News from the outdoors


Hopkins Forest welcomes deer hunters

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. >> Hopkins Memorial Forest in Williamstown will again be open to deer hunting by special permit during the 12-day shotgun season this fall. The 2016 Massachusetts deer shotgun season runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 10, excluding Sunday, Dec. 4, and a limited number of complimentary permits will be issued to hunters from local communities.

Applications, which can be obtained from the Center for Environmental Studies at Williams College, are due back to the Center by Nov. 1. They will be evaluated on a first-come, first served basis and permits will be issued to selected hunters by mid-November.

Annually, 75 to 100 hunters are awarded permits to hunt in this research and teaching forest owned by Williams College, which closes the forest to other users during the hunt. Hunter surveys from recent seasons indicate that typically five to ten deer are harvested from the area each year. Such reductions in the herd help to minimize browse damage to the forest's understory and herb layer and protect ecological research areas. Due to possible conflicts with other forest uses, no other hunting, aside from the 12-day deer shotgun season, is allowed in Hopkins Forest.

The College gives preference in awarding permits to its neighbors; although, in the past, hunters have come from across the state to hunt the forest's rugged terrain. Hunters may obtain a no-fee permit application by contacting the Center for Environmental Studies, 55 Mission Park Drive, Williamstown, Mas. 01267, (413) 597-2346, or by e-mailing

Vermont Foliage Report: Excellent colors emerging in north, state on track for colorful October

MONTPELIER >> After prolonged warmer conditions during much of September, the first frosts have settled in the cold hollows throughout Vermont, triggering the next phase of increased color vibrancy. Excellent colors are now emerging in the north, at higher elevations along the spine of the Green Mountains, and throughout the state in isolated pockets, especially those associated with wetlands.

Statewide, foresters estimate conditions are at 30-40 percent of full peak color. With forecasts for cooler air and showers continuing in much of the state this week, we are already seeing an increase in both the proportion of leaves changing colors and the intensity and brightness of those colors.

We expect all parts of Vermont to be moving through early color and into mid-season conditions by the weekend, and the state remains on track and well-primed for great color into the early weeks of October.

Suggested Vermont driving routes (north to south):

• Route 5A, from West Charleston through Westmore to West Burke.

• Route 16 from Barton to Westmore.

• Route 111 or 105 through Island Pond.

• Route 5 south from Barton to Orleans, then Route 58 to Irasburg.

• From Lowell, Route 100 south to Route 118 in Eden, then north to Montgomery.

• Route 242 from Montgomery to Jay.

Sign up for the Vermont Foliage Report at

West Mountain Shooting Range opens to the public

FERDINAND >> The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says a newly developed West Mountain Shooting Range in Ferdinand, Vermont, is now open for public use.

Shooters are required to follow all range rules, including hours of operation and the requirement to have a Vermont hunting or fishing license.

The West Mountain Range is the second shooting range developed by the Fish & Wildlife Department to be open for public use. Sited within an existing gravel pit that was already popular for target shooting, this new facility in Essex County meets a need long identified by the department as well as a local conservation group and area hunter education instructors. The range was developed to transform this site into a safe, accessible and environmentally friendly shooting range. Funds for development of the range came through a combination of federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds and state capital funds.

The range includes four shooting lanes with overhead baffles, side berms, a backstop and a small parking area. Targets are movable from 15, 50, 75, and 100 yards. This facility is located 3.2 miles along South America Pond Road, within the West Management Wildlife Management Area.

The West Mountain Shooting Range will be operated Monday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to sunset, April 16 to Dec. 14, unless otherwise posted at the discretion of the Fish & Wildlife Commissioner.

Given the wet and snowy conditions of this region for several months of the year, the range will only be open when South America Pond Road is accessible by motor vehicle.

Before using the range, shooters should review the range rules on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website:

"Vermont has some of the safest and most conservation-minded hunters anywhere," said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. "They need a publicly accessible place where they can sight in their rifles and practice their shooting skills. West Mountain Shooting Range will provide just that, especially for residents of Essex County and adjacent communities."

Get out and enjoy Vermont's fall outdoor recreation

MONTPELIER >> The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (VTFPR) along with the Green Mountain Club encourage Vermonters to get out and enjoy foliage season. As the leaves start to turn and the air grows cooler, hikers are expected hit the trails in great numbers. Peak foliage season means that many people want to get outside.

"We expect this year's foliage to be spectacular," said Michael Snyder, VTFPR commissioner. "The deep reds, bright oranges and yellows will bring people from all over New England, the United States and beyond. Vermont is world famous for our changing leaves."

While many people seek the fantastic views from the state's highest peaks, if you do decide to head to our most popular trails, you will likely to encounter many other people along the way. If that's what you're looking for, then great. If not, there are wonders to be seen on even the shortest walks around leafy village greens or your local town forest. We encourage you to explore a new place this year. Check out Vermont's Trail Finder website ( and find a new, lesser known place to beat the crowds.

No matter where you decide to go, please be considerate. That beautiful dirt road may be the quickest route to your next hiking adventure, but someone else calls it home. Please drive slowly and safely, and obey parking signs. And remember to pack out what you bring in. Hikers are also reminded that clear, cool, and crisp days lead into clear and surprisingly cold nights. If you're venturing into the woods on a hike, be sure to dress appropriately, bring plenty of food and water, and don't forget your headlamp. The days are beautiful, but growing shorter all the time! Now get out and enjoy before you need to trade in leaf-peeping for leaf-raking.

Seminar on hunter access for Vermont landowners

WOODSTOCK >> The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is holding a free seminar for landowners interested in learning more about hunting, wildlife management, and conservation. The seminar is co-hosted by the nonprofit Vermont Coverts.

The seminar will be held on Oct. 16, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Forest Center in Woodstock.

The seminar will feature workshops and presentations by Fish & Wildlife head of law enforcement Colonel Jason Batchelder as well as several department biologists. They will review the rights of landowners and the limits to liability, and talk about who hunts in Vermont and what other recreational uses of private lands take place here. Biologists will also speak about the science of wildlife management, and discuss hunting as a tool for promoting healthy forests.

"This seminar is designed for anyone who wants to learn more about Vermont's hunting culture, and how landowners fit in the picture," said Chris Saunders of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "We'll participate in thoughtful discussion as a group, and address many of the facts and myths about hunting and hunters."

The seminar is free and includes breakfast and lunch. To sign up or ask questions, contact Lisa Sausville at

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request. Please include a description of the accommodation you will need. Individuals making such requests must include their contact information. Please email or call the office staff at 802-828-1000 (voice), 1-800-253-0191 (TTY).


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