MassWildlife has not announced any harvest numbers for archery, but it has released preliminary figures for the 2018 youth deer hunting day, which was held on Sept. 29. This year 1,115 youth permits were issued and 125 deer were reported online.
The archery season for deer is in full swing now and early reports indicate a better-than-average year. Hunters have also been showing me numerous photographs of large bucks with impressive antlers. I haven’t had the time to do any bow hunting this year, but after seeing the photos, I’ve been tempted to go.
MassWildlife has not announced any harvest numbers for archery, but it has released preliminary figures for the 2018 youth deer hunting day, which was held on Sept. 29. This year 1,115 youth permits were issued and 125 deer were reported online. Deer checked in at physical check stations will be tallied and added to the total at the conclusion of the regular deer-hunting seasons.
This youth hunt allows youngsters 12 to 17 years old to hunt for deer with their own permit during a special one-day season preceding the state’s regular annual deer-hunting seasons. Shotgun deer season regulations apply during the youth hunt. Licensed hunters who hunt other species on this date must follow special restrictions. Visit mass.gov/masswildlife for more information on regulations.
Deer are very active now and Mary and I have been seeing lots of tracks on our walks. Last Tuesday we took a drive in back of the house to pick up branches and some good-sized limbs that blew across the dirt road in the last windstorm. It was about a half-hour before dark as we drove slowly past a swampy area and suddenly Mary said, “Stop! Stop!” and when I did, she told me to back up slowly.
As I shifted into reverse, she said she had seen a big buck standing in the brush about 10 feet from the edge of the road staring at the truck as we drove by. When we got to the spot, we both scanned the woods carefully, but the deer was gone. She said it had big antlers and she wished I could have seen it.
For the last few weeks we’ve been seeing a doe and two yearlings feeding on grass and shrubs in the back yard. On one occasion Mary saw a fourth deer that cautiously stayed in the woods on the edge of the yard. It was big and she felt sure it was a buck, possibly the one she saw down back, but she couldn’t see the head well enough in the shadows of the trees to tell if it had antlers.
Deer move around more as the weather gets cold and they start searching for food sources to put on fat for the winter. November is also the peak of breeding season and the bucks are traveling far and wide looking for receptive does. Unfortunately, they are also crossing roads more than normal and many deer are getting hit by vehicles.
Most of the deer that get hit throughout the year seem to be does and yearlings, but in November when the bucks are rutting they make some foolish mistakes. This past Wednesday evening we heard that a large buck was hit and killed about a mile from our house and I wondered if it could have been the deer Mary had seen the day before.
Collisions with deer are becoming more common especially in this area of the state where the deer herd has increased considerably over the last 20 years. Each year the state asks drivers to be especially cautious during the fall mating season (October to mid-December).
An online site, wildlifehelp.org offers some tips to avoid a deer collision: If you see one deer, watch for more. Deer are herd animals and travel in groups. If one deer darts across the road, there’s a good chance there are more to follow. Deer are most active at dawn and dusk when drivers may have difficulty seeing. Keep your lights on and stay alert. Your headlights may also reflect off a deer’s eyes making it easier to spot.
If a deer crosses in front of you, brake accordingly and continue in your lane. Swerving to avoid the deer can create other accidents and the deer might dart into your new path anyway. Honk your horn. One long blast of your car’s horn could scare a deer out of your way.
If you should hit a deer, pull over in a safe location, turn on your hazard lights and notify the police. Stay away from the deer. If it is still alive it will be frightened and confused and you could be injured. Call for emergency services if your vehicle is damaged too badly to drive.