|Maine’s expanded archery deer season is set to open in a few days (Sept. 8), one of the earliest deer-hunting seasons in the East. During the expanded archery season, hunters who have a valid archery license will be able to purchase multiple expanded archery antlerless permits for $12 each, and one expanded archery buck permit for $32. (Junior hunters 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt during this season with their junior hunting license, but must purchase the expanded archery permits.)
In our area parts of the towns of Bangor, Brewer, Hampden, Hermon, Old Town, Orono and Veazie are open to hunting under the expanded archery season regulations. Portions of Augusta and Waterville are also included, but hunters are urged to contact the respective city police departments for regulations updates and other details.
A person who applies for an archery hunting license must show proof of having successfully completed an archery hunter education course or of having held an adult archery license in any year after 1979.
Junior hunters (10 years of age and under 16) who hold a valid junior hunting license are allowed to hunt with bow and arrow when accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older.
Hunter orange clothing is not required when hunting with bow and arrow, although anyone who hunts with a firearm must wear hunter orange.
Where firearms discharge rules are not in force, a handgun may be carried by licensed (license to hunt with firearms) hunters while bowhunting, but the handgun may not be used to dispatch deer. Most hunters carry a sidearm in case they see a coyote or other legal game that is out of archery range. The need for carrying a sidearm while bowhunting is more perceived than practical, but it is legal to do so.
Deer may be taken under the archery provisions only by means of a hand-held bow with a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds and broad-head arrows. Arrowheads must be at least 7/8 inch in width.
It is unlawful to use a crossbow during the archery seasons on deer, except that certain disabled persons who have a special permit issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner may use a crossbow during the archery seasons on deer.
All deer killed by bow and arrow during the archery seasons must be inspected and registered at the nearest open deer registration station.
It is legal to hunt until 1/2 hour after sunset during both archery seasons on deer and during the fall turkey-hunting season.
Deer of either sex may be taken during the special archery season. The bag limit is one buck and-or multiple antlerless deer (with appropriate expanded archery season permits). All other laws pertaining to deer hunting shall apply to bowhunting.
The expanded archery areas were established to provide deer-hunting opportunities in locations in where deer populations can withstand additional hunting pressure without negatively impacting other existing deer-hunting opportunities or human safety. A number of areas in central and southern Maine meet these criteria. They include Wildlife Management District 29, a portion of WMD 24, and nine smaller areas. Most are characterized by intensive residential development interspersed with small woodlots. Much of this area cannot be hunted with firearms due to municipal ordinances banning the discharge of firearms.
The intent of the expanded archery area is to allow hunting in areas that are not open to firearms hunting due to municipal firearms discharge ordinances. Areas open for the expanded archery season are characterized by intensive residential development interspersed with small woodlots.
Nearly all land in the expanded archery hunting area is privately owned. Some of it is not deer habitat. Parts of it remain unhuntable due to sanctuaries, municipal ordinances against archery discharge, or simply because individual landowners do not support hunting and-or trespass on their land. All hunters are urged to obtain landowner permission during the expanded archery season.
The regular Maine archery deer season runs from Sept. 27 through Oct. 26, 2007, and many of the same rules apply, although during the regular archery deer season hunters may access any land statewide that is open to hunting.
One advantage of the expanded archery season is the chance for bowhunters to test their scouting and shooting skills before the regular season opens. In early September, deer are often less alert and skittish than they will be by November, and while bowhunting is never easy (success rates are generally around 7 percent), a patient hunter can expect some great opportunities if his timing (and the wind) are right.
Many hunters will save their buck tags throughout the season, taking only does via special permits while they wait for a trophy-class deer to appear in range. In fact, shooting does in the expanded archery areas is in keeping with the goals of the special hunt: to decrease the deer population in areas where firearms hunting is restricted or heavy posting of the land limits access.
Early or late, successful bowhunting is ultimately dependent upon two things: putting your time in and good shooting skills. Most bowhunters have been practicing diligently since spring, picking up the pace during the summer and, by August, spending part of every day in front of a hay bale or deer target. Archery is one sport where practice makes perfect, and all it takes is 20 minutes per day of careful shooting to get to that “perfect” point. Clean, open shots are far and few between, and the most practiced archer is the one who’s going to bring home the venison when an opportunity finally comes.
Hunt early, hunt late, hunt more often. Two months may seem like a long time, but if you’re the least bit responsible about your work and domestic life, you’ll suddenly see how fast time (and opportunities) can fly! Get out there as often as you can and make the most of every available moment.
For more information about Maine’s archery deer, turkey and bear seasons, contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/archery.htm.