September 27, 2013
IFW Hunting Report for September 27, 2013
Southern Lakes Region
In the southern region of the state, hunters are gearing up for pheasant season. Pheasant season begins on October 1, and over 2,300 pheasants will be released at 22 different sites in York and Cumberland County.
“If you are looking for an area to hunt, we have a list of release sites on our website,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Cory Stearns, who recommended the Vern Walker and Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management areas as good locations to hunt.
Hunters are reminded that you need to purchase a pheasant permit before going out to hunt pheasants in York and Cumberland Counties. The permit is available on the department’s website or wherever you purchase your license. Proceeds from the sale fund the pheasant program.
Turkey hunters are also looking forward to a successful season, new rules allow for a longer season (October 3 – November 1), and up to two turkeys this fall.
“The turkey population is doing really well throughout southern Maine, and I expect hunters to do very well this fall,” added Stearns.
Central and Midcoast Maine
In Central Maine, upland bird hunting means Frye Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a destination for many bird hunters.
“People fly in all the way from Germany to hunt Frye Mountain,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Keel Kemper, “It should be a pretty good year at Frye because there are always birds there.”
Kemper did remind hunters that there was quite a lot of rain this spring and in early summer which has impacted grouse broods. There will be birds, but perhaps just not as many.
Of course, Central Maine is also “ground zero for wild turkeys” says Kemper. Central Maine and its robust turkey population supplied birds for much of the state’s reintroduction program, and hunters should have no problems finding birds this fall season.
Kemper said that waterfowl hunters may want to try Madawaska Bog in Palmyra. A strong wild rice year has that wildlife management area brimming with ducks.
“It’s socked with wild rice. There are lots of hiding spots for hunters, and lots of birds,” said Kemper, who said Ruffingham Meadow in Searsmont is also a good destination.
“I was pretty impressed with the quantity of teal and the quality of the rice,” said Kemper, “Wild rice is an annual, and it can be boom or bust, and this year seems to be exceptional.”
Downeast, it looks like a good year for waterfowl and turkeys, but not quite as good for upland birds. IFW Wildlife Biologist Tom Schaeffer thinks it is going to be an average year for grouse hunters in the area.
“We had a cold and wet spring just about the time that birds would be hatching,” said Schaeffer, “Expectations for grouse season should be about average.”
However, Schaeffer noted that there has been spring conditions on rivers and streams right through the summer, creating favorable conditions for waterfowl hunters who like to jump shoot. There have also been quite a few hunters who are taking advantage of the early goose season, since there are “a favorable number of geese around.”
Turkey hunters will be able to hunt Wildlife Management District 28 this fall, and next spring, District 27 will be open.
“This time of year, we are seeing some small turkeys, which means they re-nested, most likely because the first nest failed,” said Schaeffer.
If you are looking for areas to hunt this fall, Schaeffer said to check out the Cobscook Wildlife Management area. There are ten units that make up the Cobscook WMA, and there are some really nice upland areas. Waterfowl hunters will want to check out the Lyle Frost WMA in Eastbrook, which has a nice, canoeable flowage.
Rangeley Lakes/Western Mountains Region
Up in the Western mountains area, things are looking good for the turkey season this fall.
“We have lots of turkeys, and plenty of excellent turkey hunting opportunities in our region,” said Hulsey, “I would grade it an ‘A’”
Hulsey added that brood counts were normal for waterfowl, and that while he doesn’t have a good feel for grouse, he has heard some encouraging news from others.
“I was out all day with a forester in the Rangeley area, and he said that he’s seen some pretty good numbers of birds,” said Hulsey. “Overall, I think it will be an average year for grouse, with some areas a little better than others.
Waterfowl hunters may want to check out Mercer Bog. While Hulsey said the middle of the day can be hit or miss, get there early or late for more action.
In the Moosehead region, leaves are starting to drop, which bodes well for upland hunters
“Even with what looks like below average nesting success, there are still a lot of grouse around,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane.
“People are seeing more grouse, which is more of a trend due to a growing grouse population,” said Kane. “We had a higher than average number going into the winter last year, and last year’s mild winter helped. Even with below average production this spring, there still are a lot of grouse around.”
Kane also noted that he has seen quite a few turkeys in the southern part of the region, and just as in other parts of the state, he is seeing a variety of sizes with the poults.
“There are several age classes of turkeys,” said Kane. “They have been re-nesting throughout the summer, and we have seen some real little ones.” Turkey hunters should concentrate their efforts in the southern part of the region, said Kane.
In the Penobscot region, even though you may have not seen many grouse, it may not be a cause for concern.
“Grouse numbers can be hard to determine,” said Mark Caron. “I haven’t seen much for broods, but that’s not uncommon, it’s a good food year, and I have been flushing birds now and then.”
“I have heard from foresters and others who haven’t been seeing many, but I have heard that in past years too, and then once the leaves drop, the grouse appear and it turns out to be a good year,” says Caron.
If you are interested in turkey hunting, WMD 18 will be open for turkey hunting this fall, and Caron says there are plenty of turkeys around.
Turkey hunters should try the Page Farm unit of the Mattawamkeag River System WMA. Caron says the department has done a lot of work in that WMA such as creating early successional forest areas, planting food plots, freeing apple trees, cutting habitat strips and improving three miles of roads.
Duck hunters may want to try the Mud Pond WMA or the Pond Farm WMA. Still a little early for good goose hunting in the region as there is still standing corn in many fields.
It’s moose season up north, and this week’s cool weather has moose moving around, and hunters are happy.
IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe said one hunter downed a very large bull, tipping the scales at 1,070 pounds, and had a spread of 62 inches. Hoppe said the Gateway check station in Ashland had two or three other moose that were over 1,000 pounds. Business has been brisk, with hunters registering 75 moose on Tuesday.
Goose hunters are doing well this early season up north. Hoppe notes that waterfowl hunting in the county “is one of the gems of the county. Very few people take part in it, but it can be outstanding.” Hoppe suggests hunting at Lake Josephine or the Christina Reservoir in Easton.
As for upland birds, Hoppe says “It has rained a lot, but I think it is going to be above average. I have seen a few birds while I was out, and I have seen good numbers of woodcock already.” Hoppe suggests the North Maine Woods as a destination for upland hunters.
“I don’t know if there is any place that has as good a habitat as the North Maine Woods,” says Hoppe. “The stewardship is excellent for upland birds, and there are a couple of million acres open to bird hunting. There is nothing else like it in the country.”