the season for deer
ADAM URENECK, STAFF WRITER
To most Bowdoin students, November in Maine represents
leafless trees, cold drizzle, and approaching finals. To Mainers, it means
deer season. Annually, hunters polish off their rifles and put on blaze
orange to search for a big buck.
In 1998, 209,992 hunters went into the great Maine woods.
Nearly two hundred and ten thousand armed citizens left their homes to
search for a deer. A common question often asked is, "Aren't the woods
a war zone? Why aren't people shot?"
The reality is that some people are accidentally shot.
Four people were wounded or killed this last year alone, despite the required
blaze orange outfits. Does this mean that Bowdoin students should not
exit their cozy dorms? No, but be careful when you enter the woods. A
couple of simple precautions could prevent disaster.
First of all, if you feel as though you need to take
a quick cross-country run, don't wear white mittens and a gray sweatshirt.
You'll look like a white tail deer prancing through the woods.
Wear unnatural colors, such as light blues, reds, and
yellow. Most important, remember to put on some item of clothing that
is blaze orange. The local Wal-Mart or convenience store has an entire
aisle dedicated to such items.
Four different forms of weaponry-the shotgun, the rifle,
the bow, and the muzzleloader-take deer. The type of device one chooses
depends on the difficulty the hunter wishes to make the hunt (the bow
being the hardest to use and the rifle being the easiest), the regulation
for the town in which the hunter plans to hunt, and the season allotted
by the state.
Brunswick, because of its higher human population density,
requires hunters to use shotguns and bows only. Shotguns fire a rifled
slug or buckshot, which could be accurate up to 100 yards, if you're lucky.
A rifle bullet, on the other hand, is accurate up to 250 yards away and
can travel up to a mile before hitting the dirt.
A total of 31,473 deer were shot last year; a success
rate of 17.8 percent for hunters. The number of deer shot in Maine is
comparatively low compared to more southern and western states, though.
In Texas, over half a million deer are shot each year.
This is precisely why men and women from around the country come to Maine
to hunt deer. It's hard to shoot a deer here. Maine also boasts some of
the largest white tail deer in the country. An average-size deer in Pennsylvania
is 30 pounds less than the average Maine deer-a fact that most Mainers
are proud to tell.
Some sections of the state are much more productive
than others. Vassalboro, a small farming community just north of Waterville,
boasts the highest deer kill of any other town in Maine with 256 slain
Washington County, a wasteland for deer hunters filled
with coyotes and blueberry barrens, has many towns that don't report a
single deer shot. How many deer were killed in Brunswick?
In 1999, 138 deer were harvested from the scattered
coastal pines. This is a high number, compared to the northern end of
the state, given Brunswick's limited hunting space.
Brunswick, like many other southern coastal towns, has
one of the highest deer densities in the state. In fact, extra deer permits
were issued for bow hunters the last two years. The coastal islands in
Casco Bay had to call in sharpshooters to cure deer overpopulation.
Deer hunting in Maine is an established tradition that
seems almost anachronistic in an age of packaged hamburger and supermarkets.
Why then do deer hunters purchase $500 rifles, spend $25 on ammunition
and $200 for clothing?
The answer is simple-because their fathers did it.