Hunters Island-wide took to the woods Monday morning for the start of the annual two-week shotgun season. Beginning a half an hour before dawn Monday and ending Dec. 10, shotgun season follows bow hunting which began Oct. 3. The deer hunting calendar ends on Dec. 31, with primitive firearms follows shotgun season.

Walkers and hikers are advised to practice caution and wear blaze orange when walking in the woods — especially around dawn and dusk. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays.

Speaking with the Gazette by phone Monday, Patrick Roden-Reynolds, who runs the Agricultural Society deer locker in West Tisbury, said deer brought to the facility through late October have already nearly matched totals from the 2021 hunting season. The public locker allows hunters to refrigerate their game for a fee, and also accepts donations which are later processed and given to Island food equity programs.

“We’ve checked in pretty close to 40 deer,” Mr. Roden-Reynolds said, noting the locker held about 50 deer total last year. “We’ve got a good solid month left.”

“I think it’s going to shape up to be a better season than last year,” he added.

Last year, Island hunters brought in just 667 deer throughout the season, a 28 per cent drop from the 2021 take. Hunters last year attributed the low numbers in part to warm weather and an abundance of acorns — a combination which left little need for deer to move around to find shelter or food.

This year, Mr. Roden-Reynolds said the weather is more beneficial to hunting, adding that he and other hunters have experienced success so far this season. Additionally, the state removed a cap on the number of deer permits that may be allocated for the 2022 season in an effort to control a burgeoning deer population.

“I’m right along with the hunters who have had good luck,” Mr. Roden-Reynolds said. “I’ve actually got a deer in the locker right now.”

Mr. Roden-Reynolds also stressed the importance of the food equity program, which provides venison to combat food insecurity on the Island. He said just two deer have been donated thus far.

“That number usually picks up later in the season,” he said. “We’re expecting more donations later in the season.”