It seems it was just yesterday when Maine’s deer hunters eagerly hopped out of bed to celebrate opening morning by heading into the woods.
And here we are, somehow, staring down the barrel of the last week of the firearms deer season: deerless, again.
The regular firearms season wraps up on Saturday, but some hunters will head afield for a week or two, depending on what part of the state they live, during the subsequent muzzleloader season.
The rest of us will hang up our gear a half hour after sunset on Saturday, unless we tag out before then.
Nathan Bieber, the deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, passed along these late-season tips to help tip the scales in your favor in your quest to find a buck over the next few days.
“This late in the season, deer have been pressured and harvested for a good three weeks now. Your chances of stumbling across an unaware buck or one that’s so rutted up he barely recognizes you are getting low,” Bieber said. “If you can find areas that haven’t seen hunting pressure yet, these would be good places to try some late season still hunting.”
But what if you can’t find an area like that?
One age-old tactic is still popular because it still works. Be sneaky. Be stealthy. Cover ground slowly, and remain on the lookout. In other words, try still hunting.
“Still hunting has the added benefit of allowing you to do some simultaneous in-season scouting, looking for beds in the new snow or even new buck scrapes made as our second estrous cycle nears,” he said.
If you’re not much of still-hunter, you could still get lucky.
“For those folks that prefer hunting in a stand, human traffic in the woods picks up during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and deer will be seeking out cover and areas where they aren’t running into a lot of orange,” Bieber said. “Find a spot away from hunters and/or adjacent to good cover to post up.”
And if all that doesn’t work? Well, keep hoping for the best.
“Tactics always sound good in theory, but it’s also very good to be lucky,” Bieber said.