Keep the Punkhorn Safe!

We just heard from one of our on-line friends that the Brewster Conservation Commission and the Brewster Sportsman’s Committee have a proposal in the works to legalize hunting in the Punkhorn Parklands. Hunting hasn’t been permitted since the conservation area was created in the 80’s and has made the Parklands a special place for outdoor recreation, wildlife and naturalist wanderings. The next public hearing for the committees will be on 6 October at 7:00pm at the Brewster Town Hall. We hope you’ll stop by or contact the Conservation Commission directly to let them know what increased hunting will do to the Punkhorn.


  1. avatar
    Geof Newton

    In reply to some of the criticisms about this blog entry as posted on the CCAC shoutbox:
    As an athlete and naturalist, personally, I’m against hunting as a sport but fully support hunting as a food source.
    Objectively, I’m against hunting on Cape Cod due to the high population density, consisting largely of recreational visitors and retirees, and relative lack of large tracts of land well removed from human habitation. Perhaps the one exception to the latter is the Mass Military Reservation. The number of people around unaccustomed to dealing with or not expecting to bump into seasonal hunting, the many local retirees walking dogs and families going for walks in the woods, and local hunters all squeezed into a confined area make for a potentially volatile mix.
    Running the trails should be a relaxing time when we can focus on our training rather than worrying about being shot at around the next corner … and I’ve had enough encounters with hunters encroaching on Nickerson State Park with coolers of beer to not be very concerned about getting an arrow or bullet through the arm or leg.

  2. avatar

    This Editorial appeared in The Cape Codder on October 9, 2009. screams for rebuttal- so, here goes. The original article appears in quotes, with my responses following:

    ‘Deer hunting in the Punkland Parklands in Brewster was tabled for the time being last week after a public hearing that drew 35 interested residents.’

    Interested? More like concerned, frightened, surprised, upset, worried, confused, angry.

    ‘The proposal, carefully crafted by the sportsmens committee appointed by selectmen earlier this year, would have allowed deer hunting only with bow and arrow and primitive firearms. The hunting area was restricted to only part of the Punkhorns 800 acres. The Punkhorn conservation area was never designated no-hunting when it was established by vote of town meeting several years ago, but each year, the conservation commission puts in this rule.’

    So, doesnt that mean that every year since its inception that it has, in fact, effectively been designated no-hunting? Every year, since its inception, hunting has not been allowed in the Punkhorn. Hmmm. I wonder why?

    ‘Residents at the public hearing raised safety concerns if hunting was permitted, although a non-hunter has never been injured or killed in Massachusetts.’

    Perhaps because non-hunters avoid entering known hunting areas during hunting season? So, only hunters get shot and/or killed by hunters in Massachusetts. Thats not a problem?

    ‘Hunters would have been restricted to tree stands, so they would fire down on the deer, lessening the chance of an errant bullet or arrow flying through the woods.’

    Lessening, not eliminating. Who is going to be out there making sure they stay up in the trees? Oh, the other hunters? But wont they be up in their own trees?

    ‘Hunting itself was characterized as killing and not a sport. The truth is, if you eat meat, someone else does your killing. Isnt fishing hunting?’

    Um, what does this have to do with anything? No one is trying to ban all hunting everywhere. We just dont want legalized hunting in the Punkhorn. Try to stay focused. (And no, fishing is not hunting. Fishing is fishing. Glad I could clear that up for you.)

    ‘We all pay taxes on our public lands and it is up to the citizenry to decide how best to use them, but why should certain groups be excluded from using that land?’

    Exactly!! I couldnt agree with you more! Lets allow the citizenry to decide, instead of a few hunters and the Conservation Commission. Lets put this issue before the all the citizens of Brewster and let everyone vote! Great idea! I would hate to see all the hikers, joggers, dog walkers, birdwatchers, horseback riders, kayakers, canoers, cross country skiers, snowshoers, geocahcers (Im sure I am leaving someone out) that recreate in the Punkhorn every day, all year round, be excluded from using that land, and they will be, if hunting is allowed out there. All of those other activities can peacefully co-exist, but throw a few guys with weapons out there, and everyone else has to go home.

    ‘The Pittman-Robertson Act of 1931, which taxes manufacturers of sporting firearms, ammunition and archery 11 percent, funds wildlife conservation programs throughout the United States.’

