form of multiple separate patches, so the restriction of tools unnecessarily impedes the hunting of other game. This change is also essential since the proposed expansion of the pheasant/quail season occurs during the muzzle-loading deer season. The expansion of hunting tools would most benefit black bear hunters during the November season and hunters of other furbearers.
In addition, the regulations would be amended to clarify that pheasant/quail hunters may only use shotguns and archery equipment on seeded WMZs and other seeded properties. Currently, shotguns and archery equipment are specified for pheasant/quail hunters on seeded WMAs, while on non-WMA seeded properties there are no restrictions. existing tools.
Expand hunting hours for deer/waterfowl archery etc., hunters on stocked WMAs, and standardize hunting hours for all pheasant/quail hunters
In stocked pheasant AMZs, current regulations unnecessarily prevent hunters during hunting seasons for deer, bear, fall turkey, waterfowl, etc., from being able to hunt during some of the best times for hunt these species. Populated WMAs can easily accommodate hunters who do not target pheasants and quail from 1⁄2 hour before sunrise to 1⁄2 hour after sunset, thus standardizing hunting times in and out of WMAs and simplifying regulations.
Additionally, pheasant/quail hunting hours would extend from sunrise to sunset, whether the hunt takes place on a stocked EMA or any other property. Currently, hunting hours are not the same on stocked EZGs (sunrise to sunset) compared to other stocked pheasant properties (1⁄2 hour before sunrise to 1⁄2 hour after sunset). Sun).
Simplified/expanded gray squirrel, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons
The regulations associated with hunting gray squirrels, cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hare are unnecessarily complicated. The proposed simplified framework would include a statewide rabbit/hare season beginning in mid-October (the Saturday after Columbus Day) and ending on the last day of February. Gray squirrel season would run from early September to February 28. HHarvesting of these small game species is minimal relative to population size, and any in-season expansion would not be detrimental to the long-term health of the population. These changes greatly simplify the regulations and provide additional early and late season opportunities for new and experienced hunters.
Suppress eastern cottontail rabbit season
Black-tailed rabbits have been missing from Nantucket for decades. There is no reason to have an open season for an extinct non-native species. »
So there you have it, straight from MassWildlife. The Mass. Fish & Wildlife Board has agreed to proceed with the recommendations and will set a date for a public meeting shortly. The Council is requesting preliminary information from the various leagues and sports clubs in the county. At its February 2022 monthly meeting, the Berkshire County Sportsman’s League unanimously endorsed the proposals, as did the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club.
Desired legislative proposals on hunting are gaining ground
Reliable sources report that the following legislative proposals will receive a favorable report from the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Most of them have been covered in recent articles in this column:
Senator Gobi’s Bill S. 546 — An Act to reimburse the Inland Waters Game and Angling Fund. This will reimburse MassWildlife for the free licenses made available to people aged 70 and over and could amount to more than $2 million per year.
H. 991 – Act relating to the use of crossbows for hunting. Petition from Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli and Rep. Viera’s Bill H. 1024.
S.552 — Senator Gobi’s bill on recoil reducing from 500 to 250 feet for archery.
Finally, all the Sunday hunting bills were put under consideration.
Hunters are encouraged to contact their representatives and politely ask them to support these invoices. Thanks to Rep. Smitty for his crossbow bill petition.
Hunting is still very popular here in the Berkshires
To hear some, we would deduce that almost no one hunts around here anymore. The percentage/number of hunters out of the total state/county population is quite low. One reason, they claim, is that the rewards for the effort are barely worth it. Well, have you checked the price of meat lately, or how much a restaurant roast duck meal will cost you?
The other rewards the hunter reaps are rarely mentioned. Things like fresh air, exercise, camaraderie with friends and family, and just being out there with mother nature and all the beauty she has to offer.
Lest you be swayed by misleading comments, please consider these statistics which were provided by MassWildlife to F&W Board Member Bob Durand. Bob kindly forwarded them to us:
According to MassWildlife’s 2020 license sales of the year (provided last year), 5,510 hunting and sport licenses were sold in the Berkshires (one sport license allows hunting and fishing). My friends, that’s a lot of local hunters.
Ice fishing contest
If you love fishing in New York, the Canaan Conservation Club will host its 23rd Annual Hardwater Fishing Derby on Queechy Lake on February 19. It will take place from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can register and pay online or by visiting canaanconservationclub.weebly.com.
Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for youth 15 and under. There will be prizes, raffles and more. Don’t forget that next weekend is a Free Fishing Weekend in New York State with no license required.
Also, don’t forget that the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club and Adams Outdoor for Youth organizations have planned an ice fishing derby on Sunday 20th February on Hoosac 1st and 2nd Lakes in Cheshire. It will take place from sunrise until 4 p.m. with weigh-in at Chaussée de Farnams. The ticket holder with the heaviest fish wins an Eskimo Quickfish 3 Ice Shelter and an 8-inch K-Drill Auger.
Prizes and refreshments will be at 5 p.m. at the Cheshire R&G Club House. Free for children 14 and under with an adult ticket holder ($10 donation).
Go fishing MA!
MassWildlife encourages you to use the Go Fish MA! map to target fish on the ice. The detailed depth information on the map can help you decide where to go and where to settle on a pond. You can even see the depth of the body of water in real time on your phone. I’ve tested it on a few spots where I ice fish on Stockbridge Bowl and it’s perfect.
Take a boating safety course
A boating safety course is recommended for anyone wishing to operate a boat. Young boaters between the ages of 12 and 15 must complete a state-approved boating safety course to operate a powerboat without adult supervision. Boat Massachusetts is a free, 10-12 hour course offered by the Massachusetts Environmental Police. Family participation is encouraged and has proven to be very rewarding.
There is such a course coming up at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club on the following evenings: 28th February, 3rd, 7th and 9th March. All courses must be taken. The course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
For more information, click on mass.gov/services-details/boating-safety.