With each passing day, the deer hunters I know become more and more frustrated. They’re not shooting deer. They’re not seeing deer. Some say they’ve forgotten what deer look like.
OK. Maybe the last part’s not true.
And maybe it’s not true that everyone is frustrated because of the state of the state’s deer herd.
Take last week’s irate anonymous caller, for instance, who essentially blamed the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife for screwing up the tourist industry in Aroostook County.
The caller said droves of hunters decided not to come to Maine because they heard there were no deer. He said the state should be ashamed.
And he said he knows of a northern Maine sporting camp where six hunters bagged big bucks in short order, despite all the doom-and-gloom projections.
As for me, my deer season is progressing infinitely better than last year’s.
Infinitely, because this year I actually saw a deer. A year ago, I saw none.
At least, I think that means this year is infinitely better. Of course, I always got “infinite” and “undefined” mixed up when my math teachers started discussing dividing by zero.
Whatever the case may be, deer season’s been tough on many of us, and this morning, I want to share a couple of short tales that may inspire you to gather up your gear, head out the door, and venture into the deer woods a few more times before the season comes to a close.
Let’s start in Princeton, where Ron Kelley shared a tale of a recent hunting excursion that turned out just fine.
“Thought that you might like to hear from a longtime Washington County deer hunter,” Kelley wrote. “I’ve been beating the bush down here for a long time. This season was the 50th year that I have hunted deer.
“On Veterans Day I was setting in my tree stand when a doe crossed in front of it. I usually see another doe or a fawn, but this year Mr. Horns was behind. I dropped it with a single shot,” he wrote.
“My “Golden Anniversary Buck” field dressed 185 pounds and carried an impressive 11-point rack. It was the best deer I’ve taken in 50 years of hunting. A once in a lifetime whitetail,” he wrote.
Congratulations to Ron, who proves that there are some deer left Down East, for those who are patient enough and lucky enough to find them.
Several years ago I introduced you to Josh Collins of Hudson, who had successfully completed the seasonal “grand slam” of hunting by bagging a moose, a bear, a deer and a turkey in successive seasons.
He was 12 years old at the time.
In 2005, when Collins was 14, he racked up another grand slam.
A couple weeks back, his mom, Stephanie Collins, e-mailed to let me know 17-year-old Josh had enjoyed another productive hunt.
“Here it is 2008 and Josh has once again done something that most hunters only dream of,” she wrote. “Last night he shot a 220-pound, eight-point buck.”
She’s right, I suppose. Most of us hunters probably do dream of eventually seeing a 200-pounder.
Chances are, though, we’ll have to be hunting with someone like Josh to make that dream come true.
Group helps form outing clubs
Over the past decade or so, many of the state’s high schools have put added emphasis on outdoor education programs, and a generation of students have learned to love spending time in Maine’s woods.
Thanks to the “Teens to Trails” program, outdoor recreation will be within reach for many more students, as T3 has teamed with the Horizon Foundation and L.L. Bean to help fund eight high school outing clubs.
According to a Teens to Trails press release, Brunswick High School, Deering High School in Portland, East Grand High School in Danforth, Fort Kent Community High School, the Maine School for Science and Mathematics in Limestone, Monmouth Academy, Thornton Academy in Saco and Yarmouth High School will re-ceive support that will help provide educational opportunities.
Four of the schools launched new outdoor education programs this school year.
The Teens to Trails offers grants to clubs that want to purchase equipment or offset transportation costs or program fees.
Teens to Trails founder Carol Leone said the support network will help her group in its goal to encourage each high school in Maine to sponsor an outing club.
I’ve spoken with several educators, parents and students who have taken part in local outdoor education programs — Brewer High School’s serves as a model for many — and have learned how valuable the programs can be.
Self-esteem grows. Self-imposed barriers vanish. New worlds of recreational options open up.
If you’re an educator interested in learning more about outdoor educational opportunities, I’d recommend it.
And if you’re a student who would like to nudge your school in this direction, rest assured that your voice can make a difference: Many of the schools that have added outing clubs and outdoor recreation classes have done so after student-driven initiatives succeeded.
For more information, check out www.TeensToTrails.org.