Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Deirdre Fleming email@example.com
(Continued from page 2)
Julius Koenig is a Maine Guide and hunter. His hometown of Vassalboro has some of the state’s highest turkey and deer populations, often making it the No. 1 hunting town in Maine.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Farmland on Dunham Road in Vassalboro is posted as private property. Wildlife biologist Keel Kemper, who lives in Sidney, between Augusta and Waterville, says he has seen more outdoorsmen seeking landowner permission for hunting privileges.
But in southern Maine -- as land has become more developed -- Lindsay said hunters have needed to adopt the practice of knocking on doors, meeting with private landowners, and asking for permission to hunt their woods and fields. And they're doing it, so that come November, they're getting their deer.
Kemper said he definitely has seen more hunters seeking landowner permission.
"Asking for permission is becoming more and more a way of life. It's not something people here grew up with. When I first moved here from Georgia, that stunned me. Where I grew up, you asked permission if you wanted to get out alive," Kemper said. "If access was as bad as everyone says, that would be reflected in the numbers (of big game tagged)."
Will there be even more of a shift in hunting as more and more hunters discover the deer and turkey hunting in southern Maine?
"There are probably more hunters that hunt in southern Maine, I would agree with that," said Allen Starr, a regional wildlife biologist in Enfield, just north of Bangor. "If they had a choice of driving three to four hours to northern Maine where they will not see deer in a week of hunting, or maybe not traveling that far with gas prices, they maybe will choose to stay closer to home."
Gunnar Gunderson, president of the Lincoln County Rifle Club in Damariscotta, wonders if there is a seismic shift taking place in the way hunters hunt today.
He wonders if the era of the more "traditional" hunt that takes place far out in the woods has been replaced by a quicker alternative and, as with so much in our society today, something closer to home.
"I knew a guy from New Jersey, a hunter, he was afraid of going in the woods. He wouldn't go in the woods where he couldn't see the paved road. He hunted in New Jersey," said Gunderson, a 28-year hunting education instructor.
To be sure, biologists across the state who see the per-town tallies of deer, turkey, bear and moose taken by hunters each year observe a pattern evolving in the southernmost part of Maine. And it is a pattern that may eventually debunk the myth of the "two Maines," that long-held view of the state as a place encompassing a more rural outdoor sporting public to the north, and a more urban populace to the south.
"Hunting is alive and well in southern Maine," said Gunderson in Damariscotta. "I've taught close to 2,500 people hunter safety. When I first moved up here there were lots of slob hunters, but I think the behavior is way better. Besides hunter safety we now have a discussion about landowner ethics in our classes. And we push that hard."
Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:
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Vassalboro, seen here on the north side of town looking south along Route 201, had 3,312 big-game kills from 2000 to 2012, making it the top hunting town in Maine for that period.