If you’re a hunter in Maine, this may be the best time of year. Today alone, for instance, could be hunting ducks, or deer, or moose or grouse or woodcock … and that’s just a start.
With all those seasons running concurrently, there are a few things to be aware of, however. On Friday I spoke with Game Warden Jim Fahey, who called with several pieces of information he wanted me pass along to hunters.
When hunters have so many options, wardens have plenty of enforcement duties to take care of, and Fahey thought there were a few situations that might confuse hunters during this busy time.
Here, then, are a few things to think about:
ä When in doubt, go with orange. Due to the late second session of moose season this year, there’s a potential problem brewing that will only exist for one day … today.
Fahey apologizes for not getting the word out sooner … as do I.
“Anyone hunting with a firearm in a moose-hunting zone, regardless of what species they’re going after, is required to wear one item of blaze orange,” Fahey said.
The problem exists in Wildlife Management District 17, where hunters could feasibly be hunting both moose and wild turkeys today. There is no moose hunting allowed in the other zones that will be open for the first day of the fall turkey hunting season, which begins today.
Moose hunters are used to wearing orange. Turkey hunters typically wear lots of camouflage … and no orange.
“On this end of [WMD] 17 [near Bangor] there’s really not much moose hunting, but on the other end, toward Bingham, there’s certainly turkeys and they do have moose-hunting,” Fahey explained.
While shotgun turkey hunters may be vying for space in the woods with bow hunters from Monday through Friday, when the six-day turkey season ends, they will not be required to wear orange on those days.
ä No does for most bows. In past years, bow hunters have been allowed to harvest a deer of either sex during the regular archery season, which runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31 this year.
Due to last year’s harsh winter and the affect it had on the deer herd, that’s no longer the case.
“Archery hunters hunting during the regular archery season on deer can not take an antlerless deer if they are hunting in a Wildlife Management District that did not issue any doe permits for the regular firearms season,” Fahey said.
The state rulebook has conflicting explanations of that rule on separate pages, Fahey said, which has added to the confusion.
It’s important that bow hunters realize that this year, most of the state’s WMDs no longer allow shooting of antlerless deer during the firearms season … thus, bow hunters are obliged to follow the same rule.
• Youths still get exemption. Fahey said the new archery law on does has raised an-other question from hunters who take their children afield for Youth Deer Day.
“[People are asking] does this affect youth deer hunters in northern and Down East Maine where no doe permits were issued?” Fahey said. “The answer to that is, ‘It does not affect youth hunters on Youth Deer Day. They may take either sex, statewide.’”
• Woodcock are migratory, but not waterfowl. With all the questions he had been fielding, Fahey decided to call Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife headquarters in Augusta and ask if they had been fielding queries they wanted to clear up.
He found one that crops up each year.
The question: Do hunters need a migratory waterfowl stamp in order to hunt woodcock?
“They are migratory, but they obviously are not water-fowl,” Fahey said. “So people do not need state or federal stamps to hunt woodcock. They do have to have their shotgun plugged to accept no more than three shells, however.”
• Don’t place feed. Over the past several years hunters have read advertisements in national publications touting the effectiveness of mineral supplements that attract deer.
More recently, those supplements have become available at stores across the state.
Fahey cautioned, however, that using those products during hunting seasons is not allowed.
“You may not place foods attractive to deer during any season on deer,” Fahey said, pointing out that placing mineral attractants before the deer season and hunting over the site where the attractant was placed also violates the law.
More on hunting safety
While much of the hunter safety curriculum deals with teaching conduct that can help keep humans safer in the woods, there’s another issue that deserves mention.
I recently received an e-mail from a reader who lost a be-loved family pet after a hunter shot and killed her English setter.
The reader says the hunter thought the dog was a coyote.
Hunters are clearly instructed to know exactly what they’re shooting at, and to know what lies in front of, and beyond, their target.
The point of this story is this: Every canine you see in the Maine woods is not a coyote. Especially now, during bird-hunting season, it’s likely that the canine you see is a setter or a pointer or a spaniel.
Being a dog-owner myself, I understand how devastating it would be to lose your four-legged pal to the hands of a careless hunter.
And as a hunter, I think it’s important that we realize that not all hunting tragedies involve human victims.
Just a bit of food for thought on a Saturday morning.
Youth breakfast planned
If you’re planning on heading into the woods on Youth Deer Day, you might as well introduce your young hunting partner to one of the sport’s top traditions: A hunter’s breakfast.
The folks at VFW Post 9389 in Caribou have one planned for Oct. 25 that fills the bill.
The feed will take place from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m., and the cost is $6 for adults, just $3 for children under 12. The VFW hall is located on Route 1 just north of Cary Medical Center.
For more information call 489-2761.
Fly tiers wanted
So, you’re a fly fisher looking for a place to spend a bit of time with like-minded individuals as the days get shorter and the temps continue to drop.
The folks up at the University of Maine may have an option for you.
A group of fly tiers is meeting weekly on Wednesdays in Room 204 of Nutting Hall.
Organizers say anyone who is interested in tying, watching, teaching, or just hanging out and enjoying good conversation is invited.
There’s only one catch: You’ve got to bring your own supplies and equipment.
The group meets at 4:30 each Wednesday, and will tie until … well … whenever.
Sounds like a fun time.