On the Ridge: So much to do, so little time

Published: 1/30/2019 7:18:00 PM

For sportsmen and women, and those who just love the outdoors, there’s a ton of things going on right now all around us. Ice fishing festivals, public meetings, fly tying classes, ALERTS, sportsmen shows, seminars, workshops, etc. Not to mention that hunting season is going strong. As I write this, opportunity abounds for upland game hunting which includes squirrel, rabbit, snowshoe hare, fox, bobcat, and my favorite winter warrior … New England brush wolf, I mean eastern coyote. Sorry about that Mass Wildlife! More on that subject at another time. But if you have a little time to kill, then “let’s get it on” and get out there and start doing something! Too much is happening to not take advantage of it while we can. Below are many activities you can attend and participate in (close to home) during these beautiful winter months of January, February and early March, which are great times of the year to be out and about. Especially if you’re into hunting and fishing! Here’s hoping that something to follow will catch your eye, your interest, and help you have a little fun, or perhaps become more informed as to what’s happening out there, with either information you need to know, or events you just might want to attend.

The 2019 hunting/fishing licenses are now available online and have been for a while. There’s a new twist this year with a MassFishHunt homepage login process that’s streamlined when your using a desktop. The extra features are also cool with mobile access coming to the site soon. Just search for MassFishHunt to check it out.

Here’s an ALERT that you won’t want to miss. There are some season date ERRORS in the printed 2019 Guide to Hunting and Fishing abstracts. These errors specifically pertain to hunting and trapping involving the snowshoe hare, black bear and furbearer seasons. Digital versions have been corrected, but hard copies which are available all over the place, contain incorrect season dates. Make sure you check it out on their MassFishHunt site as soon as you can!

On Thursday, February 7th and Wednesday, February 13 public meetings will be held for sportsmen and women to hear what’s being considered and to offer any feedback they wish to include. This regulation review was spawned at the request of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board of Directors after receiving input and support from the Mass. State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The evaluation of these regulations could potentially create new turkey hunting opportunities and increased participation. With the story of the return of the Massachusetts Wild Turkey possibly being the number one conservation success story in the history of our state, this regulation review is more than warranted as populations remain robust throughout the state with indications of continued success. David Scarpitti, who’s as good as it gets when it comes to turkey and upland game management, will make a short presentation on the proposed changes with an opportunity for public response and questions to follow. The public meeting on February 7th will be held at MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) at 6 p.m. The meeting on February 13th will be held at the Palmer Public Library (1455 N. Main Street, Palmer) at 6:30 p.m. 

The proposed changes to be presented and discussed are as follows:

• Increase the annual limit to 2 bearded birds in the spring and 1 of either sex in the fall.

• Increase the daily bag limit to 2 per day during the spring season.

• Expand the fall season (ARCHERY ONLY) to coincide with the archery deer season.

• Expand Youth Day turkey hunting hours to a half-hour before sunrise until 5 p.m.

More things to do and events to attend:

February 2019

February 2: Family Ice Fishing Festival, Pittsfield — This is a free learn to ice fish event at Pontoosuc Lake (81 Narragansett Avenue) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Please park on the street around the park and walk onto the lake from there.) Bring your ice fishing equipment or borrow ours; equipment and bait will be available on a first come, first served basis. This event is in cooperation with the Western Massachusetts Boy Scout Council. *Open to the public, no pre-registration required. For more information contact Jim Lagacy at jim.lagacy@mass.gov or (508) 389-6309. *PLEASE NOTE:  Less than 6" of safe ice, rain, or heavy snow will cancel this event. 

February 5: Living with Coyotes Presentation, Swampscott — Join MassWildlife's Northeast District Supervisor, Pat Huckery, to learn about coyote natural history and get your questions answered about how to prevent conflicts with coyotes in your neighborhood. This event will be held in partnership with the Swampscott Conservancy, 6:30–8 p.m., at the Swampscott Public Library (61 Burrill Street, Swampscott). And, on a personal note, Pat is the best when it comes to the natural history of this species. So, if coyotes’ interest you, then this is an event you won’t want to miss

February 5 & 7: Beginner Fly Tying Class, Charlton — Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the US Army Corps of Engineers Buffumville Dam Field Office (48 Old Oxford Rd., Charlton), 7–9 p.m. All tools and tying materials provided. This event is in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers Buffumville and the Charlton Conservation Department. *Open to the public, for beginning fly tiers only, minimum age is 15. Pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Todd Girard to register at todd.girard@townofcharlton.net or (508) 248-2247. 

