In response to the proposal to have a two-week shotgun season added next January, I would like to ask if anyone has asked the Vineyard hunters about this? I hunt, it’s a passion, it’s part of who I am. I taught the hunter education program with Walter Ashley for more than 10 years. I have worked at the up-Island deer check station for close to 10 years. I have hunted on the Vineyard for the past 30 years. In simpler times, all one would have to do was to stop into Walter’s shop, C&W, to hear the pulse and sentiment of Island hunters.

Now I question the pulse and sentiment of Island hunters. I question the statistics used here: 4,000 herd size, 40 per square mile. According to whom? What is the estimated tick-infested rodent population on the Island, 100,000-plus? Are the deer being truthful on their family survey forms. Are those helicopters looking for pot plants or counting deer. My interest is in the health and welfare of the Island deer herd. I am also concerned with the epidemic level of Lyme disease. Deer play one complicated part of the puzzle. Is the herd too big? Probably. More people, less habitat. How to reduce the size: not two more weeks of shotgun. Gang hunting, or should I say group hunting, has a negative connotation. No, I will stick with gang because when adorned in hunter orange, I am often treated like a criminal, both by the general public and the law enforcement community. Maybe they mistake my gun for a pointy stick and think I am picking up trash.

To explain, hunting in groups is used to drive deer. It’s where you walk through the brush to get the deer up out of their hiding places and push them to another group of hunters who are waiting (the standers). It is the most effective way to lull deer. And like gangs, we are literally fighting for turf to hunt on. Open up the Trustees of Reservations, Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, Sheriff’s Meadow, Nature Conservancy and other large, private tracts of land to groups of shotgun hunters — not by means of unfair and complicated lotteries or archery-only areas — and you will see large numbers of deer taken. Have hunting on Sundays during the regular season. There is your two-week increase. Change the order of seasons: black powder and archery first, followed by shotgun. The hunters are the ones who are going to do all the work; ask them. A large part of the deer herd is living on private property not accessible to most hunters, and this will not change.

And speaking of changing seasons, perhaps we could also shorten the tourist season by at least two weeks. The traffic is terrible.

Herb Moody
West Tisbury