October 2, 2015

MDIFW Hunting Report

IFW Hunting Report for October 2, 2015

Southern Lakes Region – Region A

October marks the beginning of pheasant season in southern Maine, and IFW biologists and local rod and gun clubs were out earlier in the week, releasing birds at a variety of sites.

“We released 770 birds at 24 different sites,” said IFW wildlife biologist Scott Lindsay. “We had 40 volunteers from different fish and game clubs who helped us release the birds.”

Over the course of the season, the department will release 2,300 birds on three different release dates. The next pheasant release date is October 11, and then the final release date will be October 18.

Funding for the program comes directly from the pheasant stamp, which costs $17. Birds are released on public land, or on private land where the landowners have provided access to pheasant hunters. For more information on the program, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm

The fall season for wild turkeys also begins this week. Lindsay says that he is still seeing turkeys throughout the region, but not as many as years past due to some harsh winters and increased turkey hunting opportunities. Lindsay suggests changing your tactics when hunting this bird in the fall.

“Birds are not in the fields as much since the males aren’t displaying,” said Lindsay. “You should try more in the woods. Look for oak stands where there is some good hard mast. It’s been a good acorn year.”

Lindsay did add that this fall, he had close to 20 requests for bear baiting sites on wildlife management areas in southern Maine. He said that several of those hunters were successful in getting a bear, and that many of them got a lot of activity from bears that were confirmed with game cam pictures.

Central and Midcoast Maine – Region B

Waterfowl season is heating up in central and coastal Maine.

“We are seeing a lot of the big ducks, blacks and mallards, on Sebasticook Lake,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Keel Kemper. “They haven’t drawn down the water yet, but once they do, the teal will start to show up as well.”

Kemper added that teal hadn’t really showed up at Merrymeeting Bay either. “Things seem to be a little behind this year.”

If you are a wood duck hunter, this might be one of the better years in a while.

“It could be an exceptional year for wood ducks due to the huge acorn crop. Everywhere I have gone, it has been quite substantial,” said Kemper. Kemper said a trip down the Sebasticook River would be worthwhile for woodies. “They are pretty evenly distributed up and down the river.”

Green Point in Dresden is another good choice for waterfowl hunting. The gate is open down to the point and it offers excellent access to Merrymeeting Bay.

If you are a goose hunter, things are looking good as well. Unity Pond has hundreds of geese that are roosting on the pond, then heading out at first light to feed in the fields around the area.

If you are looking to go duck hunting, don’t forget your federal duck stamp. They are available at your local post office. Some hunters have had to go to multiple post offices to get theirs, so plan ahead. You can also get them online from the US Postal Service.

And the early word is that that the grouse study at Frye Mountain Wildlife Management Area had good grouse numbers which should translate to a good season.

Downeast Region – Region C

After two harsh winters Downeast, upland bird numbers are rebounding.

“Two years ago, our December ice storm was pretty harmful to grouse and turkeys, and then we had a prolonged winter last year,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer. “But from what I have seen, this year could be slightly above average, or average in most areas downeast.”

Schaeffer points out that even though spring was delayed in arriving, it wasn’t a prolonged cold and wet spring, meaning that there was fair to good conditions for broods of grouse and turkeys. “We’ve received some favorable reports and observations of pretty good recruitment.”

If you are looking to turkey hunt downeast,, WMDs 16 and 28 have a two bird bag limit, while WMD 19 has a one bird bag limit. There is no fall turkey hunting in WMD 27.

Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region – Region D

Now is a great time to go waterfowl hunting in the western foothills and western mountain areas of the state.

“Any of our wildlife management areas such as Stump Pond in Strong, Fahi Pond in Embden, Chesterville WMA in Chesterville, Mercer Bog in Mercer and Black Brook Flowage in Carrying Place Township all are good bets for waterfowl hunting,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey.

Fall turkey hunters aren’t likely to as many turkeys as they’ve seen in years past. “There are fewer turkeys out there with the harsh winters we’ve had the past two winters,” said Hulsey.

With a relatively good spring from nesting, upland bird hunters in the area should see an average to an above average year for birds.

Moosehead Region – Region E

While much of Maine was dry this spring, it was a little different in parts of northern Maine.

“I was a little concerned about grouse numbers after all the water we had up here in the nesting season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane, who added that once the foliage drops, hunters should start seeing birds.

With the start of the regular archery season for deer, Kane is glad to hear favorable reports on deer in the area.

“Deer numbers are showing up really well. There’s been a lot of sightings and we are seeing a slow upward growth in the population after the two very difficult winters we had in 08 and 09,” said Kane.

Bear hunters in the Moosehead region are doing well, but with all the natural foods in woods, it was more difficult to get a bear using bait.

“For some hunters, it was about average, but for other hunters, it was a little more difficult,” said Kane. “The good news is that bears will be out longer this year and denning later. Deer hunters will likely get a chance at a bear.”

The moose hunt started slow in the northern part of the region with temperatures in the mid-70s on Monday, but with the rain and cooler weather, hunters were seeing more moose by mid-week.

Penobscot Region – Region F

By mid-week, area moose tagging stations were busy. Island Falls had registered nine moose, Mount Chase registered 11 and Springfield had 10 registered. Abol Bridge was the busiest as usual, registering 27 moose through early Thursday.

With the early part of bear season over, numbers look similar to last year.

“They tagged 60 bear up to Mount Chase,” said IFW Wildlife biologist Allen Starr, “Milo has also tagged a similar number. While the beginning of the bait season was a little slower than normal, it picked up later in the season.”

Bird hunters were out the first day of the season, and even though it was windy, they were finding success. Many moose hunters were on the prowl for birds as well. Foliage is still thick throughout the region.

If you are looking to turkey hunt in the area, you will want to hunt the southern part of the region. “I’ve noticed some good flocks of turkeys in the Bradford, Lagrange and Charleston areas,” said Starr.

If you are looking to go grouse hunting, the Bud Leavitt Wildlife Management Area is an excellent choice. IFW biologists have been working to free apple trees that are overly grown in, and have been cutting different areas of the forested landscape in both strip and block cuts for grouse and woodcock. The staggered cuts provide excellent habitat in different stages of growth for both game birds. Page Farm on the Mattawamkeag River Wildlife Management Area is another good choice to hunt.

Aroostook Region – Region G

At 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, it was 43 degrees in parts of Aroostook County, a marked contrast to the mid-70s that were prevalent for moose hunters earlier in the week.

Even with the warm weather, there were steady numbers of moose being registered, including several over 1,000 pounds.

Thursday also marked the beginning what should be a good grouse season up north.

“It should be a better than average year,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. This is based primarily on drumming counts and brood counts done earlier in the year. “It may be spotty in some areas, but overall what we saw was that brood numbers were better than average.”

“It’s also looking good for duck season up here. We’ve seen good production with a high number of broods and there’s a lot of food available. What we’ve seen in the past is that if the food is here, the ducks will stay put,” said Hoppe. “The recent rain has spread the ducks out, but once things dry out a bit, the duck hunting will pick up.