Archery Deer Hunting Season May Set Record

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Preliminary archery deer season figures, compiled by MassWildlife's five district offices, suggest a new record may be on the horizon. A preliminary total of 2,886 deer were checked by official stations across the state, ahead of the 2,811 record-setting total established in 2000. By regional Wildlife District, the tally is as follows: Western 320, Valley 442, Central 567, Northeast 522, and Southeast 1,035. Final figures for the archery, shotgun and primitive firearms deer seasons will be generated in late winter or early spring after all deer kill report cards have been entered into the deer database and analyzed.

The archery season continues to account for an increasingly significant percentage of the annual take and is an important tool in overall deer management, particularly in the eastern third of the state. To that end, all deer hunters will be required to possess an antlerless deer permit to take an antlerless deer in 2002. The change, enacted by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, is designed to give MassWildlife biologists more control over the number of female deer taken during the respective seasons. Using permit allocations, biologists will be better able to increase, decrease or stabilize deer densities in each of the fifteen management zones. Access is key to using regulated hunting as one means to help balance deer populations with available habitat. Archers typically enjoy greater access to private property where the discharge of firearms is either impractical due to development or prohibited by local bylaws.

Bowhunters also appreciate a quality and traditional outdoor experience, observing the rhythms of Nature at dawn and dusk and using the renewable deer resource for meat and leather. "My greatest memories from this bow season didn't include a deer," observes one veteran bowhunter. "I watched a black-capped chickadee land on my bow and inspect the camouflage pattern for seeds or insects. Then it hopped over to my fanny pack and continued its search. Golden crowned kinglets and tufted titmice landed within an arms-length, totally unaware of my presence. I was really part of the forest for a few brief hours that morning, rather than an intruder. Another day it was the flash of an immature goshawk gliding through the oaks and pines just three feet off the ground. You don't have those opportunities in our busy, day-to-day world."