Old News Archive

Outdoor Report - October 2, 2007

October 02, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on Monday, the migratory waterfowl season will open, statewide. For Region A staff, this is a welcome day in the field conversing with hunters and collecting data on the waterfowl harvest at Brownfield Bog Wildlife Management Area in Brownfield. As we were in 2006, we will be joined by USDA staff for both agencies continued efforts of surveillance for the H5NI strain of Avian Influenza. Results of the 2006 bag check at this site showed that the wood duck was most popular with the 20 hunting parties checked, followed by black ducks, mallards, a few blue-winged teal and a pintail. Region A is pleased to welcome Judy Walker to the wildlife staff. She has over a decade of experience with wildlife issues in southern Maine and beyond. Judy is an active bird bander and very competent in the identification of birds by both sight and sound. Her insight will be much appreciated at this year’s bag check and the many other tasks of regional staff.

Brownfield Bog WMA is a 5,700 acre complex of wetlands uplands associated with the Saco River near the Maine/New Hampshire border. The wetlands are extensive and diverse in type; providing both nesting habitat for resident ducks and resting habitat for migratory waterfowl. The uplands surrounding the wetland are of exceptional quality, providing both mast for wood ducks and other mammals and important wintering habitat for deer. These forests are currently in the third year of a managed harvest under the direction of the department’s forester and regional wildlife staff.

Wildlife, Fisheries and Warden Service staff will also be working at the Department’s booth in the Forestry Resource Building at the Fryeburg Fair this week. This will provide a good opportunity for the public to discuss any resource management issues of interest.

The fall hunting season begins early in Region A within several expanded archery zones for deer. These sites are located in designated portions of WMD 24, Lewiston, Greater Portland, Eliot, and the islands of WMD 29. Deer are abundant in these locations, yet due to the extent of development, hunting with firearms is not permitted or feasible. The informal discussions I have had with bear hunters and district wardens in the region, suggest that bear were frequently visiting bait sites in the two areas traditionally receiving the greatest bear hunting effort; northern York County and Oxford County.

Birds of all kinds are on our minds this time of year. Thousands of shorebirds are still moving through coastal Maine, making pit-stops at the many estuaries and beaches on their long journeys to the southern hemisphere. When conditions are right, hundreds of hawks can be observed on their diurnal migrations from many vantage points within the region, including Mt. Agamenticus in York and Bradbury Mt. in Pownal. In addition to the statewide season on grouse and woodcock, parts of central and southern Maine are open to fall archery hunting for turkey and all WMD’s within Region A will be open to both archery and shotgun for turkey. Please see the specifics on season dates and open districts in this year’s law book. York and Cumberland counties will also provide opportunity for hunting ring-necked pheasant at designated stocking sites for those who have purchased pheasant stamps. For a list and maps of these sites, please see the Department’s website at www.mefishwildlife.com . Thanks to all members of cooperating Fish and Game clubs for your significant efforts in assisting with this program.

-Scott Lindsay, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

A congratulatory tip of the hat to the fishery biologists who have kept us informed of their work within each region via these weekly updates. That fishery science is nothing short of rocket science. Thanks for making it understandable and helping me put more fish in my creel!

The fall hunting seasons are just around the corner and I am about as excited as an evangelical preacher at a tent revival. I got particularly enthused when two weekends ago I woke up at my hunting partner’s house to look out the guest room window and standing in the field were three nice bucks, all definite shooters with racks wider than their body. It’s definitely going to be a good deer season in 2007. I got my any deer permit, an easy accomplishment for hunters in WMD 23. I did not get a bonus permit, thanks in part to what I refer to as those carpetbaggers who live in one zone, but who apply for another zone where the chance of getting a bonus permit is greater. I am not complaining, it’s all a game of chance so pay your money and take your throw.

I’ve done enough pre-hunt scouting for deer to qualify as possessed. I find it particularly useful to scout during the late summer months. The ground vegetation is so dense that is becomes very easy to see where deer are literally beating a path through the woods. When I can find several well-established trails that intersect along various edge habitat types, I consider this a good spot for an opening day stand. I have one stand left to erect before October and then I let them blend into their surroundings for a good month of so before opening day. Deer can smell twenty times better than humans. The most important thing you can do to increase your chance of success is to control your ground scent and your air scent. Putting your stand up two days before the season will successfully stink up the woods for opening day. Use of scent blockers, rubber boots and any and all techniques that eliminate scent can only help in your pursuit of a nice buck. I used to think all the effort to eliminate scent was just good marketing and hyperbole. I’ve grown older and wiser now and know the error of my ways.

