Old News Archive

Outdoor Report - November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

As predictable a natural phenomena as sunrise and sunset, the peak of the white-tailed deer rut is upon us. This is because the deer’s endocrine system and the hormones it produces is closely tied to the amount of daylight. This reproductive cycle has evolved such that fawns are born at a time of year that coincides with favorable weather and abundant food supply in the spring. What this means to the hunter is that many does are in estrus and bucks will be on their trail, and often traveling farther afield in pursuit of them. Does are likely wandering beyond their most familiar home range as well. Bucks will step up their efforts on advertising their dominance with new rubs. Though some does have already been bred, others will be receptive for this week and beyond. If the area you have been hunting receives high hunting pressure, it may be wise to explore those scrub-oak thickets, ridge tops and less accessible forested wetlands. Based upon our collection of deer data at local meat cutters and registration stations, this week is usually when older bucks comprise a greater proportion of the kill than sub-adults.

Though I promised not to divulge the specifics, I have seen good numbers of harvested deer and a good number of bucks dressing out in the 200 lbs range from the Norway/South Paris area and from the York county towns of Waterboro, Shapleigh and Hollis. Of these latter sites, there are two Department owned Wildlife Management Areas in the vicinity; Killick Pond WMA in Hollis and Vern Walker WMA in Newfield.

As part of our monitoring efforts for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), regional staff has a quota of deer that must be sampled through examination of the brainstem and lymph nodes. This requires that the heads of harvested deer be collected and sent to a central processing facility in central Maine. We are still in need of samples from the following towns; Albany Twp., Cornish, Fryeburg, Porter, Acton, Casco, Raymond, Westbrook and Naples. If you have harvested a deer from any of these towns, please contact me at 657-2345 x 110 or Scott.Lindsay@maine.gov . Your assistance in this effort is much appreciated. Remember, though CWD has not been found in the deer sampled in Maine, the Department has taken steps to minimize this risk including the law making it illegal to bring cervid carcasses from any U.S. state or Canadian province. See the specifics on this law on pg. 48 of the 2007/2008 Laws and Rules Book or view it online at www.mefishwildlife.com .

-Scott Lindsay, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

This is just a quick update from Region B on things as we rush into the office between checking deer lockers for biological information. At this time of year we switch from busy to overdrive. The biggest deer I have heard of was a field dressed 250-pound buck. I haven’t seen any information on where it came from. The biggest buck I have actually seen was an eight pointer weighing 214 pounds taken in Readfield. The biggest yearling buck was a four pointer weighing 138 pounds. The biggest yearling rack was on a 6 pointer that was in the 130-pound range. The biggest fawn I have seen is a 65 pounder. The biggest doe I have seen was taken in Winslow and weighed 140 pounds.

I am out looking at deer 7 days a week this time of year. It has become a pleasant routine visiting with all my cooperators. These folks do so much for deer management in the state by providing access to these deer at their businesses. Daily, they take the time to get the harvest date, town of kill, weight and seal number from the hunters when the deer are brought in for cutting and wrapping. The information the cutters record is combined with the age and sex information the biologist takes when they look at the deer. This information is crucial for IFW in tracking the overall health and productivity of the herd. Your cooperation and patience when dropping off a deer at one of our cooperating lockers is appreciated.

The good fall weather has pushed our outdoor work window so we are rushing to get projects wrapped up. Ryan Robicheau and Mark Martin of our Lands Program have been working with a contractor to get the Getchell Road at Frye Mountain into shape. New culverts, ditching, grading, and gravel are all part of an extensive plan to get our roads at the mountain back in to shape. We surely miss Linwood Curtis who was stationed at Frye Mountain for years and mowed fields and graded roads. That position was eliminated several years ago to meet a budget reduction quota. Since then our roads have suffered greatly without that careful attention.

The work now being done by Ryan and Mark will continue on as a portion of the roads are redone each year bringing them up to the new standards that minimize erosion. This work will also make it easier to maintain the roads in the future. A key part to that road maintenance plan is a seasonal road closure during the early winter before freeze up and also during the early spring during mud season. We do open the management area to snowmobiling once we get snow. The Department of Conservation provides trail-grooming services for Frye Mountain. The roadwork we are doing is paid for with revenue received from a recent wildlife habitat improvement timber harvest conducted at Frye Mountain. The revenue from timber harvests on IFW lands has been dedicated to the management of IFW’s Wildlife Management Areas under an agreement between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Maine. So not only do we get better habitat on our management areas, we can also cover some of the costs associated with managing the land and maintaining public access.

