Readers answer age-old hunting question

At the end of a day of deer hunting, the question is simple and constant. And whether in front of a blazing wood stove at a remote hunting camp or while leaning on the tailgate of a buddy’s pickup, the day’s not complete until it’s answered.

“See anything?”

Hunting buddy Chris ponders the age-old question after a day in the woods.

We ask that question, and we answer it. Maybe three times a year, maybe a dozen, depending on how lucky we are, and how much time we get to spend afield. But on those common days when shots aren’t fired, when deer aren’t tagged, when fingers are frozen and miles have passed beneath our feet, the query — and the response — serve as the final punctuation on another outdoor adventure.

On Tuesday, I posed a variation of that question to readers of my blog, “Out There.” Instead of focusing on a single day, however, I wanted to get a few snapshots of the season we’re enjoying (or suffering through, depending on your perspective).

That question: How’s your deer season going?
The plight of the state’s deer herd, especially the deer in Down East and northern Maine, has been well-documented. I wasn’t necessarily looking for explanations from readers. Instead, I was looking for a few unabashedly anecdotal reports from those willing to share their information. As they say, your mileage may vary.

I’ll start off: In the piece of woods I frequent, I’ve seen nothing. Well, almost nothing. I did see two dead deer that someone dumped … but I’ve already written a fair bit about that episode. Encouragingly, I know there’s at least one buck working the woods near my stand. He has made a line of scrapes, and is visiting them frequently.

On the discouraging side of my personal hunting ledger is this: I haven’t heard many gunshots in the nearby woods … or in the distance, for that matter. Call me optimistic, but even on the days when I’m seeing nothing but squirrels, a gunshot is a welcome sound. I get a bit of a vicarious energy boost when I realize that someone, somewhere, has actually seen a deer.

Now, it’s your turn. Here’s what some blog readers had to say:

From Al Whitney of Lincoln:

“I have seen five deer, in the Corinth/Levant area,” he wrote. “One doe with two lambs, two small bucks, the larger of the two I shot: five-point, 122 pounds, maybe 2.5 years old. Trail cams reveal about the same deer activity as the last few years.”

From Greg DeBeck of Blue Hill:

“So far this season I’ve seen eight deer, all in a bunch, all does and lambs, from my kitchen window, on my lawn in the middle of the day, right smack in the middle of Blue Hill — they’re all over the place here,” he wrote.

“Also saw, last Sunday on the trail behind Sand Beach in Acadia (where hunting is not allowed), a nice doe, a nice six- or eight-point (couldn’t tell for sure) and a REAL nice nine-point which was actually laying down taking a snooze. The deer sure know where they are safe to hide out. I don’t hunt anymore, but I’ve talked to several hunters who have seen nothing this year.”

From Dan Farrington of Verona:

“I’ve seen countless deer after hours hanging out in the fields of Orrington and Verona Island. The big boys seem to haunt the fields at night,” he wrote. “I have seen about a total of 20 deer this year, a few small bucks, lots of does and lambs. The first week I saw a big piebald doe, which was very entertaining to say the least.”

And in the areas he hunts, Farrington said the herd seems to be faring pretty well.

“[This is] the most deer I’ve seen in one season since I was probably 17 or 18 years old, so I would say an improvement for the most part!” he wrote.

And finally my favorite response, from Jason Edwards, who hunts in Levant:

“Gun shots have been few and far between at best. The deer sign is OK, but nothing to get overly excited about. By the looks of the deer sign in Levant, I expect the deer roaming my hunting grounds are young,” he wrote. “More or less this year I have been sitting in my ground blind contemplating how I am going to open up the old tote roads on my property and how I can attract more deer onto our property. We did encounter black bear sign and are aware of several coyotes on our property.”

That doesn’t mean that Edwards has had a washout of a season. Not even close.

“The highlight of the year thus far was on Saturday morning,” he wrote. “My 10-year old son and I were walking into our ground blind and on the way we encountered eight or 10  turkeys roosting. We were able to watch them all take flight. Pretty amazing!”

And in a season short of memories revolving around deer, the sight of those turkeys left father and son with a story they’ll tell for a long time.

“My son was quick to say that if he didn’t shoot his deer this year that it was all right because he saw roosting turkeys take flight,” Edwards wrote. “Looking forward to ice fishing season!”

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.