On The Ridge with Joe Judd: Fall reminders for a festive season ahead

Published: 9/20/2023 3:30:44 PM
Modified: 9/20/2023 3:30:04 PM

September moving into October is always an exciting time of the year for hunters who, very soon now (if they haven’t stated already) will be enjoying numerous opportunities in the field while experiencing the tremendous hunting and fishing we have right here Massachusetts for both big and small game alike! In addition, the late mild weather, fall foliage and long hunting seasons have recently combined to create outstanding conditions for brand new and experienced hunters who enjoy the sport. I expect much of the same this year as we move into another fall hunting and fishing season.

Tons of stuff is happening right now in the Bay State that you really should know about, so let’s get started with some items that should pique your interest as the autumnal equinox starts streaming into gear.

Antlerless deer permit award period underway

Hunters who applied for an antlerless deer permit before the July 16, 2023, deadline can now login to MassFishHunt to see if they were awarded a permit. And you can check your permit status any time all the way up to Dec. 31. Antlerless deer permits (ADPs) are required to harvest antlerless deer (deer without antlers or antlers less than three inches long). You can only harvest an antlerless deer in the zone specified on your ADP. Allocations are set by wildlife management zones to help meet deer management goals.

Surplus antlerless deer permits

All hunters will have the opportunity to buy surplus permits in September for zones 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. MassWildlife makes surplus permits available for zones that have permits remaining after the application/award process is completed. Surplus permits provide additional opportunities for hunters and minimize the number of permits that go unused. Anyone with a valid hunting or sporting license can buy a surplus permit online through MassFishHunt, in-person at select license vendor locations, or through a MassWildlife office. But be mindful that there are only a limited number of permits available for the popular zones of 3, 7, 9, and 12, and they will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Limit one ADP per zone per day until they sell out, and if you’re planning on buying one at a MassWildlife office, arrive on time, as sales will begin promptly at 9 a.m. with only cash or check being accepted. You will only be able to buy one surplus permit at a time per person. If you are planning to buy for someone else, you will be asked to wait in line again to ensure the process is fair for everyone.

A quick reminder that there are NO CHANGES to the 2023 deer hunting regulations – this has been confusing people of late, but the real deal is that while the Fisheries and Wildlife Board did approve an extension of the archery deer season for zones 1-9 in September 2023, these new regulations will not take effect until the 2024 deer hunting season. Be aware of this, and don’t make any uninformed decisions this year that might go bad for you due to any confusion. Just take an extra minute or two in the coming weeks and look over those 2023 hunting regulations again, just to be safe.

Learn how to scout for deer

Come scouting with the MassWildlife staff and learn what to look for when scouting for deer. During this two-hour class, participants will walk through the Quaboag Wildlife Management Area while instructors point out different signs and features to look for when scouting for deer. This event takes place this Saturday (Sept. 23) and goes from 9-11 a.m. The rendezvous point is Quaboag Wildlife Management area parking - Long Hill Road, Brookfield, and registration is required for the event. They tell me there are about 13-20 spots still available, so go to the MassWildlife website (hunting announcements) to register for this cool activity.

Fall stocking begins in mid-September

MassWildlife will stock over 60,000 trout in Massachusetts waters, and they will be in our region starting next week. With fewer crowds and cooler weather starting to set in, fall is a great time to go fishing. The breakdown of fish looks something like this: 25,000 rainbow trout will be over 14 inches, 31,600 rainbow trout will be over 12 inches, and 5,000 brown trout will be over nine inches. Now that’s a lot of fish, and very nice fish at that, no matter how you stack it (stock it) up. And when stocking begins, locations will be updated daily on a map that you can access at MassFishHunt. Just click on any point on the map for more information, and don't forget your fishing license — which you can also buy online at MassFishHunt.

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and sportsman. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, and a 2019 inductee into the N.E. Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Joe is also on the Quaker Boy Game Calls and Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Pro-Staff. He can be reached at jjontheridge@comcast.net


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