On another note in my outdoor report a couple of weeks ago I mentioned a cleanup project we had just finished in Windsor. It turned out we actually had cleaned up 20,980 pounds of demolition debris in just those two days. This was considerable more than the 6,000 pounds I had guessed. It seems a 40 yard dumpster is harder to guess the weight of than a moose or deer. While this was a new record for Region B, it is one I hope not to surpass in the near future. Any one who has information on the illegal dumping of roofing materials in the Windsor area please feel free to contact Operation Game Thief. Any dollars we spend on this type of cleanup means fewer dollars are available for actual wildlife management.

-Jim Connolly, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region C - Downeast

We have all observed that people have different eating habits and mannerisms, so do different species of wildlife. This was again brought to my attention by watching a group of birds, seagulls and crows, feasting on some cast off french fries at a McDonalds. The gulls, would take one fry at a time, arrange it lengthwise, like a fish, tilt their head back and swallow it in one big gulp. Unlike a fish, this food was pliable and could of been eaten as found but the birds still followed their learned behavior. The crows on the other hand, would stuff as many fries as they could crosswise in their mouth, like puffins with small herring, then take off to eat them alone. This was recently so it wasn't a female bringing home supper to the nest. Both birds have learned ways to safe guard their prize or it would be taken away from them. It is common to see gulls in a tug of war over food. Crows are even more aggressive and will drive a larger bird, eagles, off a carcass. Both types can be fun to watch when they descend and compete in a feeding frenzy.

Late fall has finally arrive, I observed the first flock of bufflehead ducks on October 31, almost two weeks later than average. Likewise, as the freeze up is happening inland the black ducks are grouping in the salt water. The big lakes are still open and the golden eyes haven't been pushed to the coast yet. Forty years ago, it was a prize to shoot a drake mallard in Washington County. Today there are independent flocks of mallards and it is common for most every large concentration of black ducks to have mallards mixed in, even the odd pintail.

Speaking of black ducks, as most hunters will tell you, they can be the wariest and finicky of all ducks to hunt. Most all species wildlife can have their habits altered by artificial feeding. It is hard to imagine sitting in a blind and not getting black ducks to "toll" because something doesn't look "right" to them and then to see black ducks on lawns and kids almost hand feeding them bread, the same species.

-James Hall, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

This week brought a dusting of snow and colder temperatures to the high elevations north of Rangeley to the delight of many deer hunters and skiers. The colder temperatures and the shortening days are coinciding perfectly to make an early rut very possible within the next week. We received a report of an estrus doe shot in the Eustis area and observed several large swollen bucks in the Rangeley region. We observed a few bucks in the 225+ pound range taken near Weld and Rangeley. Overall hunting pressure increased as the week drew to a close, mainly due to the rain earlier in the week. We have also seen increasing number of non-resident hunters enjoying the break in the weather the past few days. Keep in mind November is also a great time to hunt upland game such as ruffed grouse, woodcock and snowshoe hare. The snowshoe hare are starting to turn white, making them easier to pick out against the forest floor.

The conclusion of Daylight Savings Time effectively marks the end of sitting on the deer stand after work for many people around the state. It also translates into high hunting pressure on the last three Saturdays of the regular firearms season. This increased pressure when combined with the rut can benefit hunters that sit near clearings or twitch roads, as a preoccupied deer is more likely to be moving through the woods. And with increased hunters in the woods, especially on these last few Saturdays, we need to make sure of our targets and respect the landowner’s property.

Hunters who have already tagged deer within the Region D are encouraged to help the Wildlife division in our collections of biological and CWD samples. We are in need of more samples from Magalloway and Coplin Plantation, Rangeley, Kingfield, the Andover area and Peru, Lexington, The Forks and Moscow. If you happen to kill deer from these areas give us a call at the Strong office at 778-3324.

- Ethan Tracy, Wildlife Technician

Region E - Moosehead Region

In recent years I have been called out quite a few times to investigate someone’s “wolf” sighting or discovery of “wolf” tracks. These excursions have taken me to Sapling, Guilford, Dover, Alder Brook Twp, Beattie Twp, Greenville, Bowerbank, Lobster Twp, and T4-R17 WELS. Call me a skeptic; for a long time we figured wolves in ME were extinct. When I was called to these places, when I could draw a conclusion, I figured the tracks were left by coyotes (Not large enough to not be a coyote), but in one instance, it was a large hound, probably left in the woods by cat hunters. The sact was the deciding factor. There later was a wolf in Guilford that was later shot and determined definitively to be of captive origin. It had been neutered.

