Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Local youth turkey hunting results were low, but enthusiasm was high

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The special mentored youth turkey hunting day took place on April 28. The combined turkey harvest for the Lee and Stockbridge Sportsmen's clubs was only 4 birds. Its hard to figure out why, as the weather wasn't bad, the mentors are eminently qualified, the kids are decent shots and there appears to be a lot of turkeys strutting their stuff out there. Maybe the toms detected an accent in the turkey calls this year and became leery. Well, that's the way it goes ... no excuses were offered.

This year, I covered the Lee Sportsmen's Association, which had 9 participants in the program and two birds were taken. Alex Navin, while hunting with mentor Doug LaPlante, managed to bag a 15-pound bird around 6 a.m. with one clean shot to the head. They called in five or six other gobblers, too. He is very pleased with his new 20-gauge Mossberg Shotgun.

Daniel Epe, who was mentored by Mark Bartini, heard at least six toms all around them. The trouble was that some were in back yards and obviously he couldn't go there to hunt them. He had one bird interested in Mark's call, but he got busted and the bird detected them and took off.

A similar situation occurred to Will Loring, who was mentored by Isaac Winters. They had a bunch of gobblers nearby but couldn't call them in. One bird had the nerve to strut nearby, but it got away. Matt Ranzoni was mentoring Will's brother Charlie Loring and he bagged a 17-pound. bird. No luck for Taylor Salice, who was mentored by Josh Hurlihey, but she had a good time hunting never-the-less.

John Ranzoni mentored Hunter Briggs, and he took a shot but didn't drop the bird.

After having a burger or two — excellently prepared by Tom and Virginia Dubois — the youngsters learned how to dress out the birds. In addition to the meat, they were shown how to save the tail feathers, beards, spurs, other feathers, etc.

Meanwhile, the folks at the Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club also bagged two birds. Some 18 youths went out turkey hunting this year. Thanks to information provided by spokesman Mike Buffoni, here is how they did:

Two youths got birds and Mike reported that at least three other youths had shots but missed. Every kid had great action and heard birds gobbling. Colby Carlson (Mike's nephew), who was mentored by Brian Korte, went on his first hunt ever and got a jake. Brady Donald also got a nice bird. Pretty sure it was his first also.

"Very cool to see the excitement in these youth hunters," said Mike.

As usual they had a really nice lunch put on by chef Peter Delgrande at the club. After eating, they also learned how to tend to the birds. Quite a few of the kids didn't come for lunch and most were in shorts so they didn't get a group photo this year. We did get a picture of young Colby Carlson with his turkey. The expression of joy and pride says it all, hey?

Few details came from North County, except that Scott Krzanik of Adams was mentoring his daughter Grace when she bagged an 18-pound bird with a nine-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs. She did this at 6:35 a.m. I believe I interviewed her back in 2016 when she got her first bird on youth day as well. Scott said that Matthew Tassone also got a nice tom.

According to Astrid Huseby, DFW Youth Turkey Hunt Coordinator, they don't have exact numbers of how many youths participated. They do know that 270 youths ages 12-17 obtained the required permits/authorizations to hunt on the youth day, but not how many of those 270 actually went out hunting.

As for how many turkeys were harvested, they have a preliminary number of 52 birds reported online. More birds may have been harvested and taken to a check station that doesn't use online reporting so they won't have total numbers until the end of the season when all harvest reports are collected from check stations.

Free Fishing Days

In order to plan your fishing trips, here is a listing of free fishing days, where no freshwater license is needed: In Massachusetts, the dates are June 2-3. You can also take advantage of free saltwater fishing on Father's Day weekend, June 16-17. While you can fish for free on June 2-3, a license is required at all other times if you're 15 or older. If you're aged 15-17, your license is free.

In New York the free fishing days are June 23-24. They also have two additional free fishing dates in the fall which are September 22 and November 11. In Vermont it is June 9. (Be sure to verify that date as I am receiving conflicting dates for Vermont). In New Hampshire the day is June 2; in Maine, the dates are June 2-3; the Connecticut date is May 12 and in Rhode Island they are May 6-7. Now's your chance to "test the waters" in our neighboring states for free.

Pistol Shoots

The Cheshire Rod & Gun Club, located at 310 Curran Road, will be having outdoor pistol shoots this year. The monthly shoots take place on Saturdays starting at 10 a.m. The entry fee for the first shoot is $10 and $5 for the second shoot. The winners will split half of the first shoot take and all of the second shoot take. On May 12, there will be "Wood Blocks Standin' on a Log" centerfire. 5 shots at 5 blocks at 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards.