February 9: Youth Fishing Derby sponsored by the Ashfield Rod and Gun Club — This event will run from 8:00am till 12 noon with registration beginning at 8:00am. Derby Headquarters will be located at the Ashfield Lake House. A spaghetti dinner will be served following the event at noon and will be held at Sanderson Academy. Prizes will be awarded (all participants will get a prize) and Tom Ricardi will be doing a, “Birds of Prey” presentation. The Ashfield Rod and Gun Club are a super group of individuals dedicated to the outdoors and hunting. And the youth programs they put on every year are just outstanding. Bring a kid and enjoy the day with some of the best sportsmen and women this region has to offer.

February 9: Family Ice Fishing Festival, Chesterfield — This is a free learn to ice fish event at Scout Pond – Tolgy Wood (the old Chesterfield Scout Reservation at Sugar Hill Road in Chesterfield) from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Bring your ice fishing equipment or borrow ours; equipment and bait will be available on a first come, first served basis. This event is in cooperation with the Western Massachusetts Boy Scout Council. *Open to the public, no pre-registration required. For more information contact Jim Lagacy at jim.lagacy@mass.gov or (508) 389-6309. *PLEASE NOTE:  Less than 6" of safe ice, rain, or heavy snow will cancel this event. 

February 9: Family Ice Fishing Festival, Oxford — This is a free, non-competitive, family friendly, learn to ice fish event at Hodges Village Dam (Augettaback Pond at 30 Howarth Rd., Oxford), 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Bring your ice fishing equipment, or borrow ours; limited equipment and bait will be provided. This event is in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers Buffumville Lake and the Charlton Conservation Department. *Open to the public, no pre-registration required. For more information contact Jim Lagacy at jim.lagacy@mass.gov or (508) 389-6309. *PLEASE NOTE:  Less than 6" of safe ice, rain, or heavy snow will cancel this event. 

February 10: MacGyver “Ed” Peary Ice Fishing Derby, Billerica — Join MassWildlife's Angler Education Program and the Billerica Recreation Department at Nuttings Lake in Billerica, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. The derby is open to the public and registration is on-site the day of the event; the registration fee is a gift for a child so that everyone goes home with a prize. Please RSVP to (978) 987-3487 to let the Billerica Recreation Department know you intend on coming and to check if there is safe ice. Parking will be available at Micozzi Beach in Billerica – enter lake through Turnpike Market parking lot. If you have extra ice traps (tip-ups), please bring them to share. Bait will be available onsite for a minimum charge, but please bring a bait bucket. For more detailed information call the Billerica Recreation Department at (978) 671-0921.

February 14:  Westborough — The February meeting of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will be at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters Office located at 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA, 1:30–4:30 p.m., in the Southwest Meeting Room, Room #103.

February 21:  Westborough — The February meeting of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board will be held on Thursday, February 21 at 1 p.m. at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, MA). If you have a disability or medical condition and would like to request special accommodations, please contact Susan Sacco at (508) 389-6342. Anyone wishing to be placed on the agenda to speak must notify the Board 2 weeks prior to the Board meeting; for more detailed information, contact Susan Sacco at (508) 389-6342.

February 22–24: Springfield Sportsmen's Show, West Springfield — This is a great event to hone up on your hunting and fishing skills by attending seminars while meeting some great sportsmen along the way. It’s also a great place to talk to outfitters, book a hunt, are see some of the new gear that’s out there for 2019. You can also stop by MassWildlife's booth to purchase your hunting/fishing licenses or ask questions about wildlife and the great outdoors.

February 27: Family Ice Fishing Clinic, Sudbury — This is a free family friendly learn to ice fish event at Puffer Pond in the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (Winterberry Way, Sudbury), 4–6 p.m. Bring your ice fishing equipment, or borrow ours, equipment and bait will be provided. This event is co-sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Open to the public, pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Jim Lagacy to register at jim.lagacy@mass.gov or (508) 389-6309. 

March 2019

March 12 & 14: Beginner Fly Tying Class, Westborough — Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough), 7–9 p.m. All tools and tying materials provided. *Open to the public, for beginning fly tiers only, minimum age is 15. Pre-registration is mandatory. To register or for more information, please contact Jim Lagacy at (508) 389-6309 or jim.lagacy@mass.gov.

March 19 & 21:  Advanced Fly-tying Class, Westborough — Learn new fly-tying skills during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough), 7–9 p.m. All tools and tying materials provided. This event is co-sponsored by the Charlton Conservation Department. *Open to the public, for intermediate to advanced fly tiers only, minimum age is 15. Pre-registration is mandatory. To register or for more information, please contact Jim Lagacy at (508) 389-6309 or jim.lagacy@mass.gov.

These last two programs in March are great for both the beginner and the seasoned fly fisherman who either want to learn, or just get better at, the art of fly tying. And there’s nobody I know any more capable than Jim Lagacy to help you get there!

Good Hunting!

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and outdoorsmen. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, and consultant. Joe is currently an active member of the Quaker Boy Game Calls, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's Pro-Staff.



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