State’s shotgun season is here, watch out for deer ... hunters
While muzzleloader season is over, bow hunting is permitted throughout the entire season, and a window for shotguns opens next week.
The only public land on Conanicut Island that deer hunting is permitted is Beavertail, and only archery is permitted there. All other hunting takes place on private property with the permission of the landowners. In order to hunt at Beavertail, a special permit is required. The permit can be obtained at the Jamestown Police Department, and only 10 hunters a day are permitted.
Hunting in Rhode Island is administered by the state Department of Environmental Management. Hunters are required to get a license and pass a hunting safety course. Bow and crossbow hunters must also pass a proficiency test. Once those steps are accomplished, hunters may purchase tags from the DEM. The tags must be attached to deer when they’re taken, according to established quotas.
According to Dick Rembijas, a Jamestown resident who hunts deer on private property throughout the island, hunters are allowed to take a total of nine deer in Jamestown, three for each weapon used. Rembijas, who uses all three weapons, said the early season wasn’t successful for him.
“It’s been a really warm year and I haven’t been out there that much,” Rembijas said last month.
But he said with muzzleloader or shotgun, he hopes to get luckier. “It’s really easy to get them with a tool like that. It’s a lot harder with a bow.”
Rembijas said he hunts for both the sport and the food.
“We don’t waste anything,” he said. “It’s all put to good use.”
Rembijas estimated that approximately 100 people hunt regularly on Conanicut Island in different seasons. He said that he felt the current quota on the island, which has been increased over the years, is fair. He believes the reason is the ongoing problem with regard to the burgeoning deer population and the spread of tick-borne diseases.
“The quota was maybe half of what it is now,” Rembijas said. “I think that all has to do with the deer tick problem.’
Robb Roach of Kettlebottom Outfitters is an avid hunter and fisherman. He had more luck than Rembijas early in the season: He took a buck with his bow. Roach uses all of the permitted weapons for hunting, including a crossbow. He pointed out that the crossbow falls under the gun laws, which means that a hunter must be at least 500 feet from the nearest house when discharging his weapon.
“During the bow season, I use both crossbow and compound bow depending on which property I’m hunting,” Roach said.
Roach said that he hunts in a variety of places, both on and off the island. He got the buck in just his second outing of the season. “I’ve seen a lot of deer this year,” Roach said. “The population is definitely strong.”
Roach, who also hunts during the goose and duck seasons, said that he enjoys hunting because it gives him a chance to relax without the pressures of his everyday work. He also enjoys seeing a wide variety of wildlife while he’s out hunting.
“In the afternoon the crows put on an awesome show,” said Roach. “I’ve seen hawks. I’ve seen barn owls. I’ve seen lots of squirrels and some coyotes. When you get up there in your camouflage, especially during bow season, you can see so many things. The number of birds you see – the thrushes and the woodpeckers – is awesome. The hawks will land right next to you.”
Roach said that while he has seen some regulars out hunting, typically he doesn’t see other deer hunters when he’s out.
According to Roach, there is currently some concern over coyotes and the damage they are doing to the deer population in some areas. He said the problem is not as bad in Jamestown for a variety of reason.
“We definitely had a warm winter,” Roach said. “The acorns were almost nonexistent last year because they got blown off by a storm. That hurt them a little bit, but for the ones that survived, the benefit was that we had a very mild winter and an early spring so there was a lot of food for them.”
Roach said that because of the warm temperatures, there was plenty of forage for the deer. When there is forage, most of the mothers bear twins. The result is the increase that is being seen in the local deer population.
Despite the increase in deer, Roach said that the state is doing its best to deal with the issue.
“I think the DEM is being very aggressive,” Roach said. “They’re doing what they can. I think that landowners need to be more open to letting me hunt on their properties.”