A total of 292 deer were taken during the two weeks of shotgun season on the Vineyard, which ended on Saturday, Dec. 12. Hunters were successful and the numbers are close to what was expected, despite weather conditions that were less than ideal.
“The weather was not that great,” said John Scanlon, state wildlife biologist. Mr. Scanlon operated the deer check-in station at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest during the first week of the hunting season. He checked in 137 deer.
Opening day was warm and windy, but the weather turned foul later in the week, followed by a spell of bitter cold. The moon was full.
Mr. Scanlon said all the deer he measured ranged from 50 to 200 pounds and all looked healthy, suggesting that the Island herd is doing well and continues to expand.
Steve Purcell at Larry’s Tackle Shop operated a check-in station for the full two weeks. He checked in 64 deer, which he called way down. Based on last year’s numbers, Mr. Purcell said he expected closer to 100.
Bret Stearns, natural resources director with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), checked in 91 deer, which he said was about the same as last year.
Mr. Stearns said some hunters did extremely well while others did not fare well at all.
Mr. Scanlon said when there is a full moon, deer often feed during the night. “After feeding all night, they are less likely to be moving during the day,” he said.
During full moon conditions, he said most deer are taken at sunrise.
The shotgun season was also marked by a series of mishaps; two hunters were accidentally shot and two other incidents involved stray slugs hitting a Chilmark house and shattering the window of a VTA bus near parked near the airport. The hunters who were shot received relatively minor injuries and are recovering.
State environmental police Sgt. Matt Bass said it was a busy two weeks for him, with a small number of infractions handed out, less than a half dozen. He said he found two hunters in Chilmark not wearing enough orange and in West Tisbury he found someone hunting too close to a house.
But he said the accidents were unusual. “That was an anomaly, we don’t usually have accidents like that,” he said.
On Monday, antique firearms hunting season began; that season runs through Dec. 31.
Mr. Purcell said he checked in five deer on Monday.