It’s mid-August already and subtle signs of seasonal change are everywhere. I’m happiest about the lower temperatures, cooler nights and reduced humidity – all the things that make summer more bearable for heat-haters like me. I don’t know why but I can stand beside a red-hot wood stove in January and love it but when it is 90 degrees outdoors with 70+ dew points I feel more wilted than the potted plants on my back deck. Give me a cool, breezy morning with temperatures in the low 60s and I’m ready to pile into all the chores, odd jobs and yard work that I put off because it was too hot.
My aversion to the heat seems odd considering that I spent most of my teenaged years working summers on tobacco farms, potato farms and melon farms, where heat and humidity were the order of the day. I spent most days, starting at dawn and ending at dusk, in open fields broiling in the sun. As long as I had enough water (warm water in most cases) I was fine.
Now, 50 years later, if temperatures in the 90s greet me at the door I’m more likely to go back inside and sit by a fan with a cold iced tea in my hand. If I had any appreciation for hot weather it’s long gone now.
Happily for Mainers like me the worst of summer is likely over. We’ll certainly get a few warmer, sunny days this month and next but those days of heavy, choking, oppressive heat are on the back burner now. If you’re a fan of such weather you are certainly welcome to my share!
As it stands now the 2017 brook fishing season ends tomorrow, and in two weeks sportsmen will be focusing on hunting black bears over bait (starting Aug. 28). It has been legal to place baits for bears for a couple of weeks now, so some folks may have noticed camo-clad fellows hauling truck-loads of 5-gallon buckets filled with meat scraps, bacon grease, pastries and even melted candy to secret sites all through the woods. Not all of those bait sites will be visited by bears and not all of the sites that do attract bears will be noticed by the biggest, oldest boars. I have hunted over bear baits in a number of states and Canadian provinces over the years and have had every kind of luck, including none at all. On my worst hunt (in Maine) I hunted a different bait site every day and never saw a single bear. At other times my site would be infested with cubs, yearlings or sows with cubs, none of which I would be interested in taking home with me. On several occasions I had shooter bears come in but not close enough for a clear shot, and other times I’ve had bears come in that were so “ugly” (their thin hides matted, rubbed and patchy) that I did not shoot. In two instances I had better than good luck when aggressive bears over 300 pounds climbed my ladder and had to be shot at point-blank range as they tried to step up on my platform! If you don’t think hunting bears over bait is exciting try letting one come into the stand with you – I’m sure you’ll rethink your position on the topic.
Just three weeks out is Maine’s 2017 Expanded Archery Deer Season, which included that area generally east of Interstate Route 95 and several other areas where deer are abundant but hunting opportunities are not. A map of the Expanded Archery Zone is available for scrutiny on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Web site (www.mefishwildlife.com). There are a number of special rules and regulations governing the Expanded Archery Deer Season (which remains open through Dec. 9), but overall this is a great opportunity for hunters who want to spend more time afield and add an extra antlerless deer or two to the freezer when it’s all over. Check current regulations for specifics but generally speaking additional deer may be taken in the Expanded Archery Zone by anyone possessing a bonus antlerless deer permit or a Superpack antlerless deer permit. Otherwise, it’s bucks only statewide for all other hunters included October bowhunters except those who were drawn for an antlerless deer permit in their chosen zone.
Obviously, hunting has become more complicated in recent years but there is a couple of weeks remaining for hunters to bone up on the 2017 rules, regulations, license and permit requirements before the shooting starts.
Early-season goose hunters will need to buy state ($7) and federal ($25) duck stamps before they can start shooting local birds Sept. 1. The stamps are good for the entire fall waterfowl season for both puddle ducks and sea ducks, geese and whatever else you choose to hunt that has webbed feet. Back in those tobacco farming days I mentioned there were no state duck stamps and a federal duck stamp cost all of $3. Minimum wage at the time was under $1 (at least for farm workers) so a duck stamp was a pricey item even then. Minimum wage now is something in the range of $8 so I guess things have not changed as far as duck stamp affordability goes.
For those who prefer to end their summer on a wet note there is still plenty of fishing opportunities awaiting anglers both inland and on the coast. Most of the late-season fishing is allowed with artificial lures or flies and is nearly all catch-and-release for the more popular species such as trout, salmon, lake trout, black bass and the like. Some waters do include a one-fish daily limit, so once again it’s a good idea to log onto the MDIFW’s Web page and check the current regulations for any rivers, lakes or ponds you plan to fish in late August, September or October.
Fans of “other species” including pickerel, perch, sunfish, bullheads and similar warm-water species can fish for their favorite chowder ingredients year-round with no size or bag limits to worry about. Check the regulations anyway, being that laws are meant to change and it’s always good to be on the safe side. Imagine someday getting a ticket for catching too many horned pout!