Opening day for hunting in Maine survives onset of rains

Mechanic Falls’ Jeff Sturtevant weighs a deer for a customer at his store, Sturdy Hardware, in Sabattus on Saturday, the first day of hunting season for the Mainers using guns. At 2 p.m., Sturtevant weighed around 40 deer, one of which was over 190 pounds. Anna Gouvéia photo

SABATTUS – The first day of the 2021 deer hunting season may have been hampered by the weather, but not all hunters let it rain on their parade.

The hunting day started early Saturday, half an hour before sunrise. At Sabattus Deer Processing, bagged deer, although few in number, nevertheless entered regularly, pulled from trucks and trunks and weighed. The operation has been a popular location for hunters during its 22 years of operation, operating only during the season – about two months in total – seven days a week.

Employees had a pool – $ 10 per employee – to see if they would break 100 or not. They numbered 79 deer at the end of the day.

Participation, perhaps because of the rain, was not planned.

“It’s like tribal knowledge; connecting people to their roots, ”said Cody Provost, who has worked in the family business for 12 years. “COVID kind of forced people to develop these skills, so (we) thought there would be more people today,”

Climate plays a big role in hunting, as bad weather discourages both predator and prey from meeting in the woods.

“Two years ago, when we had snow after Thanksgiving, it was perfect. Hunting in the snow is a real plus because it makes the ground softer for walking, you make less noise and you can get close to the deer, ”said Provost.

Most processing centers such as Sabattus do not remove organs or stopper meat, but instead focus on removing antlers and skin and preparing the catch for carving, often turning into steaks, stews, burgers and sausages. Doe steaks are preferred over buck because they are less lean.

The cost of operating the seasonal business has increased, according to workers at Sabattus Deer Processing, due to escalating material prices. The cost of gloves and plastic bags, an employee said, is a major factor.

At Brettun’s Variety Store in Livermore, there were only 13 deer tagged in the evening, a far cry from last year’s numbers, which hit nearly 40 by noon. “It accelerates as the season progresses,” said Brody Guild, an employee. “But the biggest turnout is usually on the first day.”

Data released by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife indicates that the state recorded 33,157 deer slaughtered in 2020, with 109,890 hunting licenses issued, almost double what was issued in 2019. The state estimated that there were approximately 290,000 deer in the Maine woods in 2021, and encouraged residents to register for permits, given the growing white-tailed deer population.

According to an article in Outdoor Life, for every 10 permits issued, one adult doe is harvested.

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