Recently it has seemed that that the state’s young hunters can’t catch a break when it comes to Youth Deer Day. And according to the state’s top deer biologist, it doesn’t look like a skein of poor weather matters a bit to the youngsters who look forward to their own special day in the Maine woods.
“We’ve had a tough time the last three years with Youth Day falling on these days when had these weird, really windy fronts coming through, with rain,” said Lee Kantar of the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
Kantar spent his Youth Deer Day — Saturday, one week before the residents-only opener of the firearms season on deer — at Bob’s Kozy Korner, a store and tagging station in Orrington.
Kantar said he saw plenty of eager hunters, and despite cold, rainy weather, many had successful outings with their adult mentors.
“I think I checked 13 deer. I’d have to look back to see how that compares, but that seems to me, pretty good,” Kantar said. “Of course, for this neck of the woods, I’ve got a pretty good deer area.”
Kantar said he saw more adult deer than fawns, and saw a couple of nice bucks tagged. One was a 10-pointer that weighed about 160 pounds.
Kantar said the weather was unpredictable, and may not have been as unfavorable for hunting as some expected it to be.
“My expectation was that the day was fine enough in the morning, although rainy, and the winds hadn’t kicked up yet,” Kantar said. “So in the morning I thought I’d get some kids in, and I did.”
Kantar said he checked out about nine deer before lunch, then had a slow afternoon.
“I was getting ready to go [in the evening] … and I had several deer coming in in a row,” he said.
Kantar said that even when the weather turned sour, there were times when it wasn’t so bad.
“The wind was starting to stir up in the later part of the day and I noticed that the rain was off and on,” he said. “There were times when it was steady and times when it wasn’t.
Despite the sloppy weather and intermittent winds, Kantar did get the chance to watch the reactions of several excited young hunters.
“They got out there [despite the weather],” Kantar said. “I saw one really happy kid and his father. He was just jumping out of his skin. It was his first deer. Pretty exciting.”
The story was far different in northern Maine, where the deer herd has been devastated by two straight harsh winters.
Due in part to those winters, the DIF&W did not allow Youth Deer Day participants to shoot antlerless deer in Wildlife Management Districts that forbid the practice during the regular firearms season.
In past years, youths had that option.
Kantar said five tagging stations in Aroostook County — in Presque Isle, New Limerick, Ashland, New Sweden and Monticello — tagged only one deer between them.
That deer was a three-point buck.
“Of course, it’s a big change up there for them, this either-sex [option being eliminated],” Kantar said.
Kantar explained that in the 18 Wildlife Management Districts that were bucks-only in 2008, does and fawns were harvested at a far higher rate than bucks were on that year’s Youth Deer Day. The state is divided into 29 WMDs.
In those districts, which encompass the northern, Moosehead Lake and Down East sections of the state, a total of 40 adult male deer were shot by Youth Deer Day hunters in 2008. By comparison, those hunters tagged 111 does and 59 fawns on the same day.
More hunter’s breakfasts
On Saturday, I provided a list of hunter’s breakfasts in our readership area.
And on Sunday (as expected) I began hearing from folks who hadn’t seen their breakfasts in the list.
Because hungry hunters are never fun to deal with, here are a couple more meals to put on your calendar:
ä In Dixmont, the Dixmont Gold Crest Riders Snowmobile Club will hold its annual breakfast from 4:30-8:30 a.m. on Nov. 7 at the clubhouse on Cates Road. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children under 12.
ä In Garland, a hunter’s supper will be held from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the grange hall. The price is $6 for adults, $3 for those age 5-12, and kids under 5 eat free. A family rate are also available.
And finally, a correction: In Saturday’s listing, I told you a hunter’s breakfast in St. Albans was taking place this Friday. It’s not.
As I’m sure more than a few readers noticed, a Friday hunter’s breakfast would be missing the whole point … since hunting season doesn’t begin until Saturday.
The Hartland-St. Albans Lions Club will, indeed, be hosting their breakfast on Saturday, from 4-8 a.m. at the Grace Lynn Methodist Church. The price is $5 per person.