WEST PARIS —  While deer hunting early Saturday morning in the West Paris woods, Mitchell Mason told his older brother that he’d get his first deer later that day.

Come 4 p.m., the 13-year-old West Paris native kept his word. He shot a 110-pound doe a mile or so behind Kevin Billings’ J&K Sporting Goods store on Route 26 in West Paris where Mason registered the deer.

After getting the deer, Mason called his older brother and sent him a cellphone photo of himself posing with the deer.

“The first time I spotted it was when it was running at me,” Mason said.

He was walking through the woods at the time.

“And then it turned and sprinted away from me,” he said. “Then it actually stopped and looked at me.”

Mason didn’t waste the opportunity. He fired his 20-gauge shotgun from 40 feet away. The first shot missed, but the second felled the deer and he killed it with a third shot, he said.

Saturday was Maine’s firearm Youth Deer Hunting Day for children ages 10 to 15. The youngsters must be accompanied by an unarmed parent or guardian.

Mason hunted in the morning with his father, Christopher Mason of West Paris, then hunted in the afternoon with his stepfather, Adam Silver of West Paris. His mother, Gail Silver, drove the pair and her son’s deer to Billings’ store, where it was weighed and tagged.

Mason said he’s been hunting since he was 10 years old. He was one of four boys and a girl who registered their deer at the West Paris tagging station Saturday. The largest deer tagged was a 140-pound spike-horn buck taken by a 15-year-old boy.

Billings said a 15-year-old boy also shot a small buck while bow hunting during archery season on Friday afternoon and tagged it there Saturday morning.

“We did tag an antlered doe,” Billings said. “That’s kind of unique.”

He said it weighed 110 pounds and was taken in Woodstock by Calvin Glover of Andover.

“He was hunting with his friend, Hunter Williamson of Woodstock, who shot the 140-pound spike-horn,” Billings said. Both boys were hunting with Williamson’s father.

Billings said Youth Deer Hunting Day was rather quiet compared to other years, but he didn’t know whether the cold, overcast day figured into it. Temperatures were in the high 20s that morning and rose into the mid 40s before falling back when a wind-driven rain picked up in the afternoon.

“We’ve had better days, but we’ve actually had worse days,” he said. “Five, six or seven years ago we had two years in a row. One year was hurricane-force winds. That was terrible. This is bad enough.”

Maine’s regular firearms deer hunting season starts Saturday, Nov. 2, for residents only. The month-long season for resident and nonresident adults and youths opens Monday, Nov. 4, and ends Nov. 30. That will be followed from early to mid December by muzzle-loader season for deer.

Billings said he believed it will be a good season if the weather doesn’t turn bad, especially following two good winters and heavy coyote trapping and hunting in the area.

“This summer I saw a lot of deer and deer signs,” he said.

He took his 6-year-old daughter, Sophie Billings, out to look for deer in Western Maine. Already acclimated to the woods and tracking deer and wildlife, Sophie has walked fairly close to deer that don’t seem to mind the youngster as they fed in meadows.

Billings, who raises elk at his farm, calls Sophie his “deer whisperer.”

“There was two deer — an adult doe and a 5-pointer — that she could walk up to within 50, 60 feet of them,” he said, emphasizing it to the Mason family by showing them the video he shot of it.

“That was my summer entertainment, just watching her,” Billings said. “We saw more deer this year than I have in probably a couple decades, but we were looking for them. Hopefully, there will be a good deer kill this year if the weather stays good.”

Billings said there’s plenty of natural food in the woods this year.

“Beechnuts, there’s a lot of beechnuts and acorns, though in some places they’re spotty. But there’s a lot of beechnuts and that’s one of their favorite foods,” he said.

Hunting business has already picked up.

“The rush is on,” Billings said. “But the rush will really be on Friday afternoon. Everyone will want a new gun with a scope installed and sighted in.”

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