Deer Hunters Dream: Expanded Archery In Maine
©2013 Brent N. Reece
In Maine we not only have a bow season and a gun season. We have an expanded archery season that addresses certain population control concerns in the more urban areas of the state. Areas where traditional hunting has been banned do to human habitation and increased population. These areas are unsuitable for any use of firearms do to the built up nature of them. So the bow has come forward to assist with deer management inside the compact zones of these towns.
One added aspect to this expanded zone hunting that makes it attractive for me and my venison loving compatriots is there are no limits on how many does you can take. There is a two-buck limit, in that you can legally tag one buck by any method in Maine, and you can buy one tag in expanded to shoot a 2nd. The buck tag is $32.00 and your doe tags are $12.00 each. This is not about trophy hunting so much as it is a great way to put meat in the freezer. Now some really good deer get whacked early and we get the first chance at the resident deer in these areas.
Over the last few years our struggling deer herd has rebounded due mostly to a few mild winters. In 2012 the deer kill was up 13% over 2011 in all seasons combined, at 21,365 deer, over the previous years 18,839. The buck kill was up 2,473 at 15,271 from 2011 total. Expanded zones were up, but no numbers could be found prior to publishing this to show you. Youth day was up 5% over 2011. The 2012 Doe harvest was up by 6% and the fawn kill was down by 8%!
The core of this increased opportunity for Maine bow hunters are the areas that open to Expanded Archery. Here is a list of these zones:
- Portion of WMD #24
- WMD #29
For more information and specifics please use this link to read it for yourself.
The key to hunting this expanded opportunity is research and advanced scouting. Keeping in mind that all of the areas are held as “Private Property”. Public lands in these areas are non-existent. In fact a lot of it is posted and a lot of the folks in this area are not likely going to look favorably upon you for hunting near their homes. There are areas within each zone that can be accessed if approached with respect and caution. Be aware that some zones require you to check with town Police authorities and get a permit to even have your bow in their towns, as Waterville does. Bucksport advocates you pick up their HUNT MAP to stay in the right areas. Do your homework!!
I look to hunt areas of conflict between landowners and deer. Like small farm plots and greenhouse operations, apple orchards and berry producers are good too. I have even gained access to the outskirts of airports and golf courses. Who have their own priorities as far as deer “co-habitation”. Contact the local Warden and see if they are getting nuisance deer reports. Check with local Pd about areas of higher than normal deer collisions. All of this points you to places looking for help.
Maine also has a program called BLIP, an acronym for Bowhunters/Landowners Information Program. Administered by the Maine Bowhunter’s Association that has created an ELITE group of proven bowhunters. These select hunters are sent into trouble spots and “Selective Harvest” deer in areas usually closed to hunting. Hunters in this group are the best in the state and earn their patches. There are less than a hundred Blip hunters in the state.
I have yet to attempt this in my hunting career but it is a great way to get even more access to grounds unavailable to most hunters. The Blip program will take your hunting hobby into the realm of CAREER in very short order. Only the best of the best are in this group.
An example of these “Selective Harvest” Blip events is Marsh Island in ORONO. Here’s what the state site had to say about the hunt in 2011:
MDIFW Opens Marsh Island Area To Expanded Archery
August 30, 2011
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF INLAND FISHERIES & WILDLIFE
284 State St., SHS 41, Augusta, ME 04333
AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is opening the Marsh Island area in Old Town and Orono to archery hunting for whitetail deer, beginning with the upcoming season, following an approval from the MDIFW Advisory Council.
Marsh Island will now be open to deer hunting during any hunting season that allows the use of a bow and arrow, including the expanded archery season. University of Maine lands, however, will remain closed to any hunting.
The expanded archery season begins Sept. 10, 2011 and runs through December 10, 2011.
“We are extremely appreciative of the cooperation from the University of Maine, the Town of Orono, the City of Old Town and the Maine Bowhunters Association,” said Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “Without their tireless efforts, this would certainly not be possible.”
A controlled archery hunt first took place on Marsh Island in 2008 as a way to assist Orono and Old Town with long-standing nuisance deer and public safety concerns. The effort continued in 2009 and 2010, with the Maine Bowhunters Association taking the lead through their Bowhunters Landowners Information Program (BLIP).
More than 40 deer were harvested safely and effectively in both the 2009 and 2010 controlled hunts.
“I strongly feel that the MBA and the BLIP archers clearly demonstrated that bow hunting can be a safe and effective management tool to address this type of challenging problem, especially for municipalities with firearm discharge ordinances in place,” said MDIFW Regional Wildlife Biologist Mark Caron. “It took all of us six years to get to this point, but we all hung in there, worked together, and finally were able to make this happen.”
Expanded archery in urban and suburban areas where firearms are restricted is a critical tool to keep deer numbers in check and reduce negative impacts from high deer densities. Road collisions, deer browsing in gardens and on ornamental plants and brush, and the risk of Lyme disease are all increased when deer population densities grow too steep.
“The Maine Bowhunters Association takes great pride in the team effort conducted with the State and the municipalities to educate and demonstrate the value of bowhunting,” said Daniel Long, MBA President. “Our goal is to continue to work to improve landowner relations and ensure a high public regard for bowhunting throughout the State of Maine.”
An important part of this Expanded Archery season is an opportunity to change people’s perceptions on what hunting is all about. You will either open doors or you will close doors. You have to be an ambassador of hunting to those who are afraid of it, never have done it, or are adamantly opposed to it. You are now moving into the urban zones and a lot of these “city folk” have a very limited knowledge base about hunting. They are more gentile than your rural human. They buy their food already dead and cut up for them. Most of these consumers have no clue where meat comes from! The stark reality that meat does come from dead animals can at times be unbelievable to some of them. So be careful and be compassionate towards their naivety
Lastly I think it only fair to advise you to spend as much time shooting your bow as you possibly can. Your proficiency is critical to your role as an ambassador, as is your positive mental attitude and sense of humor. You need to be absolutely confident in your skills to hit the target and kill cleanly. The last thing you want to do is wound a deer and have run you into a bad situation. Imagine you’re a kid on a bus, you see a deer running across the road with an arrow sticking out of it, and it drops in your neighbors yard! Someone has just killed Bambi’s DAD and it died right in front of you and the other 12 kids on the bus! Or you arrow a deer too far back and it runs off the property you can hunt on…to a piece owned by a PETA rep who is home sipping green tea and reading HSUS newsletters. The freaking deer crashes through her hedge and drops in her dahlias! You appear to see her giving it mouth to mouth and dialing her lawyer, the PETA Board Of Directors and channel 7 news!!
Please be diligent and use caution in all hunting situations. But especially be at your best during the early seasons like expanded archery. The kids are outside playing and the dogs are running loose in the yards. Put as much distance between you and STUPID, as you can. Exercise absolute target identification!! That coyote might just be somebody’s mongrel pet dog. Let it pass and stay focused on taking mature does and good shooter bucks. Do your coyote hunting another day in another more rural area.
You never know when that Grammy from three houses up will show up under your treestand with milk and fresh oatmeal cookies, because you killed that rascically deer that ate her prized petunias!
– Brent Reece
High Country Maxforce #70/29” @315fps (My bow)