Hunter Rene Lavoie and Turner show off a few nice pheasants taken in Gorham during an October hunt. Photo by Tom Roth


Settling into the duck blind while it was still dark, I soaked in all the night noises of the marsh. There were frogs croaking, the rattle of a kingfisher and the slap of a beaver’s tail. This moment before the sun opened the scene to our view is perhaps the most peaceful and anticipated time on the water. Our decoys were set and we were waiting for the ducks to drop in before legal shooting could commence.

A whistle of wings and a splash told us that we had some early arrivals. Before long, a “peent, peent” could be heard from the back treeline of the marsh. This was the call of the wood duck, a beautiful creature that was unfortunately now out of range. Within a few minutes it was legal shooting time and the marsh was illuminated by the rising sun. We scanned the skies and I whispered “ducks” to my hunting partner, Rene, when I saw a brace of mallards veer toward our dekes. I began a feeding chuckle on my call and they hooked to the right. They flew behind us and then appeared to my left. With cupped wings, they committed to land amongst our cork decoys and we opened fire. I took the far one and Rene took the lead duck. A two-fer! Years of hunting together taught us a sportsman’s code that the hunter to the right gets the first duck when they fly in from the left. Reverse those directions when they come in the other way. Our plan worked well and I soon had the two birds in the blind. No dog on that day, so I was the retriever.

Duck hunting is just one of the shooting sports that runs in earnest in October; a time of year filled with crisp mornings, gorgeous foliage and hunting opportunities galore.

Wing shooters also get a crack at the ruffed grouse this month, although the stock of this wily bird is not as plentiful in this part of the state. Years ago, I would work the treeline along the fields off Quaker Ridge Road in Raymond and manage to scare up a grouse or two. Notice I didn’t say shoot, just scare. For hunters that want to get some shooting in, the state-sponsored pheasant stocking program is where the action is. Locations in Gorham and Windham are stocked with pheasants all this month and provide some great shooting. If you have a dog, this is a prime opportunity to work them on these tight-sitting birds. If not, you can try to “walk them up.” Check the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website for pheasant release information.

Finally, deer hunters have archery season this month. I have been seeing a lot of deer activity in Raymond and Casco, so this will likely be a good season. This is a huge acorn year, so hunters concentrating on oak ridges or swamps will do well until these morsels are cleaned up. Wild growing apples seem to have matured later this season, so hunting around abandoned orchards or old homesites may produce results.

October ushers in the start of winter, but cold mornings and sunny days are made for bird hunting and archery deer hunts, so get out there and enjoy the fall.

Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake. He has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years and is a Registered Maine Guide.

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