Another fall hunting season is almost upon us with ample options for spending time afield. Whatever your hunting plans, make sure they include taking a kid along and introducing him or her to this great outdoor tradition. And you should have little trouble picking a day, or days, as Maine provides plenty of opportunity.

New this year is a Youth Bear Hunting Day. Consistent with other such days, it allows a licensed adult to take a youngster on the Saturday prior to the opening day of bear season. This year’s youth day is Aug. 29.

Bear in mind (if you’ll pardon the pun) that bear hunting is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced hunter. It’s a great opportunity for an experienced young hunter to get first crack at these wily bruins, but I would advise against taking an inexperienced youngster.

The resident goose season starts shortly after, typically on Sept. 1, and offers a chance for some early-season wingshooting and an opportunity to teach kids about conservation. Resident geese can be a nuisance and this season is designed to thin their numbers to levels tolerable by the non-hunting public.

Next up come the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days. The first such day falls on the Saturday a week before the regular season opener for each of three hunting zones. This year it will be Sept. 19 in the north zone and Sept. 26 in the south and coastal zones. Just don’t forget your ThermaCell or insect repellent.

Hunting can be hit or miss this early. Mild weather means the morning flights end early, and aside from the migrant teal, it’s mostly resident birds so the ducks may not be quite as abundant. They will, however, be naive and should provide an hour or two of good shooting.

Hunters willing to travel for a Youth Waterfowl Hunt can take advantage of three more prior to the second half of the split season: Oct. 24 in the south zone, Nov. 7 in the coastal zone and Dec. 12 in the north zone.

Those in the south, however, may want to skip the second youth day in deference to another opportunity. Youth Deer Day also occurs on Oct. 24, a week before the Saturday opening of deer season for all residents.

Junior hunters may take a deer of either sex in a wildlife management district where any-deer permits were issued. Getting out early to scout not only increases your chances, it’s also a great way to teach woodsmanship skills to your young apprentice.

Adults fortunate enough to be drawn for an any-deer permit, a bonus permit or a Superpack permit should be aware that those permits can be transferred.

If you get one, consider transferring it to a junior hunter. Early success is vital in retaining their interest, and having more choice in which deer they may take increases their odds.

Then there are all the regular seasons. Most upland game seasons begin on Oct. 1.

Don’t overlook squirrels. Squirrel hunting is a great way to break in novice hunters.

If you decide to get away for the weekend, riding the back roads for grouse is a tradition up north, and an opportunity to teach firearms safety by making sure youngsters don’t load up until they’re out of the vehicle. It also gives kids a chance to experience some success before they take on the additional challenge of wingshooting.

Starting next year, there will no longer be a minimum age limit for junior hunters. That doesn’t mean that every kid big enough to carry a gun should. Kids mature at different rates – and while some will be ready at an earlier age, others may not.

Don’t rush them.

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

[email protected]