Hunting Maine whitetail is different than hunting deer in other states. Whereas deer hunting in some states is on leased land with deer feeders and food plots, in Maine you pretty much just walk into the woods and start hunting, private land or public (unless it’s posted). From my biased perspective, this is more like “true” hunting. Watching some of these ESPN hunting shows I see people sitting behind a blind and then some monster buck strolls by and the hunters whisper things like “this is the 3rd buck we’ve seen this morning, this looks like a good one.”
That just doesn’t happen in Maine. You’re lucky to just SEE a deer – any deer, let alone getting a shot opportunity. Unless you’re going on a private land, guided hunt, Maine deer don’t march their way to food plots. If you want to hunt a “food plot”, you find a big oak tree dropping acorns, beech trees, a patch of clover in the woods, etc. Other styles of hunting might work for some people, but if I’m going to hunt deer, I want to hunt deer, not sit in a comfy stand sipping coffee and waiting for 8:37 am when bucks are scheduled to walk by.
This “just walk in the woods” type of hunting can be more frustrating to the beginning hunter. I suspect the new hunter dropout rate is high. You can go years without getting a deer. I did. Success may require a healthy dose of luck, but the more you practice hunting skills, the luckier you tend to get.
Because this style of hunting can be a challenge, you gain certain …. bragging rights when you get what qualifies as a “Big Buck.” It’s a buck that weighs 200+ pounds (dressed). I’ve done it once.
It weighed in at 210.5 pounds. North Woods tagging station dude certified the weight on a “Big Buck Club” form. I sent it in with 5 bucks. That gave me official bragging rights (not that I would ever do such a thing) and this sexy patch.
I’d like to tell you some grandiose story about how I tracked this buck up and over a mountain for miles on end, but I don’t think you’d buy it, and it wouldn’t be true.
It was the first morning of Deer Camp. I wasn’t hunting that specific buck, but I knew it was around (long story). The area was good, I’d taken a buck there before. My morning plan was to scour the woods for a decent location to set up for the rest of the week. I moved fast, didn’t worry much about noise, and had pretty much written the morning off as a quick, fast scouting mission. I didn’t carry much with me, my rifle with only 4 rounds.
By late morning I was near the end of the area I wanted to scout. I was standing on an old logging road with brush chest high, getting ready to head back to the truck to meet my hunting homie for lunch – then – I heard something to my right and from out of nowhere this beast of a deer was moving through trees, about to cross the old logging road I was standing on. Caught off guard, and too quick for accelerated heart beat to set in, I shouldered my rifle and fired a shot at its front quarter. The deer bolted deep into the woods. I gave it time to bed down.
I didn’t give it long enough (25 minutes) and when I pursued it the deer jumped up and bolted again. The process repeated itself a few times, and each time I fired another shot. By this time my SHTF hunting homie (Hokie Magnum) had arrived, and (he never lets me live this down) I had to borrow a 5th .308 round from him.
Eventually this buck made its way back into the old logging road and was standing ass end to me. Conveniently, there was a chest high tree stump next to me. I rested the rifle on the stump and .… that was it.
Hokie Magnum might tell the story a little differently, but that’s how hunting stories go. (Don’t believe anything he says.)
My three to four SHTF vegan fans might send me hate mail for this post, and they’ll criticize me as being a hypocrite for what I’m about to say, but …. whenever I drop a deer and walk up on it, its eyes still open, taking its last breath ….
Yes, there is the inevitable excitement that comes over any hunter when you finally get a deer, especially if it’s a big one, but …. let’s just say I respect the animal. I respect all animals. Not enough to go vegan, but enough to value hunting more than grocery store meat shopping.
I’m not a religious man, but I’m spiritual. To that end, I say an apology to the dying animal and a silent prayer of thanks. I should probably do the same thing every time I eat a restaurant hamburger or a can of chicken soup, but …. I don’t, so …. pass the bacon, please.
– Ranger Man