Two week deer shotgun hunting season begins Monday

Hunters gathered at the state forest check station during shotgun week past. — File photo by Ezra Newick

The Massachusetts two-week deer shotgun season begins one-half hour before sunrise Monday and ends one-half hour after sunset on Saturday, Dec. 10.

While risk to non-hunters is minimal, public safety officials advise people entering wooded areas to exercise caution and wear bright colors, preferably blaze orange, particularly at dawn and dusk, when deer and hunters are most active.

Hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any occupied dwelling or building, without the authorization of the occupant or owner, and 150 feet from hard-surfaced roadways. Hunters must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of blaze orange on the back, chest, and head.

In past comments, Environmental police sergeant Matt Bass said that while walkers and hikers are not required to wear orange they should be aware it is hunting season and dress appropriately. He said blaze orange is “a good idea.”

The six-week archery season ends on Saturday. Hunters are having some success.

At Larry’s Tackle on Upper Main Street in Edgartown, an official deer check station, Steve Purcell, owner, said that as of Monday he had checked in 123 deer, 39 bucks and 84 does. That is one more animal than last year at the same time.

Island bow hunters took 179 deer in 2010, an increase of 22 deer over the 2009 season and 18 fewer than the record archery total in 2008.

Weather and environmental conditions, including acorn production, affect Island deer harvests. A lack of acorns this year means that deer must travel to look for food.

In 2009 and again in 2010 the Island had an abundance of acorns, one of the deer’s favorite foods. That meant that the animals did not have to travel very far to feed and were therefore less vulnerable to hunters.

Vineyard deer hunters took a total of 570 deer during the archery, shotgun, and muzzleloader seasons in 2010. By comparison hunters checked in 628 deer in 2009 and 696 deer in 2008.

All deer taken during the Vineyard shotgun season must be appropriately tagged and brought to an official deer-checking station in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, the Wampanoag tribal headquarters building in Aquinnah, or Larry’s Tackle.

The primitive firearms deer season begins Monday, Dec. 12, and ends Saturday, Dec. 31.