As the second full week of bow hunting season comes to a close, things seem to be shaping up to be about the same as last year, if not better.
The Massachusetts deer hunting season opened on October 17th and runs through December 31st. It includes a six-week archery season, two-week shotgun season, and a three-week muzzleloader or black powder season. Archers start the season, and because of this, the number of hunters using bows has increased over the years.
According to Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW), Martha’s Vineyard deer hunters took a total of 570 deer during the 2010 archery, shotgun, and muzzleloader seasons combined. Bow hunters took 179 deer during archery season, up 22 deer over the 2009 season and 18 less than the record archery total in 2008.
All deer must be tagged and checked at an official check station. There are three official stations: in Edgartown, the natural resources department and the State Park station in Oak Bluffs. Some town police chiefs are also able to check deer by appointment.
According to Steve Purcell from Larry’s Bait and Tackle, the start of the season is looking good. “There were a pretty good amount of deer for the first two weeks,” he said. Purcell says he’s checked somewhere between 50-55 deer since the season opened with an average of five deer coming in a day. “We got off to a bit of a slow start last year,” said Purcell. “This year is looking a little better.”
Up-Island in Aquinnah things are moving more slowly than they down-island. According to Bret Stearns from the Wampanoag Tribe natural resources department, “we’ve had less than six so far this year.” But, Stearns added, “that’s not uncommon for archery season.” This is not because there are more hunters down island than up island, said Stearns, but because his station sees less of the action then Larry’s. “We’re a great source of convenience, but down there is far more social and entertaining.”
Over at the State Forest check station, John Varkonda says he’s also seeing a bit of a slow start, but not one that is much different than last year. “There’s people out hunting,” he said, “but they haven’t been seeing too many deer.” According to Varkonda, the deer need the cold weather to get them in the mood, so to speak. “The weather is just now starting to get a little colder and that makes them get up and start to move around a little more.”