Marc Folco — Open Season: Archery season a good time to take a buck
By MARC FOLCO
MassWildlife has released its final figures for the 2013 deer hunting seasons which revealed that the best chance for taking a buck in this area is during the archery season.
A total of 11,566 white-tailed deer were harvested statewide during the combined hunting seasons last fall. By season, that total breaks down as follows: six deer taken during the special deer season for paraplegic sportsmen; 4,486 taken in the archery season; 4,609 taken during the shotgun season; 2,343 taken during the muzzleloader season; and 122 deer harvested during the Quabbin Reservation hunt. Of the total, 6,556 were adult males (bucks), 4,070 were females (does) and 940 were button bucks (six-month old males).
Wildlife Management Zone 11, here in Southeastern Mass., produced the greatest harvest of all zones, with a total of 2,660 deer taken — 1,422 bucks, 1003 does and 235 button bucks. Interestingly, the shotgun season used to be the biggest deer-producing season, but the greatest harvest was during the archery season with a total of 1,152, compared to 989 deer taken during the shotgun season. A total of 519 were taken during the muzzleloader season.
The trend of more deer being taken during archery season began recently. In Zone 11 during the 2012 seasons, 1,052 deer were taken by bowhunters, compared to 873 during shotgun season. In 2011, shotgun season was higher with a harvest of 1,079 taken, compared to 907 taken by bowhunters. In 2010, 970 were taken by bowhunters with shotgun hunters taking 941, the first year in recent times that the archery tally was higher than shotgun.
Also of interest is that, according to the 2013 figures for Zone 11, the archery season is your best chance at taking a buck. During that season, hunters took 751 bucks, 318 does and 83 button bucks. In comparison, 476 bucks were taken during the shotgun season, along with 408 does and 105 button bucks.
Taking into consideration that the archery season now is six weeks, compared to two weeks for the shotgun season, more hunters have been expanding their time afield by getting into bowhunting, one of the factors resulting in the higher harvest. The 2013 numbers showed that archers took 275 more bucks than shotgun hunters. And looking at the buck-to-doe ratio, those hunting with bow and arrow took more than double the amount of bucks than does, but during the shotgun season, hunters harvested only 68 more bucks than does.
The rut, or mating season, is another factor that attributes to the high archery harvest. Typically, the rut is in mid-November, during the archery season, when love-sick bucks usually move more often during daylight hours in search of does, making them more vulnerable.
During the 2013 muzzleloader season, hunters took 195 bucks, 277 does and 47 button bucks for a total of 519. This could mean that the adult bucks are much smarter and have gone completely nocturnal by muzzleloader season, the last of the seasons and ending on Dec. 31. Also, some hunters may hold out on using their antlerless permits (doe permits) until the end of the season.
Even though I don’t agree with the proposal, as hunters I talk to are reporting seeing less deer in recent years, along with my own personal observations, MassWildlife biologists are proposing to continue to reduce the deer density in Zone 11 by increasing the number of antlerless deer permits by five percent this fall. For the 2014 seasons, 11,000 permits are slated to be issued, an increase of 500 over the 2013 season allocation of 10,500 permits.
For a complete report of the 2013 season, go to the Whitetail Deer Harvest Information web page at mass.gov/masswildlife or visit http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/hunting-fishing-wildlife-watching/hunting/deerharvestsummary13-press-v2.pdf.
The Mass. House of Representatives recently passed a bill (H 4114) partially lifting the state’s ban on Sunday hunting by allowing the use of bows and arrows for hunting during the last three months of the year. This would allow bowhunting on Sundays, and would include the archery deer season in mid-October and continuing through the shotgun and muzzleloader deer seasons. To become law, the House bill must next pass the Senate and then be signed by the governor. The House rejected an amendment to the bill allowing any city or town to opt out of the law by sending a certified letter to the director of the Fisheries and Wildlife.
