Two-week shotgun season for deer begins Monday

In this September 10 photo, the same buck has scraped and sharpened his rack in anticipation of the rut. His coat has darkened to blend in with the fall foliage. — Photo by Phil Cronin

The Massachusetts two-week shotgun season for deer begins one-half hour before sunrise Monday, December 2, and ends one-half hour after sunset on Saturday, December 14.

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

The 2013 deer hunting season inaugurated a major change in how the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) monitors hunting activity. With the exception of shotgun season, hunters now have the option to check in deer online. The one exception is to allow the division to collect biological data about the health of the herd.

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 in Edgartown (call for hours).

In 2012, Island hunters took 610 deer, the majority of them with shotguns. That figure represents a significant drop over the 2011 season when Island hunters shot 792 deer.

By season, Island hunters took 170 deer during the six-week archery season in 2012, compared to the 214 deer they took in 2011; 356 deer during the two-week shotgun season compared to 454 in 2011; and 84 deer during the approximately three-week primitive firearms season compared to 124 deer in 2011.

The six-week archery season ends this Saturday. The primitive firearms deer season begins Monday, Dec. 16, and ends Saturday, Dec. 31.

The Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun club on Third Street in Edgartown will host a shotgun deer shoot competition from 10 am to 2:30 pm, this Sunday, Dec. 1. The public is invited.