A couple of years ago, while attending the largest sportsman show in the east located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I discovered what I consider the holy grail of portable deer stand. Now mind you I’ve been a connoisseur of deer stands ever since I tied a lazy boy recliner into a giant sweet-gum tree and hunted swamp bucks along the Flint River in South Georgia. I have used portable tree climbers, ladder stands, ground blinds and forked tree limbs. All have their advantages and distinct disadvantages. Once I discovered the Woodsy too quad pod, I will never use anything else. I simply cannot find a flaw in the design or the functionality of this deer stand. With a 360 degree rotating seat, a gun rest that double as a frame for a blind and light enough to be portable, I assure you this deer stand is the best on the market. Check them out online.

-Keel Kemper, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region C - Downeast

Autumn has arrived Downeast, no doubt about it. Cool mornings, warm afternoons and no mosquitoes. Does it get any better? It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the woods, whether you are hiking, hunting, bird watching, leaf-peeping or whatever your preferred activity. A great resource for finding places to explore in Eastern Washington County is the booklet “Cobscook Trails: a guide to walking opportunities around Cobscook Bay and the Bold Coast Region.” The booklet describes 19 places where you are welcome to explore the coastal forests, hills and scenic shorelines of this beautiful area. By the way, Cobscook Trails is a non-profit project. All money from the sale of the booklets goes toward trail maintenance and management of the areas.

The 3rd edition of the booklet was published this summer and it has several improvements over past editions, including 5 new sites from Calais to Campobello Island. Find the book at local retailers, or call Quoddy Regional Land Trust at 733-5509.

The trails described include 3 Units of the Cobscook Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a complex of Department-owned lands primarily managed for wildlife habitat, but also open to traditional forms of recreation, including hiking, skiing, hunting and trapping.

The Dennison Point Unit of the Cobscook Bay WMA, described in the Commissary Point Area section of the booklet, is scheduled for substantial habitat management work this winter. The western tip of this peninsula is mostly alders and other early successional species, interspersed with fields that are mowed annually. Alder stands provide good habitat for woodcock, but over time that value declines as the alder stems become more horizontal and grasses and forbs become dominant in the understory.

This winter, six blocks, about an acre each, will be clearcut to provide needed habitat for woodcock and a suite of other species that rely on early successional forest. This work is a project of the Wildlife Management Institute’s “Northern Forest Woodcock Initiative,” which is a partnership of the Institute’s and 29 agencies and organizations including the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Dennison Point, and the nearby Morong Cove Unit (also described in the Cobscook Trails booklet), will serve as demonstration areas where the public can learn about early successional habitat management.

Later in the season we may go into more detail about the work to be done, but in the meantime, if you have any interest in the project, you may want to take a hike and see what the area looks like now.

For more information about Cobscook Bay Wildlife Management Area or the habitat management work at Dennison Point, call the Regional Wildlife staff at 434-5927.

-Rich Bard, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

This week marks the beginning of several open hunting seasons, including: ruffed grouse, gray squirrel, snowshoe hare, and regular duck season. It also marks the time of year when all other regional projects need to be completed as we gear up for data collections throughout hunting season. Throughout the spring and summer, we get involved in a variety of different projects, ranging from surveys of breeding birds to reviewing development proposals to identify potential impacts to wildlife or special habitats.

This summer the regional wildlife staff helped conduct surveys for rusty blackbirds and Tomah mayflies. Both species are known to occur in western Maine, but are rare. The rusty blackbird is a species of special concern and the Tomah mayfly is a state listed threatened species. The surveys consisted of searching many locations throughout the region in favored habitats of both species. For the rusty blackbird we checked each survey site by playing a series of pre-recorded rusty blackbird calls from a digital speaker system in order to elicit a response from a resident bird. To survey for the Tomah mayfly we used a canoe to drift a section of stream and stopped at sites with potential habitat for the mayfly. At the site we swiped a net through aquatic vegetation, where mayfly nymphs are associated at that time of year in hope of capturing the species. As expected we found plenty of the more common species at our surveys sites, but we were successful in identifying several new locations for both of these animals in the western mountains.

- Bob Cordes, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

Once again this year in August and September I was catching ducks to band in cooperation with our Bangor office. The good news is that at long last we now have more advanced equipment. The trouble with baited traps is that they have to be tended daily, and sometimes they are visited by racoons. Due to the cost of gas, the cost of checking traps daily has escalated dramatically.

What we have now is a called a “Q net,” a Rube Goldberg kind of device developed by two Texas inventors, and built on demand. It is propelled by bungy cords attached to two arms fastened to a rectangular net, 16 x 25 ft, and to platforms spiked to the ground. The net is set off by an IR switch like a TV remote which sends a signal to a receiver which actuates solenoids retracting pins, releasing the arms (under tension) which loft the folded net over the birds.

