Another Maine deer season is over for all but those few bold lads and lasses who hunt with bow or muzzleloader in those areas still open. If yours was not successful you can take some solace in the fact you’re in the majority. You can also take some pro-active steps toward increasing the odds you won’t have to eat tag soup again next fall. Take a few moments to look back on this season and consider why you may not have scored.

Couldn’t find a deer? There are many possible reasons for this but a big one is that you didn’t put in enough time and effort scouting. There’s no better time to start your preseason scouting for next fall than now. Snow should be covering much of the state, making it much easier to track deer, learning their whereabouts and travel routes. Take notes now, then pick up where you left off when late summer or early fall rolls around again.

If you haven’t already, you might also consider adding a few trail cameras to your equipment arsenal. They can be invaluable for pre- and in-season scouting. They’ll tell you where the deer are and where they are not, saving you a ton of time and effort, not to mention minimizing your intrusion into the woods.

Couldn’t find the right deer? Kudos to you for holding out if you were looking for an older, bigger buck. The odds were stacked firmly against you with a low deer population and a high rate of yearling bucks in the annual harvest. Scouting is certainly a factor here as well but if you’re consistently seeing only younger deer, you might want to consider trying a new area.

Certain areas have higher potential for producing bigger bucks. One big factor is hunting pressure. If you see a lot of hunters and they’re after any deer, few will make it to age 3 or 4. Get away from the other hunters and the road system, and focus on river drainages or concentrations of food, and does.

Maybe your timing was off, which could apply to either or both of the above. If you only have one week to hunt, you’ll want it to be the best week, the peak of rut when bucks are more likely to be out and about during daylight hours. According to the research, peak breeding occurs in Maine from Nov. 17-23 for mature does, followed a week later by yearling does. And there will be a flurry of rutting activity leading up to the peak. You’d be well advised to concentrate your efforts during one of the two middle weeks of November. Bear in mind that much depends on weather and hunting pressure as well.

Did you shoot and miss? Lots of possible reasons for that too, and most of them boil down to you. Maybe you got a little lax this year and didn’t check your rifle before the season to make sure the sights were still on. Maybe you needed a steadier rest, like a shooting stick. Perhaps you just need practice. Get familiar with your weapon and ammo before next season rolls around.

There are countless other reasons for why you may not have been successful in filling your deer tag. Often it is failure rather than success that we learn the most from, and ultimately makes us better hunters. It’s also what drives us, and makes us keep going back out again.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

[email protected]