Old News Archive

October 17, 2006 - Outdoor Report

October 17, 2006 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

For outdoor enthusiasts, fall is in full swing as we approach the end of October. Both weeks of the moose-hunting season have passed for this year. However, many are anticipating opening day of firearms season for deer, and the subsequent peak in buck activity due to the “rut”. Moose Hunting may be expanded further south next year to help reduce the occurrences of moose-vehicle collisions. An informational meeting on the proposed new moose hunting areas will be held October 26, 6:30 P.M. at the Stevens Brook Elementary School in Bridgton. Those lucky enough to chase Maine’s largest big game animal are recalling and sharing their trials and tribulations with friends and family members. Moose hunting usually allows an opportunity for others to share in the hunt of the permit holder given the tactics usually employed when hunting. Having spent the entire second week of the moose hunting season in the woods with my family and friends I created many new memories and don’t have to worry about an empty larder this winter. While roaming the roads I encountered many vehicles with fathers, mothers and young children. Whether or not the children were old enough to tote a gun they were still participants. Don’t miss an opportunity to include kids as well as novice adults in the joys of being outdoors.

Waterfowl hunting is an excellent way to introduce folks to Maine’s woods and waters. There is magic in paddling a stream or sitting in a blind watching for a duck to come careening into view with the brilliant foliage in the background. Wildlife abounds around many wetlands favored by ducks, so while waterfowl shooting action can be plentiful, success or lack there of, is overshadowed by the many sights and sounds experienced.

Another way to enjoy the fall is by trying to trick a wily animal into stepping into a trap the size of an English muffin in middle of millions of acres of forests and fields. While the early fox and coyote trapping season is underway the statewide general furbearer season will be opening up October 29. Involve someone in the preparation of traps and “guide” them to their first furbearer. Not only will memories be made but also this will ensure that there will be someone else to educate others and pass on information on shy critters and an exciting and misunderstood tradition. Trapping is an excellent way to learn more about elusive animals and the learning never seems to end.

Like elsewhere, we here in the Southern Maine Region are caught up in the daily rat race and forget to stop and the smell the roses. Take a minute and enjoy what nature has to offer. Combined with the wonderful scenery this time of year, many outdoor pursuits are at their best. Scope out the migrant birds passing through as well as the early arriving winter resident species along the coast from Kittery to Casco Bay at numerous locations, walk a wooded trail in hopes to find some deliciously edible hazelnuts, discover a salamander in search of a winter hideout, or sit near a beaver dam with fresh yellow sticks at dusk and watch for activity. Pheasant hunting is also underway in York and Cumberland County. A list of the release sites is available on MDIFWs website.

Remember bird hunters and bird watchers have a lot in common, share the outdoors with those who haven’t experienced it!

-Kendall Marden, Wildlife Biologist Specialist

Region B - Central Maine

Preliminary reports from the field indicate a better than expected bird hunting season may be in store for central Maine bird hunters. Last year’s grouse and woodcock season was generally considered a bust and this year’s heavy spring rains lead to speculation of another bad year for birds. However, I recently spoke with several groups of hunters who were taking advantage of the fabulous coverts afforded by the Frye Mountain WMA in Montville. All seemed please with this falls crop of grouse and woodcock. One party I spoke with had recorded 76 flushes on grouse and 26 flushes on woodcock on a three day hunting trip to western Maine.

The annual fall rains have arrived which leads to an increase in the number of nuisance beaver complaints. This year is no exception. It is too late in the year to live trap and remove beaver to a more suitable location, as they don’t have time to build a home and lay in a food supply before winter arrives. Water control devices can be effective but water temperatures limit this remedy to the summer season. Legitimate trapping during the legal beaver trapping season still remains the most effective and efficient method of addressing beaver problems at the landscape level.

Waterfowl hunters I have spoken with have classified the waterfowl season so far as very productive. I was recently asked to help confirm the identity of two ducks taken along the Sebasticook River. Redhead duck and American Wigeon are two species of duck that are rare but regular visitors to central Maine. There is something about the richness of the Sebasticook river that seems to attract these species as well as Gadwall, Northern Pintail and Ruddy ducks. A bumper crop of Canada Geese continues to provide goose hunters with plenty of action. Try Sebasticook Lake, Unity Pond and dairy farms in Kennebec County if you’re still looking for places to hunt.

