MDIF&W Regional Office
HCR 67, Box 1066
Enfield, ME 04433
The Penobscot Region
by Kevin Stevens, Regional Wildlife Biologist
The Penobscot River Region (F) encompasses some of the most diverse landscapes in Maine. Located in the east central portion of the state, this region includes mile-high Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park, the vast southern Aroostook softwood flats, the hilly lake country south of Route 6, and the rolling farm country of western Penobscot County. The human population is decidedly rural in character, with few population centers, light development pressure, and little posted land.
The Penobscot River watershed is the backbone of the region. Major rivers feeding into the Penobscot include the Mattawamkeag, the Piscataquis, the Pleasant, the Passadumkeag, and the east and west branches of the upper Penobscot. Early development of farms and lumber operations centered along these river corridors, due to their importance for travel and water power. Many of the early farms and developments are now abandoned and provide prime upland wildlife habitat.
Wildlife Management Areas
The Bud Leavitt Wildlife Management Area (WMA), also known as Bull Hill, is located just 25 miles from Bangor, in the region's western farm country. This 6,500-acre area is located along U.S. Route 15 in the towns of Charleston, Garland, Dover, and Atkinson. Bull Hill is a predominantly upland WMA that has undergone intensive forest and wildlife management since 1981. Hunting opportunities are excellent for deer, bear, woodcock, grouse and hare, due to active apple tree and old field maintenance, alder management and log road seeding programs conducted by inmates of the nearby Charleston Correctional Facility. State of the art forest management techniques have also created a prime mix of variable aged forest stands throughout the WMA.
Those interested in waterfowl hunting on the Department's WMAs might want to look further north in the region. The Francis Dunn WMA, known locally as Sawtelle Deadwater (pronounced "saw-tle"), is located above Shin Pond in T6R7 WELS, on the Scraggley Lake road. The deadwater was originally flowed by a sawmill dam built in 1950, and rebuilt by the Department in 1984 for wildlife management purposes. This 280-acre wetland offers opportunities for pass shooting and hunting over decoys for wood ducks, goldeneyes, black ducks, ring-necks, hooded mergansers, and Canada geese.
White-tailed Deer: The region's greatest deer numbers occur in the farming areas of western Penobscot County. Here you'll have the greatest chance of taking a deer, but you'll also be competing with more hunters. For hunters interested in a big buck in the "Big Woods," the area northwest of Patten, and the southern Aroostook timberlands areas are recommended. There are numerous hunting lodges and guides available in both areas.
Moose: Moose are abundant throughout the region. For those lucky hunters holding a permit for the southeast zone, the East Branch country on the eastern side of Baxter Park, and the industrial forestlands of southern Aroostook, are easily accessible, and have healthy moose numbers. Many large bulls are taken from these areas every year.
Black Bear: Black bear are common in the Penobscot River region, the best habitat being the abandoned farmlands of eastern Penobscot, northern Washington, and southern Aroostook counties, where wild apple trees, blueberries and raspberries are abundant. While many bear are taken during the deer season, the most popular and effective way to hunt for bear is with the assistance of a guide on a baited stand. You should remember that a bear permit is required for hunting before the deer season, and many landowners charge a fee for permission to place a bait.
Upland Game: The same abandoned farmland area described for bear provides prime habitat conditions for grouse (partridge), woodcock, and rabbits (hare). A good bird or rabbit dog will improve your chances for success, but many hunters prefer the challenge of a one-on-one encounter. Another good area for upland game hunting is the farming area of western Penobscot County, where active farms are interspersed with woodlots and abandoned fields. You'll find the grouse to be very wary here due to greater hunter numbers.
Waterfowl: The main stem, tributaries, bogans and beaver ponds of the Penobscot River valley from Medway to Old Town are renowned for waterfowl hunting. You can jump shoot from a canoe or hunt from a blind for black ducks, woodies, hooded mergansers and goldeneyes. Access is easy with many public boat launch sites spaced every few miles along the river.