Sportsman’s Corner: Orange Gun Club’s Kids Derby

Published: 05-02-2024 3:32 PM

Modified: 05-07-2024 4:35 PM

By Mike Roche

The Orange Gun Club is inviting everyone up to age 14 to participate in the club’s annual Kids Fishing Derby. Located off West River Street in Orange, this is the oldest gun club in Massachusetts and they hold an outstanding event for boys and girls to enjoy with their parent and grandparents every spring. Event chairman Chuck Neveu has again gone all-out to gather donations so every kid that participates will receive a nice prize. Everybody attending also gets free food with hot dogs and cookies being the main attraction. The Orange Gun Club has two trout ponds, and they will both be stocked with some big ones for Sunday’s festivities. Those under the age of 6 will be fishing at one pond and the older kids to age 14 will be fishing at the other pond. Parents with children of both age groups will be able to have both kids fish in the same pond.

The fishing will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 11, followed by the presentation of prizes for all, trophies for the biggest fish caught in each age group, and cash prizes for anyone who catches a tagged trout. The club will provide bait and plenty of volunteers to make the event run smoothly. I strongly recommend that you head over there Sunday morning with any youngster who wants to have a great time catching beautiful trout. Over the years, the Orange Gun Club has made a serious investment and support for this event by creating and maintaining the two ponds and taking care of every detail to make this event fun for kids, parents, grandparents and all who participate.

Massachusetts turkey season got underway Monday morning and the day dawned perfectly. This turkey hunter seems to spend every opening day doing more driving than hunting. My chosen first spot had competition and my relocation found part of the area newly posted since deer season. There was gobbling and the onX Hunt app on my phone showed me off the posted property, but my decision was to do more boundary research and maybe return on another day. onX Hunt is a really helpful app that can immediately provide you with a lot of data on land.

It gives you an aerial image of boundaries and can provide the name of the property owner as well. You can get one state or multiple state packages and I highly recommend you look at loading it on your phone. It once helped me find my way around a huge swamp on my first day at a new property in New York and was very helpful last week on my first hunting trip to Missouri.

That led me to drive to check out places where past hunts have been productive and there were again more new posted signs. The fact is that it is time to reach out to people and locate places where there will not be other hunters. Turkey hunting to me is all about enjoying the sounds of the spring woods and having a chance to “work” a gobbler. Over the years, killing that bird has become secondary and the game of matching wits and using past experiences to call a bird into range.

Monday’s final hunt was an example. Hunting on public land owned by DCR to manage the Quabbin water resources, I saw two mature toms with a hen. Setting up a couple hundred yards away was not easy as my unfamiliarity with the landscape led me to set up in cover thicker than optimum as turkeys like to see all around as they approach. There were gobbling responses and the sounds got closer, but went around me unseen and moved away. Lesson learned!

Tuesday’s thunderstorm led me to turn off the alarm. Although I have heard gobblers loudly answer peals of thunder, at this point of my turkey hunting life it is not worth it, and we slept in for a few hours. Returning to the state land, my Lynch box call yelps at my first setup were answered by at least two hens. Feeling good, my eyes searched the overgrown pasture that now had 10-foot-tall pines looking for the anticipated “parade.” Oftentimes a hen, or hens, will come investigating another hen call and will “drag” a silent tom in who is displaying but not gobbling. There was a regular dialog between me and the ladies, who seemed to join forces, but they did not come in and moved off. A relocation had the same results, and we will never know if there was a tom or toms with them. “Curses, foiled again!”

It appears that the Massachusetts Youth Turkey Hunt – like the ones held in surrounding states – was a resounding success, with young hunters taking advantage of a special day prior to the opening of the regular turkey hunting season to hunt. Massachusetts also has a turkey hunting preparation and special hunt for women as part of the “Becoming an Outdoorswoman” program to introduce women to the sport. If you are a woman who is interested in hunting, both the turkey hunt and a special deer hunt are worth looking into. Kudus to Sasha Ellsworth of Petersham, who is involved in both programs and shared her expertise to help hunters this week.

My search for a dumb turkey will continue. It should come as no surprise with the long run of wet weather that the black flies are now out in numbers. Thank God for masks and ThermaCell when turkey hunting!

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the MaharFish’N Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, former Connecticut Valley District representative on the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board, has been a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at