May 27, 2018
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Young hunters getting the jump

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Since 2002, the state’s young hunters have enjoyed an advantage over the rest of Maine’s firearms deer hunters: They get a head start on the season.

Approved by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Committee in May of that year, Youth Deer Day has been a huge hit. The day provides for lifelong memories and sets up a situation in which an adult is merely a mentor, not a potential second shooter.

Consequently, adults often tell me that their children who are too young to participate in Youth Deer Day count the days until they turn 10 and can participate.

Well, this Saturday marks the state’s ninth Youth Deer Day, and hundreds of children are undoubtedly eager for their own special day in the Maine woods. All other firearms hunters will have to wait a week for their own opening day, which takes place Oct. 30.

If you’re unfamiliar with the day and might be interested in taking your child hunting on Saturday, here’s what you’ve got to know, courtesy of the DIF&W.

• The day is open to all kids between the age of 10 and 16 who hold a valid junior hunting license.

• Those hunters are allowed to take one deer of either sex while hunting on Youth Deer Day. The exception: In the state’s Wildlife Management Districts where no anterless permits (often called doe permits) are allotted, young hunters are required to follow those rules and target only bucks.

• The young hunter must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or a designated qualified adult who holds a Maine hunting license or who has passed a hunter safety course.

• The adult must not possess a firearm while accompanying the youth hunter.

• Youth hunters may use a firearm, crossbow or bow and arrow to hunt on Youth Deer Day.

• If successful in filling their tag on Youth Deer Day, the young hunter may not take any additional deer during the season unless they have been awarded a bonus antlerless deer permit or unless they participate in the expanded archery season with the appropriate permits.

That’s all there is to it.

Of course, if you’re looking to provide your young hunter a complete opening-day experience, you’ve got to answer this question: Where are we going to eat?

Thankfully, there is at least one local option available for breakfast … and another for supper. Read on for more details.

Where’s breakfast?

If your organization is holding a hunter’s breakfast this season — or any kind of hunter’s meal — we want to let readers know about it.

And we can’t do that if you don’t get in touch.

Over the past few days our food file has begun to fill up, which is encouraging. Still, I’m sure there are a lot more meals that we’ve heard nothing about. That’s not good for your organization, and it’s not good for hungry hunters.

So, get in touch. Include the important details like menu, hours of operation, location and admission fee, and we’ll do the rest.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. And so are the hunters.

And while we’re on the topic, here are your first couple of meals for this hunting season:

“I know this [supper] is early for deer-hunting season, but maybe there are some bird hunters, or anyone for that matter, who would like to have what we are serving,” Audrey Chadwick wrote.

While most firearms hunters won’t head into the woods until a week after Saturday’s harvest supper in Brownville, the event is being held on Youth Deer Day. Therefore, it’s good enough for me.

Here’s the deal: The supper will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Brownville Community Church. Adults will pay $6 and kids eat for just $3.

This year’s menu: Yankee pot roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, breads, gingerbread and pineapple angel food cake.

Sounds good to me. And Chadwick guarantees you’ll have a great time.

“Our church ladies put on a good feast!” she wrote.

In addition, Boy Scout Troop 44 in Orrington will hold its third annual hunter’s breakfast at the East Orrington Congregational Church on Saturday, Youth Deer Day. The doors will be open from 5 to 9 a.m. Breakfast costs $5, and nonhunters are encouraged to attend. Traditional breakfast fare is on tap, but organizer Steve Norris says a highlight will be the homemade doughnuts his wife will prepare for this year’s feed.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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