The gifts are all unwrapped and if you didn’t get that one special item you wanted, you probably got some cash or gift cards.

You can spend that frivolously, or wisely, and one of the wisest investments you can make is a hunting license. For the cost of a fast food meal or dinner and drinks at a fancy restaurant, depending on which license you choose, you can enjoy more than 300 days afield.

Most sportsmen and women will probably be out on the hard water come Jan. 1, if they can find it. Others will opt for the forests and fields. Duck season in the coastal zone remains open for a few days in January, then reopens next October. With inland waters freezing up, the blacks, mallards and a few other random stragglers that stick around through winter are now concentrated along the coast and eager to join flocks of faux friends among your decoy spread. Meanwhile, you still have a couple weeks to hunt sea ducks before that season closes until November. Boating on the ocean in January is an endeavor, but sunrise among the coastal islands and waves of eiders make it a worthwhile one.

You can chase snowshoe hares until the end of March. Solo hunters slip through the firs and alder thickets hoping to bust a bunny and get off a quick shot before they vanish. Those with dogs derive as much pleasure listening to the hound music as they do trying to predict which path a hare might loop back on during the chase.

Many contend that the heart of winter is the best time for hunting predators like fox, bobcat and coyote. Sitting over a bait pile in the deep cold takes patience and endurance. Calling can sometimes turn the tide, especially later in the season when breeding season nears and males become more territorial. Fox and bobcat hunters have to call it quits toward the end of February, but coyote hunters can continue until the next season rolls around.

Spring turkey season starts in May, but wise hunters are out weeks before scouting and studying the habits of these formidable fowl. You have five weeks to bag two bearded birds, and while the first one may come easy, they wise up quickly to the ways of hunters.

Summer is a slow time for hunters, but allows time to catch up on neglected household projects or hit the water with hook and line. You can still hone your shooting skills and rid the neighborhood of garden-pillaging pests by plinking groundhogs while you wait for the spate of fall seasons.

Many outdoor folks are still on the water or the golf course when bear, early goose and snipe and rail seasons kick off in late August and early September, followed shortly thereafter by the expanded archery season. Then the leaves change color and start to fall, ushering in a full schedule of hunting opportunities from field and forest to lakes, ponds, rivers and ocean.

Whether you opt for a basic $26 resident license or a $200 Superpack, a Maine hunting license is a bargain by any standard. It gives you privilege and opportunity. Once you’ve spent the money, the next big decision will be how to spend your time.

Hours afield are priceless so make sure you spend them wisely as well.

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

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.