This year’s deer hunting season was kicked off by The Youth Deer Hunt on September 29th, where kids ages 12-14 could participate with a licensed adult hunter out in various areas of Massachusetts. As of October 1st, junior and adult bow hunters on Nantucket are free to hunt Monday through Saturday, while shotgun hunting is not permitted until December. In regards to location, many hunters on the island remain secretive in an attempt to keep other hunters away from their game, and their stands.
Hunters must go through a long process with many steps in order to insure that they are licensed and participating within local requirements. Each hunter is allowed two bucks and an unlimited amount of does (female deer) as long as they are tagged through Massachusetts Wildlife, the state organization in charge of enforcing and upholding Massachusetts hunting laws. This tagging system allows the state to keep track of what people are hunting and make sure that deer and other game are being killed legally.
Students at Nantucket High School also join in on this winter time event. Senior Grace Shannon has been hunting since she was 11, starting off with a compound bow, and eventually learning how to safely operate a shotgun. Shannon usually goes out with friends and family and prefers the bow over the shotgun. Shannon hunts because she, “love[s] the art of it. Being able to use skills to track deer and other animals gets my adrenaline pumping and makes me excited.” Evan Belanger, a freshman at NHS, is also an avid hunter. He and his dad have been going on hunting trips since the age of 6 and have made it an annual event. Hunting proves to be a great way for many parents and kids to spend quality time especially since many deer hunts can last hours. Evan commented, “It’s really exhilarating when a deer comes right up close to you. Sometimes, though, you won’t see deer and it can get boring but I just enjoy being outdoors and knowing that I have the capability to provide for my family.” Hunting is usually passed down between generations, as families bring their kids as they get older.
Hunting has become more controversial over the years. With groups of animal activists growing nationally, hunting has received a significant amount of backlash. Some argue that it is inhumane to go out and kill animals in the wild for sport but that does not stop the locals on Nantucket. Shannon also argues, “Sure, it’s been tough for me at times to kill animals but I think people need to understand that we all live different lifestyles and I prefer to put meat on the table that I killed, all I ask is that people respect that.” Deer hunting helps control the large deer population in Massachusetts which largely contributes to car accidents, and increased tick populations. If you want to learn more about how to learn your hunting license or the regulations involved, you can visit Mass.gov at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
By Anna Steadman