-Keel Kemper, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region C - Downeast

A brand new hiking trail has been established at the Dennison Point Unit of the Cobscook Bay Wildlife Management Area through the hard work of staff and volunteers of the Cobscook Community Learning Center (CCLC). The CCLC’s campus is adjacent to the state-owned Dennison Point Unit and the staff there thought a joint hiking trail would be a great addition that meshes well with the missions of both the CCLC and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The trail was laid out in the spring of 2006 by staff of both the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the CCLC, but the hard work of actually clearing and marking the trail was done by CCLC staff and volunteers. Most recently, a group of students from Machias Memorial High School spent a day hauling in materials and building a series of bridges to prevent erosion (and wet feet).

For a great loop hike, park at the CCLC parking lot on Commissary Point Road in Trescott. If the CCLC is open, feel free to stop in and see what interesting opportunities are available. The new section of trail is about 1 mile long and winds through a variety of habitat types and forests of different ages. Although the trail is brand new, deer and other wildlife are already using it. At the top of a hill, the new trail meets the pre-existing trail at Dennison Point. You can turn right and return to the CCLC by way of a half-mile hike along a grassy lane and public road. If you’re up for a longer hike, turn left and continue along the grassy lane through a series of fields. The unmarked trails and fields can be a little disorienting here, so bring a compass. East brings you back to the public road; west brings you out to the end of the peninsula. Fortunately Dennison Point is surrounded by water on 3 sides, so you won’t get too lost. I’ve rarely hiked the area without seeing partridge and the signs of coyote, deer, bear, porcupine and hares, not to mention the hordes of crows, ravens and songbirds that take advantage of the abundant food sources in this diverse habitat. There is also an old homestead site and cemetery hidden among the fields. When you’ve explored enough, hike back down the grassy lane and return to the CCLC by the public road or cut back through the new trail for a slightly longer return trip.

More information is available from the regional office of IF&W at 434-5927 or the Cobscook Community Learning Center at 733-2233 or www.thecclc.org.

Keep in mind that hunting is allowed on this and most other Wildlife Management Areas statewide. Blaze orange is required for hunters, but highly recommended for everyone out enjoying the autumn woods.

-Rich Bard, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

This past week was moose season for all Wildlife Management Districts in Region D. Biologists worked at four different check stations throughout the region collecting biological data from hunter-harvested moose. The data collected is very important for managing moose in our state, and hunters play a key role in the data collection process by bringing their moose to these check stations to be examined. We appreciate the cooperation from hunters allowing us to collect this information. These check stations not only allow biologists to collect information about the moose population, but also provide the opportunity to find out what is happening around the region.

I was stationed in Rangeley Monday through Wednesday. The weather was beautiful and I was able to talk to a variety of different people including: moose-hunters, bird-hunters, guides, wildlife-watchers, leaf peepers and local people just dropping into the store. During my 3-day stay we gathered data from 47 moose, which included several nice bulls in the 55-58” range. Judging reports from people traveling around the back roads, it seems as though grouse numbers in Region D are variable and spotty. Some folks had seen plenty of birds, while others hadn’t seen any. So, if you are hunting partridge and are able to put in some time you should be able to pick up a few birds.

- Bob Cordes, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

My day was getting more congested by 4PM recently (Working on the paper trail with various deadlines, plus phone calls) when into HQ walked a local fellow & child with something in a jar to be identified, if possible. I had seen this kind of invertebrate before, and should have known what it was immediately, but I was drawing a blank. Invertebrate zoology is not, and never has been, my forte. It wasn't until my third attempt that I got past it in my studies, for I didn't see the application. I consulted the dictionary, and then the internet, when asked if it was a relative of spiders. Finally something clicked. I knew what it was, a pseudo scorpion... venomous, but only of big concern to small insects, more beneficial than detrimental and not known to rapidly proliferate. This predator travels singly or in small numbers. It probably got into his house with the firewood. He left very relieved. And it looked as if I knew my stuff. This kind of work isn't my category, but from time to time we are asked to identify all sorts of specimens from nature for the public; horsehail worms, elodea, nestlings, and others.

We are now recovering from the second moose season; getting specimens & data organized, and preparing for the next issue.

- Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

A few Sunday’s back, I had the pleasure of joining members of both the Orono and Bangor Land Trusts for a brief dedication of two new parcels of land that have been recently acquired.

One parcel is referred to as the Hinds-Keleti Easement and is administered by the Orono Land Trust, and the second is MDIFW’s new Caribou Bog Wildlife Management Area. Both of these lands are part of a larger initiative by the Trusts referred to as the Caribou Bog-Penjajawoc Project.

