A set of bow hunting regulations for a deer management program on public land in Weston, including the naming of five parcels of land where how bunting will be allowed, was approved by the Board of Selectmen at its meeting July 16.
The selectmen previously approved the Conservation Commission’s recommended plan to allow bow hunting of deer on public land in Weston at its June 11 meeting, however had asked at that time that approval be sought on a set of regulations.
“The Board of Selectmen said we wanted specific regulations,” said Michael Harrity, selectmen chairman. “We were concerned with safety and the particulars.”
Conservation Agent Michelle Grzenda said Monday night the regulations drafted for Weston did not go into the details outlined in state laws on bow hunting, which already apply. Bow hunting season, established by the state, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 31, between a half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunset.
“We wanted to lay out specifics to Weston,” she said.
Some of those specifics include where in town designated bow hunting areas on conservation land will be, including Jericho Town Forest, Ogilvie Town Forest, Dickson Field, Blaney Aquifer and the Sears Land.
Bow hunting will be allowed by those who have passed a proficiency test and been issued a permit by the Conservation Commission. Deer hunting will occur from temporary tree stands, which won’t damage trees, Grzenda said. Hunters will also be restricted from hunting within 500 feet of a home (unless a homeowner grants permission for a hunter to be closer) and 150 feet of a road.
Several Weston residents spoke at the meeting, asking questions on how long a deer can live after being shot with an arrow and whether hunters will share stands and hunting areas.
The Conservation Commission will post signs at trails leading into areas where hunting is occurring. Grzenda noted that the state has never had an accident between a bow hunter and a non-hunter. The only reported accidents are of bow hunters who have injured themselves, falling out of tree stands or cutting a finger on a bow, she said. A hunting accident in Norton last year occurred between a hunter with a firearm and a non-hunter, she said.
State Wildlife Deer Project Leader David Stainbrook also noted that if a deer is shot in a target area near the heart and lungs, it should die within 10 seconds.
Conservation Commission Member Brian Donohue said, however, that even with the proficient hunters, not every deer will die that quickly. He also talked about how hunters could use each other’s stands, but each would need his or her own tag, and the hope is that hunters assigned to the five areas would communicate with one another.
Harrity said he’s become convinced that the deer population in Weston is too large and is damaging the ecosystem, and that bow hunting is a safe, cost-effective way to handle the over-population.
“The other thing that has compelled me, it’s probably not nice for a deer to be hit by an arrow,” he said. “But the end of a deer’s life in the wild is difficult… starving, getting hit by a car, coyotes… so their death is not likely to be a very humane one. I wish there were alternatives, but there don’t seem to be any at this point.”
The board voted 3-0 in favor of the bow hunting regulations. Grzenda said the process of testing hunters and granting permits will begin later this summer.
See the complete list of Weston's bow hunting regulations on the town website. It is located under the Conservation Commission's "Deer Hunting Report."