Don Decker goes deer hunting every year, and he isn’t picky about what he shoots at. This year, Decker, 73, of Canaan, was out hunting just 15 minutes before he shot and killed a 130 pound buck — the second deer he saw in that time.

“It went quite well for a change,” Decker said.

Decker, like many local hunters Saturday, brought his deer to the Canaan Superette at 187 Main St. to have the tag recorded. He may have had one of the fastest hunting seasons, but he wasn’t the first hunter to stop by Saturday, as many took advantage of Maine resident-only hunting day, just ahead of the general firearm hunting season for deer, which officially begins Monday.

Lauri Quimby, who works at the Canaan Superette, said the store has been busy all morning as local hunters stop to register their harvest. The store had about 25 people before 1 p.m. Saturday, Quimby said, and at one point there was a line of 20 people across the store waiting to register their catch.

A deer in the bed of a truck outside Canaan Superette, a deer tagging station. Don Decker of Canaan said he shot the deer Saturday, just 15 minutes after he started hunting.

Things were going smoothly so far, Quimby said, and unlike Decker, most hunters so far had bagged does.

Mariah Collins at the Moose Lake Market, another tagging station at 67 Main St. in Hartland, said the hunters who had come in so far were also mostly bringing does. The market had only seen about 10 hunters by 12:30 p.m. Saturday, but it had been a steady stream all morning, Collins said.


With so many different types of tags available for hunters in recent years, Collins said there has been some difficulty with computer issues, and making sure to get everyone’s tags recorded correctly. But other than calling the game wardens a few times with questions, things had been going smoothly.

In nearby Palmyra, the tagging station at Moosehead Trail Trading Post, 428 Oxbow Road, had a steady flow of visitors Saturday. Some hunters were getting supplies before starting their hunt while others were wrapping up their hunting season on day one.

Jim Spraggins said he had seen probably 15 hunters come in with deer before noon, and the station usually sees between 25 and 30 on Maine resident day. The biggest one he’d had so far was a 199 pound buck — just shy of the 200 pound mark needed to qualify for the Biggest Bucks in Maine Club, which is sponsored by The Maine Sportsman magazine.

The trading post has its own biggest buck competition, where hunters can pay $5 to enter, and the winner gets all the proceeds at the end of the hunting season. And though the 199 pound deer seemed impressive on Saturday, it may not hold the top spot for long.

“Everything’s been good so far, we haven’t had any issues tagging or anything,” Spraggins said.

Richard Bellows, 52, of Pittsfield, was one of the happy hunters to stop by the trading post Saturday to get his tag and weigh his deer — a 10-point buck that came in at 176 pounds. He made it to his tree stand in Pittsfield around 6:30 a.m., just a few minutes before legal hunting time.

And he didn’t have to wait long at all, as the buck wandered by at 9 a.m. Bellows said he heard more shooting in the area this morning than in past opening mornings, noting hopefully others will be as lucky as he was.

“Now when it’s cold I can stay in bed. That’s the best part,” Bellows said.

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