For sportsmen who like to do it all, October can be the busiest month of the year. Whether your October plans include fishing, hunting or both, there is a lot happening.

On a warm October afternoon, trout pond action can be something to behold. No pesky insects. Cooling surface waters keep the trout cooperative and frisky. The bonus is the colorful, changing landscape as a backdrop. Regulations-wise, Maine’s fall fishing options are getting better and better. If you don’t mind catch-and-release, October trout angling with artificials can be some of the best, as brookies conduct their spawning rituals and gorge themselves on grasshoppers and other terrestrials. Consult your fishing lawbook for still-open waters in your neck of the woods.

Then, there is hunting. The options are numerous.

Bow hunters in Maine have the best of both worlds. Deer hunting is the main attraction. The regular archery season statewide runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27. The added attraction is the expanded archery-season option that runs all fall and doesn’t end until Dec. 9. A bow hunter who bags a deer during the regular October bow season, may take an additional deer under the expanded season option. The catch is that these bonus deer must be taken in specified zones, most of which are in urban areas and coastal islands. Again, check your lawbook.

Bow hunters may also hunt fall turkeys in most wildlife management districts until Oct. 21 or 27.

Those of us lucky enough to draw a moose permit will be moose hunting from Oct. 9- Oct. 14. Remember, only one moose to a customer.

Then there is the upland bird hunt. The open season on grouse begins Oct. 2, not Oct. 1 as the lawbook states. While partridge (grouse) appear to be scarce in some areas of the state due to our cold, rainy spring, birds and broods were being spotted in some areas of the North Woods in pretty good numbers. If you are bird hunting in moose country during the week of the moose hunt, the laws require that you wear hunter orange. The daily bag limit on grouse is four. Possession limit is eight.

A number of Maine guides say that they expect woodcock may be in better supply than grouse. The season on these timberdoodles is Oct. 2 to Nov. 1. The daily bag limit on woodcock is three. Possession limit is six. Although woodcock are a migratory bird, you are not required to have a federal migratory stamp.

Duck hunters love October. There is something special about sunrise on the marsh, the smell of a wet dog, a thermos of hot coffee and the whispered words “incoming.” The north zone duck hunt runs from Oct. 2-Dec. 9. The south zone has a split season: Oct. 2-28 and Nov. 13-Dec. 23. Possession limits are complicated. Get yourself a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Schedule at your post office or town office. Maine’s regular season on Canada geese runs Oct. 2-Dec. 9 in the north zone, and as with ducks, there is a split season in south: Oct. 2-28 and Nov. 13-Dec. 23. Daily limit on honkers is two; possession limit four.

Then there is the main attraction: the November deer hunt with firearms. For die-hard whitetail hunters, October is most appreciated for two reasons. First, it gets the leaves off the trees and, second, it is the month that brings on November. Maine had an almost bizarre open winter with mild temperatures and very little snow cover. This kept deer survival rates high and deer reproduction was reportedly excellent. So, with the exception of Maine’s troubled deer areas in eastern Washington County and northern Aroostook County, the November deer season may well turn out to be one of the best in years, weather permitting. The firearms season on deer begins Oct. 28 for Maine residents and Oct. 30 for all hunters. The curtain falls on the deer hunt Nov. 25.

The rush of autumn winds up with a black-powder or muzzleloaders season on deer Nov. 27-Dec. 2 in all WMDs, and Dec. 4-Dec. 9 in a limited number of WMDs. (Check your lawbook). By the way, for the first time, crossbows are legal hunting devices during the general firearms season for deer. You must have taken a crossbow safety course to be legal, however.

All in all, a smorgasbord of fall options is available to the folks who hunt and fish our wonderful state. Get out there, take advantage, and always think safety.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal.He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WCME-FM 96.7) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]


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