Opening day for many eager deer hunters isn’t for another week, which means we have seven more days to plan. Seven more days to plot. In a nutshell, we’ve got just seven more days to formulate a game plan for the early hours of Nov. 1.
Two helpings of eggs? Three? Beans or no beans? Ham? Bacon? Sausage? Pancakes? All of the above?
The choices are endless … and here you were, thinking I was talking about planning and plotting hunting tactics.
Seven more days … for some of us. For hundreds of other lucky hunters, those decisions can’t wait.
Today is their opening day, after all. Today is the day they’ve been awaiting. And as you’d expect, a few civic organizations have put together hunter’s breakfasts worthy of such a special occasion.
Today, after all, is Youth Deer Day.
And all across the state, young hunters between the age of 10 and 16 will head afield with adult supervision.
Maine began its youth day tradition back in 2002, and since then young hunters have been able to enjoy a special day of hunting a week before the traditional firearms opening day.
A junior hunting license is required, and hunters have the option of shooting a deer of either sex.
The accompanying adult must either be a parent or guardian or must have a valid hunting license and have completed a hunter safety course. Adults aren’t allowed to possess a firearm while hunting with a child on Youth Deer Day.
But the actual hunting is only part of the reason many people look forward to opening day. There’s the ride to the woods … the stories you’ll tell … and the huge breakfast you’ll eat, just to get ready.
For the past several weeks, I’ve been asking readers to let me know about hunter’s meals in their areas. I’ve received a lot of input, and appreciate all of it.
Some of the meals are old. Others newer. And all, I figure, are worth checking out.
Alas, there’s too much food … not enough time.
Here, nonetheless, is the complete list (as far as we’ve been told thus far). The meals are organized by date, with today’s feasts first, and upcoming meals to follow. Check the bold headings above each group of meals closely … I’d hate to have you go hungry because you went to the right place at the wrong time.
Today’s options: Let’s start up north in Caribou, where you can head to the VFW hall on U.S. Route 1, just north of Cary Medical Center, for a feed that will last from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m. The menu includes eggs to order, sausage, baked beans and pancakes. Adults pay $6 and children under 12 pay $3.
• If you’re a Penobscot Valley resident, you may want to head to East Orrington Congregational Church on Johnson Mill Road. Boy Scout Troop 44 will put on a feed from 5 a.m. until 9 a.m. that will cost you $5 a head.
On opening day, opportunities abound: If the traditional opening day — Nov. 1, this year — is the day you like to fill up at a hunter’s breakfast, have I got a deal for you. Actually, I have seven deals for you.
And chances are good you’ll find someplace to eat, no matter where you live or hunt.
• In Bangor, folks will flock to the 10th annual Clarence Brown Young Hunter’s Breakfast at the Elks Club on Odlin Road. This feed is unique, in that everyone eats for free. Honest. Donations for Maine’s Youth Fish & Game Association are accepted, however, and hunters would be well advised to open their pockets in order to help the state’s youngsters take advantage of MYFGA’s programs. The breakfast runs from 4-8 a.m. and the top door prize is a rifle for a hunter age 17 or younger.
• In Old Town it’s a time-honored tradition to eat out-doors on opening day. The Old Town Rotary Club hosts the event, which they bill as the longest-running continuous outdoor breakfast in the state. This is the 58th year of the event, which runs from 4-8 a.m. at Riverfront Park. And if you’re concerned about the weather, don’t be: Organizers always provide a tent for the not-so-hardy.
• In Presque Isle, the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club also knows a bit about longevity and tradition. The club will host its 61st straight hunter’s breakfast from 4-8 a.m. Door prizes abound and a .30-06 rifle and $200 in gas will be raffled.
• In Hermon, the Class of 2009 will hold a breakfast from 5-10 a.m. to benefit Project Graduation. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.
• At Sandy Point Community Hall, Stockton Springs American Legion Post 157 will hold a breakfast from 4-8 a.m. Adults can fuel up for $5, while children under 12 pay just $2.
• Over in Corinth, where veteran observers always tell me (after the season, of course) the deer are plentiful, the Powerline Prowlers Snowmobile Club will feed the masses. Adults pay $6, while children under 12 pay $4.
• And in Hudson, the Pushaw Lake Snowmobile Club will offer a feed from 4-9 a.m. at the clubhouse on Whitmore Landing Road. The meal will set you back just $5, and who knows? You might be the lucky winner in the chainsaw raffle, which will be drawn at 8 a.m.
Coming attractions: I know. I know. Too much food, with not enough time to eat it all. Don’t despair: Some clubs aren’t holding their breakfasts on opening day, which means you can fill ’er up more than once, should you choose.
• The Dixmont Gold Crest Riders Snowmobile Club holds a breakfast at the clubhouse from 4-8:30 a.m. at the clubhouse on Cates Road. The menu is traditional, but one item stands out: Homemade doughnuts. Mmm. Homemade doughnuts. Adults eat for $6, kids under 12 pay $4.
• In Etna, the Etna Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary will hold a hunters and community breakfast on Nov. 8 from 4:30-9 a.m. Kids under 12 eat free. The rest of us pay $5.
ä In Winterport, the folks at Ellingwoods Corner United Methodist Church will hold a breakfast from 4-9 a.m. on Nov. 8. All you can eat for $5, $3 for children.
• The Eddington Salmon Club will hold its annual feed on Nov. 8, and it’s a good chance that a Ruhlin or two will be cooking. That’s a good thing. Trust me. The feed runs from 4:30-9 a.m. Adults pay $6, Children 12 and under pay $3. The clubhouse is at the corner of Route 9 and route 178, not far from Brewer.
• And if you can wait that long, some folks up in Dover-Foxcroft are planning a feed worth considering. The 6th annual Arthur L. Hitchcock Wild Game Dinner is put on by the Piscataquis Regional YMCA to benefit youth programs and the Hooked on Fishing Program. The menu for the Nov. 16 event includes moose, bear, deer, rabbit, turkey groundhog, — yes, I said groundhog — along with perch chowder and fried lake trout. The donation is $10 for adults and $4 for kids ages 6-12. Children under 6 get in free. The meal runs from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., but I’d imagine early birds have a better chance of eating before the supply of groundhog runs out.
Have fun! Eat well!
And most importantly, hunt safely.