While Maine may have a fairly low number of whitetail deer compared to other states like those in the Midwest, the seemingly never-ending forests give big bucks plenty of places to hide and grow to trophy sizes. This post will share tips and tricks to help you harvest a mature buck in Maine.
Whitetails and the State of Maine
The state of Maine has an estimated whitetail herd population that number of around 300,000. Compared to other states like Wisconsin, which leads all states in the number of record whitetails booked and sports a population estimated at 1.5 million, you might be inclined to think that Maine doesn’t have the best whitetail hunting opportunities, but this is not the case.
Maine may have a smaller whitetail population than the agricultural breadbasket states. Still, the state of Maine is predominantly composed of forests, and the sheer number of forests allows deer to have countless safe havens to call home and hide from hunters.
The number of hunters actively pursuing whitetails in Maine is also lower than in the Midwest, with an average of 200,000 licenses issued yearly. The amount of deer harvested yearly is far less.
The deer population numbers in Maine took a pretty bad hit in the late 2000’s, but not to worry, as the numbers have been a slow and steady climb since that time, and the combination of mild winters and good mast crop growth from farmers has seen it continuing to improve.
The lower population of deer and hunters combined with the densely forested environment has given birth to a pretty good number of trophy bucks, and the number of bucks weighing in at 200 pounds might surprise you.
Where to Hunt in Maine
The best place to hunt in Maine is the northern counties, these counties provide the best chances at harvesting a trophy whitetail.
The counties of Hancock, Aroostook, Piscataquis, Waldo, Washington, and Penobscot all have a reputation for harboring giant bucks.
Maine is fairly unique compared to other states in that it has a unique tradition of open access to land, which leads to easy access for hunters, and accessing good private land has become increasingly difficult for hunters in other states.
Even with this open-access policy, you will still need to knock on someone’s door or make a phone call. It would still be a good idea to check in with the landowners from time to time, and in doing so, you might even get some golden nuggets of information on hunting spots, big buck sightings, and deer movement.
Know the Seasons and Regulations
The archery season in Maine runs from October 1st to the 28th with extended archery seasons running from September 10th to December 10th in designated areas.
Gun hunting runs from October 31st to November 26th, the Muzzleloader season from November 28th to December 3rd, and from December 5th to the 10th in designated areas only.
The Stand is King
Tree stands are nothing new to hunters and are used predominantly everywhere. Still, in places like the Midwest and the south, ground blind hunting has become increasingly popular as an option to harvest trophy bucks.
In Maine, the treestand is still your best bet, and due to the state being blanketed in forests, there aren’t any issues with finding a suitable tree to hang a stand within range of trails or food sources.
Due to the topography in many parts of the state, the wind can tend to swirl and become unpredictable, and getting high off of the ground in a tree stand can help mitigate the issue of your scent swirling through your hunting area by getting it up and above the noses of the deer.
Study Your Hunting Area
Studying aerial photos of the areas you intend to hunt can be key to finding the best locations to hang a stand, and it will give you a great idea of where a trophy buck might be bedding and feeding, along with likely travel corridors.
Studying your hunting area via a birds-eye view has never been easier with modern technology, and you might be surprised to see that you might be able to spot deer trails using something as simple as google maps.
Having a solid understanding of the area will help you in several ways, and is not studying topographic maps and satellite images are not something that a serious hunter should skip.
Plan you Moves
Many hunters fail at correctly approaching their stands when hunting during the morning or afternoon.
How you approach your stand depends on a few factors, but the wind is the most important factor to consider. The wind might make a particular tree stand inaccessible on a given day, and while you can choose to ignore the wind, doing so risks spooking all the deer in the area.
Be sure when you are walking to or from your stand, that you do so in a direction where the wind is blowing away from crucial areas like bedding areas or food sources. How you enter the woods to sit might also need to be adjusted based on the time of day.
Avoid Tree Stand Burn Out
Hunting from the same stand too often will be detrimental to your trophy buck harvesting cause.
This is known as “burning out a stand” and happens when you hunt a tree stand several times a week. You can try as hard as you want to keep the evidence of your presence as low as possible, but deer have mind-boggling senses and will know if a human is repeatedly intruding into their backyard.
As hunters, we pattern deer, their behavior, and their daily movements as best we can, and if you constantly hunt from the same tree stand, the deer will be able to pattern you, and they will avoid the areas around your stand until they feel you are no longer visiting it regularly.
Put Your Time In
Hunting trophy whitetails is a serious challenge and takes due diligence and time no matter the location, but this is more so the case when hunting in the state of Maine.
It will take patience to harvest a trophy in the state due to the lower numbers and the vastness of the forests, but you know what they say, the harder you work for something, the sweeter the success is.
There’s a lot of nothing in Maine, particularly the northern half of the state, and if you are unfamiliar with the area that you will be hunting, you should have a game plan for safety reasons.
You could easily get lost on the many winding logging roads that appear as if they lead to nowhere, and before you leave to hunt, you should let someone know the exact areas you intend to hunt and when you are expected to be back.
Letting a family member or friend know where you will be is not only a good idea in the event you get lost but also if you were to injure yourself by twisting an ankle or having a mishap with your tree stand.
You should also have a minimal amount of survival gear with you, such as a first aid kit, thermal blanket, lighter, and other items that can help in the event that you get lost or injured.
In the modern age with smartphones and google maps, getting lost is less of an issue and something that we don’t worry about as much as we used to. Still, phone batteries have a tendency to run out, and they always seem to do so at the worst possible time, and this is why you shouldn’t rely solely on technology because it is prone to failure, and back up plans and gear is necessary.
More to Offer
Maine has more to offer than whitetails and is one of the best destinations in the United States to harvest a big moose.
Along with moose, black bear hunting can be very good do to the sheer amount of forested land that the bears have to roam around in.
Due to being a far northern state, the ruffed grouse hunting is some of the best in the country and is right up there with other legendary grouse hunting states like those of the Great Lakes Region.
If you are moving to the state of Maine and want to know your options when it comes to whitetails, or if you are thinking of traveling to hunt in the state, be sure to do your research and due diligence on the regulations and on how to hunt in the state.