Spurred by the desire to spend one autumn “cast and blast” weekend at camp, outdoorsman James Cote asked Sen. Russell Black to submit a bill that would move the beginning day of upland game season — including ruffed grouse — to the last Saturday in September.
That way, Cote said, each year would have one weekend when his group of friends, and others like it, could adjourn to camp, spend a Saturday hunting and a Friday or Sunday fly fishing on waters that typically shut down Oct. 1.
On April 22, Gov. Janet Mills signed that bill, LD 265, into law. It is described as an act to increase opportunities for hunters, anglers and sporting camps, by extending the seasons on upland game.
According to the text of the law, the upland game that may be hunted will be snowshoe hare, gray squirrel, ruffed grouse and bobwhite quail. Cote said that because of federal rules, hunting for American woodcock, a migratory game bird, will not begin until Oct. 1.
“I’m personally very excited about this opportunity. To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a meal of brook trout and partridge to kick off the start of hunting season,” Cote said. “I’ve already had several inquiries from friends and sportsmen, near and far, about the status of this bill. I think we can count on many camps being full on this weekend in September. And now to know that this will be an annual event, well, that’s a win for Maine sportsmen.”
The original intent of the bill was to just include a Saturday opening day of bird season. Through amendments, the bill was changed to allow the start of the season on the last Saturday in September, and for the season to continue on the Monday after that, even if it was not Oct. 1.
Therefore, this year the upland game season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 28, then continues Monday, Sept. 30 (no Sunday hunting is allowed in Maine).
“Maine should be continuously exploring these types of options that create new opportunities for hunters and anglers,” Cote said. “There are things that can help recruit sportsmen to Maine, as well as new hunters and anglers in the future.”
The bill was treated as “emergency legislation,” meaning it will go into effect immediately. Most legislation goes into effect 90 days after it is approved, but if that had been the case, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife would not have had sufficient time to adopt rules relating to the open season for this year.