The January deer hunt at the Calverton Enterprise Park was a resounding success, hunters and officials agreed.
The month-long hunt drew 75 shotgun hunters who took about 50 deer.
Another hunt is in the works for fall and Town Councilman George Gabrielsen wants to organize a turkey hunt as well.
The hunt was planned in part to help thin the herd at the former Grumman naval plant property, which totals about 2,900 acres. Mr. Gabrielsen’s brother Tom, who took part in the hunt, said the deer appeared healthier than they had during another hunt 10 years ago, but still they were about 20 percent underweight.
He said he hoped this and future hunts will help the herd return to full health.
“I’ll help the DEC any way I can to bring them up to normal,” he said. “But back 10 years ago, I would say they were about 50 percent underweight. You could see their ribs. We didn’t see any of that.”
“It was a good turnout,” said Councilman Gabrielsen, who helped organize the hunt. “These people were just thrilled. A lot of the guys brought out their sons; it had a real family outing feel to it, too. We’re absolutely going to open it up to bow hunting in the fall; I think there are about two to three times the amount of bow hunters than shotgun hunters.
“But you had to see the amount of turkeys out there,” he continued. “I couldn’t believe it.”
The councilman said he was talking with the state Department of Conservation to approve deer and turkey hunts in Calverton later this year and the DEC appears to be on board.
“We would be happy to assist the town with any type of hunting activities they may plan in the future, whether that’s deer, small game or birds,” said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda. He said a fall turkey season would be open to both shotgun and bow hunters.
Conservation officers patrolled the Calverton property throughout the hunt and found no problems, according to Mr. Fonda.
Mr. Gabrielsen said a lot of volunteers helped make January’s hunt a success, including one Jamesport resident who plowed an access road that led to the hunting grounds.
The hunters, Riverhead residents chosen by lottery, did not pay a fee but voluntarily donated just under $300 as a group to the Riverhead animal shelter. “It was a good cause that way, kind of a win-win,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.
“Everyone who went in there had a good time,” he said. “It’s a nice, big area so people were not on top of each other.”
He said hunters had spotted an albino deer, which is “pretty rare.”