DTF hopes to establish junior hunting week

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 9:30am

The Deer Task Force is researching the possibility of scheduling a week of hunting especially for island youths who are interested in the sport. 

In Rhode Island, anyone under the age of 18 can be issued either a junior hunting license (ages 12-14) or a resident hunting license (age 15), but also must be accompanied by an adult (at least 21) when hunting. 

“We keep trying to get the kids involved in some of this stuff,” said island resident Chris Blane, who is an avid hunter. “And they can’t because of school and other activities.”

“We try to do the right thing, and be respectful, but at some point we need to give these kids an opportunity to hunt,” said Deer Task Force member Paul Deane, also a hunter.

Member Dick Stinson said any island youth who does hunt has already gone through the necessary training, and to him it made sense to offer a week devoted to young hunters.

“We could do what other states do and have kids’ days,” said DTF Chair Heather Hatfield. 

DTF Clerk Bonnie Ryan said she would call the Department of Environmental Management, which owns the deer herd on the island, to see what the process was in setting up a block of days specifically for youth hunting. The members of the DTF thought the week of school vacation in February would work best.

Blane, who was in attendance at the meeting, also suggested a later start for the firearm deer hunting season, which now begins on Nov. 1 (archery season begins on the same date). Blane recommended starting the firearm season on Dec. 1.

Deane said he would rather keep the dates the same, but Blane countered by saying, “We don’t want to see another 1,000 deer out here.” 

“You’re not going to see another 1,000 deer out here,” said Deane. 

The primary focus of the Deer Task Force for the past several years has been herd maintenance after it was discovered the deer population on the island had surged to more than 1,000 individuals. The DTF has initiated several measures, including a program that rewarded island hunters with $150 for every registered deer tail, to lower the count.

One of the reasons Blane recommended starting the deer season later than November was because there seemed to be more people living or visiting the island during that month.

“Shortening the season could go a long ways towards good will,” said Blane, referencing residents who may be annoyed by hunting in November.

Hatfield then asked if anyone was hearing complaints about the hunting season starting in November. “I’m not hearing a lot of conflict,” she said. “Am I missing something?”

“We’ve had no complaints,” said Deane. 

“Do we need to post more?” asked Hatfield. Deane reiterated that there have been no complaints about the firearm season starting on Nov. 1. 

The DTF also picked up two new members at its most recent meeting. Blane and island resident John Fournier were in attendance, and when asked if they’d like to serve on the group, both said they would submit a letter to the Town Council expressing their interest.