There have been other wolves here, one was shot by a bear hunter (who was fined) near Lost Pd in T 5-R16 WELS in the 1990s. That animal acted oddly for a wild wolf. It closely approached campers, as if it was accustomed to being around people, shortly before it found the bear bait.

Soon after that, partially full dog food bags were found in the vicinity of where another “wolf” was picked up.

Meanwhile one or two authenticated wolves have been taken in the province of Quebc, south of the St Lawrence in recent years. To Quebec authorities, there remains the question of whether they got there on their own.

A few days back I received a clipping from the Vermont Journal, dated 10/10/07. The drift of the article was that a 92 pound coyote-like animal shot in Vermont a year ago had been identified by the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensics lab as having had parentage that included two widely separated (geographically) varieties of wolves. They suggested that particular animal was not likely the result of breeding that occurred in the wild, but rather was derived from captive animals. The question remains though, did it escape or was it stocked?

Note well, As far as I know our Maine “coyotes” peak at approximately 56 pounds.

-Bill Noble, Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

The second week of firearm season for our whitetails brought cooler temperatures and better hunting conditions. Check stations I chatted with were busy, but the second week usually tends to be a bit on the slower side. In talking to hunters as well as my own observations, good rutting sign seemed to be starting to show up more consistently as expected. Big buck hunters full of confidence have just been sitting back waiting for the third week to get underway. That’s when they get serious about hunting deer. The third week for all will be more active as the “peak of the rut” kicks in and deer begin to move more during the day, especially if cooler temperatures stay in place. However, as we all know, the “big boys” may still stay nocturnal.

Hunter effort this past week seemed to be up from last year during the second week at least in most places. I spoke with a few folks located in the northern portion of our Region, and it was their opinion that the hunters were not there in their usual abundance. With people worried about the economy, or gas prices specifically, it will be interesting to see how hunter effort plays out these last two weeks.

The Penobscot Region is participating with the ongoing statewide effort to collect Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance samples. The sampling is going pretty well this year; the portions of Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) 4, 5, 9, 10, 14, 17 and 26 that lie within the Region have been completed. However, we still need your help in collecting samples from WMDs 11, 18 and 19. More specifically, we need samples from the towns of Brookton, Danforth, Haynesville, Carroll and Lagrange. If you harvest a deer from one of these towns and are interested in helping the Department with this sampling effort, please contact the Enfield Regional Office at (207) 732-4132. Your assistance with this effort will be greatly appreciated!

-Mark Caron, Regional Wildlife Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

The third week of deer season is upon us and here in the North Country the hunters start coming into the lodges and camps. It’s not like it use to be, when the first and second week of deer season had all motels, camps, and lodges full. Speaking to camp owners and motels around the Ashland and Portage areas, there seems to be very few hunters booking reservations the first and second week, but bookings are full for the third and forth week. Another good indicator on how much hunter effort is out there is to check the North Maine Woods gate receipts. The North Maine Woods are managed gates for industrial landowner into unorganized territory, and anyone going through these gates must fill out paperwork on where they are going and type of use. This information is quite interesting in indicating hunter effort throughout October and November. The receipts from the first and second week indicated very few hunters were entering the “Big Woods” for deer hunting, and now with Canadian hunters needing a Maine Registered Guide there should be even fewer hunters.

What seems to be the driving force that hunters are looking for up in these parts, is snow. Snow enables the hunter to direct their hunt to a location where there has been recent deer sign, primarily tracks, or deer beds. With pre-hunt populations only around 2-3 deer per square mile, hunters are looking for any advantage they can find in locating the game. By reading tracks in snow, at least the hunter knows they are hunting in a location where there has been deer recently, and their chances of observing a deer, and hopefully bagging a trophy buck, are considerable better then on dry ground. Snow also offers the hunter the ability to track, by moving slowly along recently laid tracks, where the hunter stalks his prey, to perhaps get close enough to view and harvest a trophy white-tailed deer. Out in the western part of the region there is presently 6-8 inches of snow on the high ground, and 3-4 inches at lower elevation while in the eastern part of the region only about 1 inch of snow.

-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

For More Information, Please Contact:

Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

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