    As well they should, since they are the ones killing the wildlife.

    ‘More than $3.6 billion has been directed to state wildlife agencies thanks to the sport of hunting.’


    ‘Another 10 percent tax finances hunter education programs.’

    Perhaps they should consider spending more in this area? (The following nationwide sample of headlines comes from the website All are from November of this year. 8 year old shot in hunting accident, 17 year old shot in hunting accident, 15 year old shot in face, Boy, 12, injured in hunting accident on Thanksgiving, Hunter arrested after he shoots another hunter, Violent hunter shoots two over bear hunting dispute, Hunter shot after being mistaken for deer Mother, child (and horse) SHOT in deer hunting accident, Son accidentally shoots father in hunting accident. This is just a partial list, between Nov 22 and Nov 28 of this year.)

    ‘Studies funded through this act also found biodiversity improved when hunting was permitted. Habitat overrun with deer hurt food supplies for other wildlife.’

    I would love to see the statistical evidence suggesting the Punkhorn is overrun with deer. I would even settle for anecdotal evidence. But there is none, because the Punkhorn is not overrun with deer!

    ‘The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife estimates there are from 85,000 to 95,000 deer in Massachusetts, one of the most densely populated states.’

    Again, please, focus. We are not talking about hunting in Massachusetts, or even hunting on Cape Cod. These statewide numbers are meaningless in this case. We are talking about hunting in the Punkhorn, a conservation area enjoyed year round by many, many Brewster and Cape Cod residents and visitors.

    ‘Too many deer cause property damage, road collisions and they carry ticks that cause Lyme disease.’

    How many deer live in the Punkhorn? Too many? How many is too many? Who says how many is too many? My dog carries ticks. Did you want to shoot him, too?

    Since deer population growth rates can exceed 30 percent annually, hunters provide a unique service in helping us achieve our population density goals, the agency states on its Web site.’

    More meaningless statistics. Does the deer population in the Punkhorn grow by upwards of 30 % annually? I doubt it, since when they cross over the invisible line from the protected Punkhorn into Harwich where hunting is already allowed, some of them get shot, thanks to the hunters providing this unique service.

    ‘Since we no longer have to forage the woods and fields for our dinner, and farming has declined, hunting has been getting a bad rap. While most hunters no longer subsistence hunt, they do eat what they kill. Most hunters consider their hobby a sport, not for the end result, but for the pursuit of the prey, the tracking, the thrill of the hunt itself. Its a sport that goes back generations, thousands of years.’

    How, exactly, do you track and pursue your prey if you are confined to a tiny platform hidden high above in a tree? Sitting in a tree for hours on end in November or December, freezing your butt off, waiting for some poor testosterone addled rutting buck to wander past your stand so you can kill him from high above? Even if the hormone dazed creature could pay attention to anything other than the next doe, he wouldn’t be checking the trees for any of his natural predators. Sporting? Thrilling? You must be joking.

    ‘While small conservation areas may not be appropriate for hunting, a large forested area like the Punkhorn could safely accommodate hunters, especially the few who hunt deer with a bow and arrow or a black powder musket. These methods of hunting require practiced skill; the hunter gets one shot with a primitive weapon, for example, then must reload another single bullet and the powder before taking aim again.’

    Please, spare me the swill about how much skill it takes to sit in a tree and rain down death from above. I’m not buying what you’re selling. As for whether the Punkhorn can safely accommodate hunters, that is questionable at best. One thing is for sure though; the Punkhorn definitely cannot safely accommodate all the people who spend time there now if hunting is allowed.

    ‘Hunting is not mass killing of wildlife.’

    It is random killing of wildlife.

    ‘It is restricted to a block of time.’

    The block of time called rut, during which the animals faculties are powerfully diminished by the intense hormone driven activities of breeding season.

    ‘A hunter can only harvest two antlered deer (and a doe, by special permit).’

    Only? Three deer per hunter? How many more do they need? All of them?

    ‘Bow hunting and primitive firearms deer hunting seasons are limited. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays.’

    This is all well and good, as long as it is not happening in the Punkhorn.

    ‘Apparently illegal hunting is going on in the Punkhorn. Wouldnt it make more sense and be safer to regulate it according to the sportsmens club proposal?’

    No. No. A thousand times, NO!

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