One of the primary goals of the Project is a conservation/recreation corridor connecting Bangor, Veazie, Orono, Old Town, Alton, and Hudson with larger unbroken blocks of wildlife habitat to the north. The Project also represents a regional effort to apply the practices of MDIFW’s “Beginning With Habitat (BWH) Program. The adjoining acquisitions are the result of a collaboration between the Orono and Bangor Land Trusts with major funding from the Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMFB), and the Maine Department Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

This past week, I met up again with folks from the Orono Land Trust and we spent a few hours laying out a cross-country ski trail that will traverse thru the WMA and will also be a part of the trail for The Great Caribou Bog Wicked Winter Ski Race and Tour that is held annually.

Another ongoing WMA project is focused on our Page Farm Property (part of the Mattawamkeag River WMA) located in Drew Plantation and bordering the Mattawamkeag River. This 1200-acre parcel is part of a National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Superfund Project. The focus of the project is to initiate habitat management practices that will benefit the eastern wild turkey. Work will focus initially on reclaiming several acres of abandoned fields.

In addition to NWTF’s Superfund Project, MDIFW is working along side the Penobscot County Natural Resource Conservation Service and has initiated a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project (WHIP) on the WMA. Wildlife practices included in this effort include establishing perennial vegetative cover, tree and shrub establishment and pruning, upland wildlife habitat management (bushhogging), and roadwork. We are in the second year of a five-year contract with the WHIP project. Similar WHIP projects are also ongoing on our Dwinal Pond and Bud Leavitt WMA’s.

-Mark Caron, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

Recently I spent some time working on one of our newest wildlife management areas, the Pollard Flat Wildlife Management Area in Masardis. This WMA is part of an extensive floodplain or lowland area along the Aroostook River that occurs between Masardis and Ashland. The large size of the floodplain has resulted in the creation of many wetlands and islands along this section of river, and some great habitat diversity for many wildlife species.

My task or project on this new WMA was to locate and flag out all the WMA boundaries and obtain GPS coordinates on all cornerposts. A simple task, but a crucial first step prior to initiating management programs. Also the records we keep become very important because of an increasing WMA landbase and the need to have a database for reference in dealing with various wildlife management issues.

Working on these property lines also increases our knowledge of these new land parcels and often allows us to start planning for various management activities. For example, working on Pollard Flat I found out we do own part of an old field that I had always assumed belonged to an adjacent landowner. Also, while flagging property lines I noticed that many small wetlands that showed on some old aerial photographs have changed dramatically because of recent flooding caused by new beaver dams. These wetlands are now much larger and being heavily used by waterfowl, particularly wood ducks. Also observed on this property are some of the largest balsam fir trees (approximately 24” diameter) I’ve ever seen in northern Maine. The rich alluvial floodplain soils make for great growing conditions, and the lowland topography does provide some protection from high winds that would normally topple such large trees. All of these WMA properties are open to the public for a variety of recreational activities, however, if you really want to see these areas, I suggest that you take the time to go for a walk or hike.

Every 3-5 years in northern Maine we seem to have a very heavy mast crop. Every type of plant or species from the large conifers to the small shrubs will produce a bumper seed crop. This fall does seem to be a bumper seed year. We have very heavy mast crops of beechnuts, high-bush cranberries, hawthorn, apples, and mountain ash. All this food does influence wildlife behavior; for example, grouse hunters are now reporting finding grouse on beech ridges in the forestlands, and mostly in hawthorn and high-bush cranberries bushes in the farmland. Grouse are showing up fairly well, with most hunters getting some birds, and on the right day or under good weather conditions shooting their bag limit.

Saturday, October 21, is youth day for young deer hunters under age 16. This is a great opportunity to teach our youth about hunting and we recommend adult hunters take this day and use it as an opportunity to teach all aspects of ethical hunting and not over-emphasize the need to harvest a deer. Obviously, the end result is to harvest a deer, but it’s also important for youth hunters to learn the many steps that are often required to make a successful kill. Sometimes deer hunters get lucky, but generally a successful season means pre-scouting before the season, shooting practice, setting up stands, and mostly, lots of patience.

Because of the previous mild winters and high deer survival this should be a great season for youth hunters in Aroostook County. With the cooler weather, deer are increasingly showing-up in fields. Just remember to first ask for hunting permission and include in the hunt some of the many outdoor and hunting skills that will be needed later on during the regular firearm season on deer.

-Arlen Lovewell, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Submitted by :

Mark Latti
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
fax 207-287-6395
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

For More Outdoor Information, and Sporting Licenses 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.