Rules: For Rimfire — .22 Caliber, Semi-Automatic Pistols or Revolvers. For Centerfire — Semi-Automatic Pistols or Revolvers, no caliber over .45, red dot scopes are allowed, 1 or 2-handed allowed.

Also, on May 20, they will be having a Steel Action Shoot, and on May 24 they will be having their first Thursday Night Steel Match.

For more information contact Martha Lee at 413-212-4154 or Evelyn Jones at 413-684-3391.

Trout Stocking

The following waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Hoosic River in Adams, Cheshire and Clarksburg; Greenwater Pond in Becket; West Branch of the Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Huntington and Middlefield; Westfield River Mainstem in Russell; Potash Brook in Blandford and Russell; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Hudson Brook in Clarksburg; Pontoosuc Lake in Lanesborough; and Big Pond in Otis.

Fishing Derby

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having its next free children's fishing derby next Saturday from 9-10:30 a.m. at its lower pond. Children aged 12-and-under must be accompanied by an adult.

Bass Fishing Tournament

The bass fishermen have started their 2018 tournaments and the first event was at the Congamond Lakes in Southwick on April 29.

The results are as follows: First place went to Ricky Terzak with 16.4 pounds of bass. In second place was Paul Procopio with 12.13 pounds. Dave Benham took third with 12.4 pounds, fourth place went to Bill Gates with 11 pounds and in fifth place was Bill Pigott with 8.7 pounds. These are five-fish totals weights. All were caught, weighed in and released.

The lunker (largemouth) bass was taken by Bill Gates, one weighing 4.1 pounds. Paul Procopio caught a 3.3-pound smallmouth. Both are currently leading in the Lunker of the Year contests.

Registration is open for the next tournament which takes place on May 13.

HVA to conduct Stream Assessments of the Konkapot and Williams Rivers

The Housatonic Valley Association invites interested individuals to help form "Stream Teams" to complete Stream Assessments this spring and summer. "Stream Team" volunteers will walk, sometimes in the river, or paddle along an assigned segment of the river and record information along the way. All of the information collected will be compiled into a final Stream Assessment Report which will include conditions and use of the river sections plus possible recommendations for future projects. Assessments are to be completed from May to July and can be scheduled according to the volunteers' availability.

HVA has scheduled a Stream Assessment volunteer training on Tuesday, May 15 from 5-7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Mason Library in Great Barrington. Registration is required and space is limited. They will also conduct an on-stream training practice review with date and time to be determined.

These surveys help HVA assess the health of the river and work with the community to improve that part of the watershed. All of the information collected will be compiled into a final Stream Assessment Report, which will include conditions and use of the river sections, plus possible recommendations for future projects. These reports should be available in October 2018 on HVA's website (hvatoday.org). Copies of the report, both digital or hard copy, can be requested.

Funding for the Stream Assessments is provided by The Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. The Green River and Southwest Branch of the Housatonic River Stream Assessments were completed in 2017. Copies of these reports and other previous reports are available at hvatoday.org or you can call and request a copy. If you are interested in participating in this project, call HVA at 413-298-7024 or email Alison at adixon@hvatoday.org.

The two Stream Assessments that are to be completed this year are the Williams and Konkapot Rivers. Both of these rivers are tributaries of the Housatonic River. The Williams River flows south and southeast through West Stockbridge and Great Barrington where it joins the Housatonic River while the Konkapot River begins in Monterey and continues south through New Marlborough and, after a dip into Canaan, Connecticut, flows into the Housatonic River in Sheffield.

"Stream Teams" for each of the rivers will be made up of small groups of 2-3 volunteers and the teams are typically assigned a 1-2 mile section of the river. HVA will train "Stream Team" volunteers on how to conduct the survey, what information to record, and safety protocols. Volunteers will be asked to record things of note such as: pipes that are seen, invasive plants or wildlife observations, and general river conditions and usage. Following the surveys, the "Stream Team" volunteers will come together to share their findings and discuss suitable recommendations. The information gathered will be compiled into final Stream Assessment reports — one for each of the tributaries.

Not all "Stream Team" members need to be involved in conducting a survey. If you have an interest or expertise in either the Williams or Konkapot Rivers, HVA welcomes your input. Trainings are expected to be scheduled in May.

Surveys will be completed from May through July, weather and water levels permitting. The final reports, which are expected to be compiled in late summer, will be submitted to the local municipalities and state government and should also be available to the public by October. The assessment will be placed on the HVA website along with their past reports. Feel free to check out these past reports to help understand more about this program. Contact HVA at 413-298-7024 for more information about volunteering for a "Stream Team."

Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting

The May meeting of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board will be held on May 16 at 1 p.m. at the Stationery Factory, 63 Flansburg Avee, Dalton.

Gene Chague can be reached at berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or 413-637-1818.

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