The first four shots yielded approximately 60 ducks. Eventually another 30 were caught, but not as effortlessly. Ducks learn quickly that the net is some kind of threat.

- Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

The September moose season dominated last week’s hunting activity throughout the northern portion of Region F with WMDs 4, 5, 6, 11, and 19 keeping some of our 10 moose check stations busy. With very little exception, all of the tagging stations were reporting lower numbers of moose. Very warm temperatures certainly may be to blame with moose perhaps not moving about as much in the heat and humidity. Still, some nice bulls were reported with the Springfield General Store tagging a bull that dressed out at 1,080 pounds, and a few other that came thru up north in the 900 pound class.

Hunting really kicks into high gear beginning Monday. Partridge, gray squirrel, snowshoe hare, raccoon, woodcock, and duck hunting all began with the regular statewide bow season for deer having begun last Thursday September 27. Reports from the field suggest a better year for our ground nesters. Several grouse and turkey broods were reported suggesting a good nesting year. Grouse of late have started to show up in my travels, and we have observed several turkey broods; usually a couple of hens with several poults that are getting some size to them. The regular duck season begins today. I have heard several flocks of geese migrating through along the Penobscot River and by moonlight as well. Water levels are not as high as they were last fall, which hopefully will keep ducks from spreading out as much as they were able to last fall. Keep in mind too that this is the “off year” for beechnuts, and acorns do not seem to be plentiful at all, at least where I have been. However the wild apple trees are loaded this year.

It’s also just a great time to be out of doors, no gun needed. Days are still warm and comfortable, and with the foliage hitting it’s peak in the northern half of the state, it’s a great time to get out for a walk or a late season paddle. Consider visiting any of our wildlife management areas (wma’s) throughout the state. In Region F, enjoyable paddling can be had on several of the management areas including the Francis Dunn WMA located up in T6 R7 WELS and including Sawtelle Deadwater, or perhaps the Dwinal Pond WMA located in Winn and Lee, or along Madagodus Stream, part of which is included in the Madagodus Stream WMA. The “Godus”, empties into the Mattawamkeag River just upriver from Kingman. This stretch of the “Keag” is largely slow, quiet waters perfect for a relaxing day of paddling. Get out and enjoy.

-Mark Caron, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

Region G is about 80% into peak fall color, and the first week of moose season has come to a close. This sure has been one of the most unusual seasons in some time with extreme temperatures 20-30 degrees above normal for this time of year. Central Maine was in the 90’s while Northern Maine hit 85 degrees. Monday through Wednesday all stations in the North Country were reporting 30-40% below normal harvest registration numbers but as the week progressed with cooler temperatures some normality compared to 2006 moose harvest numbers were reported. Actual registration numbers through Saturday evening from Ashland, New Sweden, and Fort Kent were 196, 91, and 82. All three stations were down by 11%, 30%, and 9%. This reduction in harvest is not unusual considering temperatures and the fact that moose were not moving the first three days. Were looking forward to cooler temperatures the second week of the moose hunt and hopefully some bulls will still be in rut.

Ruffed Grouse season starts this week October 1 and preliminary reports are indicating a good season due to excellent recruitment and success of broods getting through the first 2-3 weeks of hatching. The daily limit is 4; and possession of 8. For those of us who like to wing shoot don’t forget woodcock that opens October 1. The daily limit is 3; and possession of 6. Those aspen and alder habitats can produce endless hours of excitement either with your dog or just pushing through them. Speaking to one avid woodcock hunter this week, many more birds were in traditional hunting areas compared to previous years. Not only does Partridge and Woodcock season start this week but regular goose season also starts October 1, with daily limit of 2; and possession of 4.

The special one-day youth waterfowl hunt was once again a tremendous success with many parents taking their sons and daughters out to spend some quality time in the outdoors. One such hunter sent me an email thanking the department for offering these youth hunts. I’ve enclosed a picture and comment from this hunter attesting to the success of these hunts

“I wanted to let you know that we had another great youth duck day adventure! My 13-year old and I went on the Aroostook River and he used decoys and did some jump shooting. He shot eight birds including two wood ducks, a hooded merganser, a blue winged teal, and four common mergansers.

Too many times, you hear only the whining and the griping when it comes to department issues. These youth days are super and thanks for your efforts and opportunity in this area!”

For a look at this happy teenage hunter with his birds, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/weekly_reports/index.htm#regiong

-Rich Hoppe, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, DIFW

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.