You’ve done all your scouting and sighted in your hunting rifle. You know your tree stands are in good repair, and you’ve contacted your hunting buddies to formulate a rough opening-day plan.
Now — if you’re a Maine resident — you’ve only got a week left before opening day of the firearms season on deer.
You’re eager. So am I.
But you’re still forgetting something.
When you roll out of bed in the dark on opening day, what’s on the menu … and where are you going to find that all-important hunter’s breakfast?
Of course, you’re welcome to cook for yourself, if that’s part of your tradition. For many of us, however, tradition holds that we sidle up to a table in a grange hall, a school or an Elks lodge, and share a meal with a bunch of like-minded individuals. The best part: Someone else will do the cooking. The second-best part: Most of the time, you can eat all you want (not that you won’t regret your choices if you overdo it a bit).
Over the past few weeks I’ve asked for your help in letting hunters know where they can get some good grub on opening day … or opening night … or on any other day during the hunting season.
Here, then, are places you can fuel up before spending a day in the woods:
ä Let’s start with today. I know I said next week was the official opener, and I know if you’re taking a youth hunter afield for Youth Deer Day you’re likely already in the woods. But if you’re a late riser, you might want to head over to Orrington, where Boy Scout Troop 44 is holding a breakfast at the East Orrington Congregational Church on Johnson Mill Road. The feed runs from 5-9 a.m., and the cost is just $5.
Now, let’s look at the options for opening day, Oct. 31:
— If you’re looking for a breakfast with a lot of tradition, look no farther than Presque Isle, where the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club will host a hunter’s breakfast for the 61st straight year on Oct. 31. The clubhouse is located on the Parsons Road and food will be served from 4-8 a.m. Tickets are $5 per person, and a variety of door prizes are up for grabs. In addition, raffles will be held for a Remington .270 rifle, $125 in gas and deer calls.
— In Old Town, the Old Town Rotary Club will hold its 59th annual hunter’s breakfast from 4-8 a.m. on Oct. 31. The event takes place in Riverfront Park. The fee is $5 for adults, $2.50 for kids 12 and younger, and families eat for $15.ä In Hartland, the Hartland-St. Albans Lions Club will hold a breakfast from 4-8 a.m. on Oct. 30. The price remains $5 and proceeds will be used to help people in the club’s service area.
— In Ellsworth, VFW Post 109 will hold a breakfast from 5-9 a.m. on Oct. 31. The meal will be served at the VFW hall at 419 Main Street. The price is $7, and according to organizers, “If you can eat all [the menu items] in one sitting, you probably will want to walk it off in the woods.”
— In Milo, the Penquis Valley High School junior class will stage the 42nd annual hunter’s breakfast on Oct. 31 from 4:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. The all-you-can-eat feed will cost you $4 if you buy a ticket in advance, $5 if you pay at the door.
— In Bangor, the 11th annual Clarence Brown Young Hunters’ Breakfast will be held at the Elks Club on Odlin Road from 4-8 a.m. on Oct. 31. A full breakfast menu will be served, and a rifle will be given as a door prize to a hunter age 17 or under. The breakfast is free, but donations for Maine’s Youth Fish and Game Association will be accepted.
— In Dedham, a breakfast will be served at the Dedham School from 5-10 a.m. on Oct. 31. The price is $6 for adults, $4 for children, and $20 for a family of four or more. All proceeds benefit the Dedham Middle School’s team-building programs.
— While not officially a hunter’s meal, I think that after a long day in the woods, many outdoors enthusiasts might be interested in refueling. If that’s the case, and you end up out on Route 9 — “The Airline” to locals — I’ve got just the thing. In Clifton, a chili contest and supper will be held at the Clifton United Baptist Church on Oct. 31. The cost of admission is $7 for adults, $3 for children. Kids are invited to wear Halloween costumes to the event. And if you want to unveil your own special chili recipe to the world (or greater Clifton), you can enter the contest for $10. Call 944-8846 for more information.
Of course, for all but the most avid eaters, breakfast comes just once a day. Therefore, let’s look to the future, and some other meals you might want to check out.
— In Holden, the Eastern Maine Snowmobile Club will hold its annual breakfast from 4:30-8:30 a.m. on Nov. 7. The clubhouse is located on the Levenseller Road, and the cost of the meal is $6 per person.
— In Eddington, the Eddington Salmon Club’s breakfast will run from 5-9 a.m. on Nov. 7. Adults will eat for $6 while children under 12 pay just $3. While you’re there, you can check out the brand-new pea pod rowing canoe that club members built and can buy a raffle ticket for a shot at the classic craft. Tickets are $10 and only 500 tickets will be sold.
— In Dover-Foxcroft, the 7th annual Arthur L. Hitchcock wild game dinner will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Nov. 8 at the SeDoMoCha School. The suggested donation is $10 for adults, and $4 for kids age 6-12. The wild game has been donated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, hunters, guides and taxidermists. The event is a fundraiser for the Piscataquis Regional YMCA, and donations of bear, moose, deer or other wild game meat would be appreciated. Call Jim Ellis at 343-0503 or Rocco Palumbo at 683-5050 for more information.
Don’t forget your permit
The DIF&W issued a press release earlier this week that reminds waterfowl hunters not to run (sorry) afoul of state laws.
The number of licenses or permits required to enjoy the sport causes a bit of confusion, apparently.
Those age 16 or older who want to hunt waterfowl need to purchase a $7.50 state migratory waterfowl permit. In addition, hunters must have a state-issued hunting license — either the big-game or small-game license will suffice.
To top it all off, a federal migratory bird-hunting stamp is also required.
The confusion may stem from the fact that when hunters buy their licenses through the state’s computerized MOSES system, they’re asked if they intend to be a “migratory bird program” participant.
Answering “Yes” to that question, however, doesn’t mean you get to go out and shoot ducks and geese. Instead, it just signals your intent.
The appropriate federal and state permits and stamps, along with the state hunting license, are required.