It’s almost time for regular firearm season for deer! Many of our staff are avid outdoor enthusiasts and hunters. They have some advice for those heading afield this fall.

1. Find deer travel routes. Find a barrier (streams are easiest to spot on a map, but rock walls and fences also work), walk along it until you spot some deer sign. Setting up in that area is an option, the deer will be so focused on crossing the barrier, they won’t be thinking about you. Another option is following the tracks to their food source or bedding area, another perfect place to set up.

– Dave Chabot, Landowner Relations Corporal

2. You might be sitting for a while, be comfortable. Bring a portable seat pad. Stick it in your backpack. Small, comfortable, and quiet, use it to sit anywhere and you’ll stay comfortable and warmer.

-Nicholas Bragg, Licensing and Registration Division

3. Scout more than you hunt. It is best to have your scouting done and hunting spots figured out before you start actively hunting the area. That means tree stands/blinds set and ready to go before the season starts. More importantly, that means no stomping around the woods during open season. Develop a single path that you take in and out of the woods every single time. This will reduce scent and noise during your travel to and from the stand. If you scout during open season, you risk educating the deer of your presence, and potentially interfering with other hunters in the process.

-Connor White, Wildlife Biologist

4.  Have a game plan. If you are deep in the woods, have a game plan of how you will get the deer out. Always have what you need to field dress a deer in your bag, and be sure you understand how to properly do so. If you have never had the opportunity to field dress a deer ask a fellow hunter or find a good video online. Being confident in field dressing a deer before you harvest one will make the process a lot less intimidating.

-Kate Donovan, Game Keeper, Maine Wildlife Park

5. Treat your harvested game like it’s a $30 porterhouse. Don’t think of your deer as a “trophy,” think of it as food – treat it like you would a $30 dollar porterhouse and the quality of your venison will greatly improve.

-Robert Cordes, Wildlife Special Projects Coordinator

6. Think outside the box. Not sure where to hunt? Accessing private land and asking landowner permission can feel intimidating. Some state parks and land trusts allow hunting. MDIFW’s Wildlife Management Areas offer hundreds of acres of excellent hunting opportunity. Wherever you decide to go, make sure you can hunt your target species there and check the property lines.

-Katie Yates, R3 Coordinator

7. Bring snacks! It can’t be emphasized enough. You might be out there a while, bring high-protein snacks to keep you going.

-Emilie Cram, Game Keeper, Maine Wildlife Park

8. Gear is everything! Spend the extra on a good set of thermals to wear hunting, the fastest way to ruin your hunt is to get cold. I always keep some hot hands or body warmers for just in case, if you get a cold rain this extra heat can help you out.

-Heather Rodrigue, Secretary Associate, Division of Engineering

9. You can’t completely fool a deer’s very powerful nose, but you may limit exposure to particularly strong smells to limit the likelihood that you will be detected. Keep hunting clothing clean and limit exposure to pungent scents such as cooking smells and gasoline. It may help to let clothing hang outdoors and to store clothing in bins with natural vegetation, such as cedar or spruce boughs, prior to the season.

-Nathan Bieber, Deer Biologist

10. Be aware of your surroundings and understand you’re sharing the woods with hikers, dog walkers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Be safe, courteous, and responsible while out this season.

-Lauren McPherson, Wildlife Promotional Coordinator

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