WEST PARIS — After four straight days of rain, Kevin Billings figured deer would be on the move Saturday and provide plenty of opportunity for youngsters on Youth Deer Hunting Day.
Billings, who owns J&K Sporting Goods on Route 26 in West Paris, believed he’d have a busy day tagging an anticipated 11 to 14 deer. But temperatures quickly scooted up to 65 degrees, so he only tagged two does during the morning and nothing else by 4:30 p.m.
“With this warm weather, the deer aren’t going to move much,” Billings said. “It’s been relatively quiet today. I’m real surprised, because people are seeing deer out there. I talked to guys today who took their kids out hunting and they said they saw deer.”
He said a 13-year-old boy from Hebron and an 11-year-old boy from the Harrison area each bagged a deer.
As of 6 p.m., no deer were brought into tagging stations in Rumford, Phillips or Carrabassett Valley. But Greg Provost, who owns Sabattus Deer Processing in Sabattus, had tagged seven deer and more successful hunters were en route.
“It’s been busy,” Provost said. “There’s been a pile of deer here. I usually get 10 to 15 on Youth Day, so we’ll probably make it again.”
A clerk at Bethel Bait Tackle & More said she’d only tagged one spike horn deer weighing 128 pounds at 8 a.m. for Nathan White of Rumford, and a 110-pound doe at 9 a.m. for a youth from Raymond, N.H. Each used a .270-caliber gun.
Ellis’ Variety in Dixfield tagged three deer and the Weld General Store in Weld had tagged one by 5:40 p.m. A clerk at Pine’s Market in Eustis said they’d tagged one also by late afternoon. It was an 8-point, 159-pounder taken by 14-year-old Katherine Norwood of Vermont.
Two young girls were hoping to get their deer Saturday in the River Valley area.
Thirteen-year-old Victoria Averill of Dixfield was excited on Friday. She was hoping to bag a buck to complement the doe she got last year with a doe permit when she was 12. It was her first deer.
She hunts with her father, Tom Averill of Mexico. He trained her to hunt and put her through Maine’s Hunter Safety Course when she was 10 years old.
Victoria said she stalk-hunts deer with a single-shot .410-caliber shotgun.
“I like (deer hunting), because I get to go outside and walk through the woods and it’s challenging,” she said.
She dropped her doe with two shots.
“She was happy,” said Jason Hyde, her stepfather.
It was the third deer Victoria Averill said she saw last year. The other two ran away before she could get off a shot.
And because she got her deer last year and her father and grandfather didn’t, she said she’d teased her grandfather this year.
“I told my grandfather I’m going to give him a ‘Deer Hunting for Dummies’ book, so he was saying he’d better get his deer this year or he’d be in trouble,” Victoria Averill said, laughing.
“Her grandfather hasn’t gotten a deer for many years, so she teases him a lot,” Hyde said.
Fourteen-year-old Morgan Theriault of Waterville was going hunting Saturday with her grandfather, Roland Patneaude of Roxbury. He’s taken her hunting on Youth Day each year since she was 10.
“It’s nice to see a lot of the youth going out on Youth Day,” Patneaude said.
She enjoys hunting with her youth model .308-caliber, single-shot gun that he bought her in Mexico one year after taking her target practicing with a .22-caliber rifle. He said he was also sighting in his .308-caliber that day.
“I showed her what to do and that little .22 made a little pop and she looked up (bewildered) and asked if it fired, because the noise wasn’t as loud as mine,” Patneaude said. “So she wanted to try mine and I told her to be careful because it has a kick and she tried it and did all right.”
Neither Hyde nor Patneaude had called by 7:30 p.m. to say whether the girls got their deer.