On The Ridge with Joe Judd: Plenty of activities to keep you busy during the winter months

Published: 02-07-2024 4:32 PM

As I write this, we’re in February’s grip, but there’s a lot going on out there that can help keep your mind off the Arctic-like temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately.

As you read this, the days are getting longer, the temperatures are climbing, at least for now, and the woodchuck did not see his shadow! And if you believe in the woodchuck, spring will be here soon, and we’ll be seriously thinking about chasing Big Bird again!

That aside, it’s still February, and there’s a bunch of things happening as we slowly move forward. There’s lots of hunting still to be done during the “Valentine’s Day” month, and there’s ice-fishing to enjoy just about everywhere you go. Just stay safe on the ice!

If you’re a deer hunter, it’s an excellent time for scouting, as sign is simply everywhere. And where you’re finding deer beds and trails now, there’s an excellent chance whitetail will be in the same places come autumn.

There’s plenty more going on as well, inside things like on-line and in person seminars, and hands-on clinics that always have great stuff for everyone to learn. So here we go, with some cool February and March happenings that will help you get through these Hyperborean days of February.

February 12: Mentoring Mondays: Hunting and Fishing Q&A, virtual – Get answers to your hunting and fishing questions during virtual mentoring sessions on the second Monday of the month. A panel of expert hunters and anglers will start each event with a brief presentation on a featured topic, then participants can ask questions about anything related to hunting or fishing in Massachusetts. February’s featured topics are winter scouting and ice fishing. This event takes place via Zoom from 6-7 p.m. Registration is required, and you can find out more about this by visiting the MassWildlife website to register.

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February 27 and 29: Beginner Fly Tying Class, Belchertown – Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course. This class will be held at Mass Wildlife’s Connecticut Valley District Office (341 East Street, Belchertown) from 6-8 p.m. All tools and tying materials will be provided. This class is open to the public, for beginning fly tyers only, minimum age is 15, but pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Jim Lagacy to register at: jim.lagacy@mass.gov or call 508-389-6309.

March 3: Massachusetts Predators of the Past and Present, Belchertown – Learn about predators, like wolves and mountain lions, which have not had established populations in Massachusetts since the mid-1800s. Yet other predators, like coyotes, fisher cats, and bobcats, can now be commonly found across the state. Join this talk with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife from 2-3 p.m. at the Les and Terry Campbell Quabbin Visitor Center (100 Winsor Dam Rd, Belchertown) or virtually to learn more about the presence of predators in the Commonwealth and how to coexist with them today. This program is a part of DCR’s Winter Presentation Series and registration is required. Go to the MassWildlife website to sign up for this impressive program.

March 5 and 7: Beginner Fly Tying Class, Cheshire – Another great learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands on, two-session course. This class will be held at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club (310 Curran Road, Cheshire) from 6-8 p.m. All tools and tying materials will be provided. The class is open to the public, but for beginning fly tyers only, minimum age is 15, and pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Jim Legacy to register at: jim.legacy@mass.gov or call 508-389-6309.

March 10: Turkey Call Seminar, Westborough – Join MassWildlife and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for a three-hour class to learn all about turkey calling. The class is from 9 a.m.-noon at MassWildlife Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Rd., Westborough). Learn turkey hunting tips and calling techniques from experienced hunters. Space is limited, so visit MassWildlife’s website to register today. Also, NWTF’s Massachusetts State Turkey Calling Championships will be held at noon, directly after the seminar. Participants are welcomed to stay for the contest, enjoy some pizza, and listen to some great turkey calling!

March 11: Mentoring Mondays: Hunting and Fishing Q&A, virtual – This is another great virtual mentoring session that’s held on the second Monday of the month! A panel of expert hunters and anglers will start each event with a brief presentation on a featured topic, then participants can ask questions about anything related to hunting and fishing in Massachusetts. March’s featured topic is turkey calling. This event takes place via Zoom from 6-7 p.m. Registration is required, and you can find out more by visiting the MassWildlife website to register. And if you’re turkey hunter, you don’t want to miss this class!

Joe Judd is a lifelong hunter and sportsman. He is an outdoor writer, seminar speaker, member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association, and a 2019 inductee into the N.E. Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Joe is also on the Quaker Boy Game Calls and Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Pro-Staff. He can be reached at jjontheridge@comcast.net