ORRINGTON, Maine — When 15-year-old Anthony Chiappone rose early on Saturday morning to take part in Youth Turkey Day, it didn’t take long before he and his dad, Nick Chiappone, had some company.
“We had to shoo the deer off the lawn in order to go out and go hunt turkeys,” the elder Chiappone said with a chuckle after registering the bird at Bob’s Kozy Korner store. “There were two right in front of us. Then four more ran across. Then we rode out [in an ATV to the hunting location] and the deer kept coming out, one after the other. There were 13 out there at one point. Then the turkeys started coming in. It was pretty fun.”
The Chiappones live in Orrington, which has a thriving wild turkey population.
Anthony Chiappone said about 22 turkeys eventually joined in the festivities.
“[The field] was littered [with animals],” he said.
Anthony Chiappone was patient, watching as turkeys walked past, out of range, before finally settling on a young male turkey, or “jake,” which got a bit too close for its own good.
“I heard another group behind us, and I could hear them coming in,” he said. “I told my dad, ‘Hey, they’re right there.’ He covered his ears and I shot him at about five, 10 yards.”
Youth Turkey Day is set aside for youth hunters who haven’t reached their 16th birthdays. Those youngsters who have a youth hunting license are allowed to head afield while being mentored by an adult, who is not allowed to hunt. For most other Mainers, wild turkey season begins on Monday.
Not all hunters had the opportunity to enjoy Youth Deer Day, however. Due to the manhunt that was taking place in central parts of the state, Gov. Paul R. LePage on Friday postponed the opening of turkey season until further notice in an area that includes parts of Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Fairfield.
Law enforcement agencies were searching for John D. Williams, a suspect in the killing of Somerset County Deputy Sheriff Corporal Eugene Cole earlier this week. He was apprehended just before 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I am using my executive authority to ensure the safety of the public and our law enforcement officers,” LePage said in a statement that was released Friday, before Williams was caught. “We are heartbroken yet determined to find the fugitive and bring him to justice as swiftly as possible. I thank our law enforcement officers and those from the federal government and surrounding states for their hard work in difficult conditions over the past several days.”
Except for in those areas, where it remains unclear when hunting will resume, Monday will mark the beginning of the wild turkey season. Those in Wildlife Management Districts 7 and 9 through 29 will enjoy a liberal two-turkey seasonal bag limit, with both birds sporting beards; those hunting in WMD 8 are allowed just one bearded bird per year. And in WMDs 1 through 6, a split season is still in place, with hunters born in odd-numbered years allowed to hunt April 30-May 5, May 14-19, and May 28-June 2. Those born in even-numbered years can hunt May 7-12, May 21-26 and May 28-June 2.
Andrew Munroe, 15, of Holden headed into the woods bright and early after spending much of Friday afternoon at a rainy and cold high school track meet in Bangor. Munroe didn’t have to wait long to shoot his first bird of the season, and was registering his turkey before 8 a.m.
“Right when we got out of our car, we heard gobbling,” he said. “We had to walk in, and they were right on the spot where we were going to set up.”
Andrew and his father, Chris Munroe, changed their original plan a bit, and before long Andrew had bagged a jake that weighed in at 15.8 pounds.
Chris Munroe said he enjoys spending time in the woods on days set aside for young hunters.
“It’s a great bonding time, and it’s great to get out early [in the season], before all the other hunters are in the woods to make the deer and turkeys nervous,” Chris Munroe said.
And after bagging one bird, the Munroes weren’t done for the day. Instead, they hopped back into the truck and headed out for some more scouting.
“Now we’re going to go out and see if we can get another one,” Chris Munroe said.
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