The Sunday Hunting Coalition estimates that legalizing Sunday hunting in Massachusetts could lead to the direct and indirect creation of more than 500 new jobs and $51 million in economic activity by keeping hunters from traveling to neighboring states like New York, Rhode Island and New Hampshire where Sunday hunting is legal. According to the coalition, only 11 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia) currently have Sunday hunting restrictions or prohibitions that date back to “blue laws” enacted in the 1700s.
MassWildlife also reminds hunters that the deadline to apply for an antlerless deer permit is July 16. This permit is required of any hunter who wishes to hunt antlerless deer. There is no fee to apply. A $5 fee is charged if you are selected for a permit during the Instant Award period. If you are not sure you submitted an application, check your hunting license in the Item Purchased section where you will see a line item that reads: “Antlerless Deer Permit Application- /Zone xx” or log on to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt and check your customer inventory. If you have not yet applied, you can submit your application either online or at a license vendor.
DEER NUMBERS UP IN MAINE
Maine’s deer herd is rebounding after a crash due to severe winters a few years ago. According to the latest report from Maine’s Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW), hunters harvested 24,795 deer during the 2013 deer seasons, an increase of 15 percent over the 2012 harvest of 21,552 deer. The 2013 harvest is the third consecutive year the deer harvest has increased, reflective of a deer population that has grown since the back-to-back severe winters of 2008 and 2009.
The increased success last fall doesn’t mean an increase in doe permits allocated for this coming fall however, as Maine’s biologists have recommended decreasing the number of doe permits because of severity of this past winter.
Due to a peak year for winter ticks and their impact on the moose population mortality this winter, Maine is also reducing the number of moose permits available to hunters this fall, the IFW reported last week. For the 2014 season, the department will issue 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.
MULVEY LANDS BIGGEST FISH AT DERBY
The Acushnet Lions Club and the Streams and Lakers Club announced the winners of their annual Kids Fishing Derby held at the Lake Street Ponds in Acushnet on Saturday. Jacob Mulvey landed the biggest fish of the day — a 2-pound, 15-ounce largemouth bass. William Morrow caught the most fish of the derby, followed by Christopher Cadima in second and Audra Saucier taking third. All were from Acushnet.
Derby Chairman Joe Costa said the derby is always a success thanks to volunteers and sponsors who donate services or goods, including John’s Bait and Tackle, Gary’s Best Hot Dogs, Acushnet Creamery, Dunkin Donuts of Acushnet and Mr. Cesspool (portable restroom).
GOAL ORGANZING A RALLY AND LOBBY DAY IN BOSTON
Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL) reports that the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security on Monday voted in favor of Speaker DeLeo’s anti-gun bill H.4121, by just one vote. In response, GOAL is organizing a Rally and Lobby Day in Boston on Wednesday beginning on the front stairs of the State House at 11 a.m., then will proceed inside to meet with legislators, with GOAL’s Executive Director Jim Wallace slated to be the guest speaker, followed by others. For more details and regulations regarding the State House and Boston Common, visit GOAL.org or go to http://webmail1.mail.aol.com/38584-416/aol-6/en-us/Suite.aspx.
PROJECT HELPS CONTROL MOSQUITOES
Mosquitoes have been bothersome with the recent warm and humid weather, but there’s an easy way to get rid of most of them for free, through the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project. The project serves the communities by suppressing both nuisance and disease carrying mosquito populations to tolerable levels in the most environmentally sensitive and economical manner, utilizing a variety of methods to minimize potential effects on people, wildlife and the environment.
Spraying began on June 2 and will continue through the summer. To request a spray, call 508-823-5253 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., fax to 508-828-1868, or email RequestBristolMCP@comcast.net
If requesting a spray via fax or email, include first and last name, street name and number, and town. If making multiple requests for your street, submit the contact information of the person making the request, including phone number.
Spray requests for special events (weddings, festivals, etc.) need to be scheduled a minimum of three weeks in advance. The project receives a number of these special requests and schedules them on a first come, first served basis. This advance notice is also required for cities and towns. For more information, visit BristolCountyMosquitoControl.com