Biologists from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has compiled regional previews for various hunting seasons including upland bird hunting, which began Oct. 1. Here is their assessment:
Southern lakes region
In Region A, Oct. 1 marks the beginning of pheasant season. DIF&W biologists and clubs have been busy releasing birds throughout the region.
“We had our first pheasant release on Monday, and we have two other releases planned for Oct. 5 and Oct. 19,” DIF&W biologist Corey Stearns said. Stearns said more than 40 birds were released at each of the 22 sites — more than 880 birds so far have been released in the region.
Releasing the pheasants before the season or on a Sunday during the season gives the birds some time to acclimate to their surroundings. Over the course of the season, the department and area rod and gun clubs will release more than 2,300 birds at 22 different sites.
Hunters are reminded they must purchase a pheasant hunting permit. Proceeds from the permit go directly to fund the pheasant program. For more information on the pheasant program and a list of release sites, visit maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm
In other news, Brownfield Bog has been busy with waterfowl hunters. Upland hunters might want to check out the western portion of the Brownfield Bog Wildlife Management Area, which offers good habitat for grouse.
Turkey hunters also are gearing up. While Stearns mentioned the number of broods seems to be lower this year, he is still seeing quite a few turkeys right now.
“There is still plenty of opportunities for turkey hunters, and there seems to be more people talking about it,” said Stearns, who reminds hunters they can take two turkeys this fall on the permit purchased in the spring.
Central and midcoast
If you are looking to go grouse hunting on opening day in central Maine, bird hunters ought to find a reasonable number of birds.
“Average May rainfall generally means an average bird crop,” DIF&W biologist Keel Kemper said. “So I am expecting that hunters should see reasonable numbers of birds in central Maine.”
If you are looking for a spot to hunt, visit Frye Mountain, one of the department’s many wildlife management areas. Frye Mountain has an excellent network of roads and is managed with selective cutting for varying ages of young forests.
If waterfowl is your passion, it should be a good early season in central Maine.
“Word on ducks is that there’s a good acorn crop, which means better than average wood duck shooting. Teal are already showing up at Merrymeeting Bay,” Kemper said. “There will also be some good mallard hunting on the Kennebec and Sebasticook (rivers) when the time comes.”
Kemper also noted there are a lot of migrant geese in local fields around Unity but very few hunters. Take the time to ask for permission, and you can have some outstanding hunting.
Bird season is set to begin in Rangeley and the western mountains region.
“While it didn’t seem to be a particularly bad spring, our waterfowl numbers were off,” wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey said. “If I had to venture a guess on grouse, I would have to say it looks about average.”
Turkey hunters in the southern part of the region are likely to see lower numbers of birds this spring.
“Our turkey numbers are down, as they were hit hard by the winter,” said Hulsey, who added he has been averaging between one and four complaints from area farmers in recent years. This past winter? Not a one.