Imagine an area that could provide an opportunity to hunt or view any of Maine’s big game species, pursue a variety of small game (including waterfowl), search for a plethora of songbirds, access a large, scenic river for boating and fishing or visit rare and exemplary natural communities and ecosystems. The Mattawamkeag River WMA, located in Drew Plantation, Kingman, Webster Plantation and Prentiss Township, is just such an area.
In southern Maine, winter rules for about one third of the year. To the north and west, due to latitude, elevation and distance from the moderating effects of the ocean, it can prevail for nearly half the year. We all know the challenges and benefits winter can provide. When the stoves are cranked, the wind is howling and darkness comes at 4:00 p.m., I often think about how tough wild animals must be to make it to the next day. The animals have evolved one or more of three strategies to respond to winter; leave, hibernate or remain active.
From the Dept of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry:
March 21, 2016
For more information, contact: Samantha Howard at 207-287-7620
Commissioner Whitcomb formally announces adoption of international grading system for maple syrup to promote the industry
AUGUSTA – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb today formally announced that Maine has adopted the international grading system for maple syrup. His notification, required for adoption of this international standard to take effect, comes in advance of this year’s Maine Maple Sunday, held Sunday, March 27, 2016. Most Maine producers have already implemented the voluntary standards in hopes of providing consumers with a better understanding of the natural product they are buying.
Maple Sunday is held annually, every fourth Sunday of the month. Participating sugarhouses will be open for visitors to enjoy freshly made maple syrup and candy, demonstrations of syrup production, sugarbush tours and a variety of other family activities.
Governor Paul R. LePage recently highlighted maple tapping season with Maine Maple producers on the Blaine House lawn by following an annual tradition: the tapping of a maple tree. The Governor recognized the economic contributions of Maine’s maple syrup industry and potential for continued growth.
“Maine’s maple industry contributes an estimated $48.7 million to the Maine economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “That includes a direct contribution of $27.7 million and multiplier effects. The Maine maple industry is working hard to realize its potential for creating more jobs, business opportunities and locally-produced products valued by consumers.”
The voluntary standards announced by Commissioner Whitcomb are designed to match those used by other countries in order to give consumers standardized information for selecting maple syrup. It is in response to a 2010 petition from the International Maple Syrup Institute, an organization of producers in the United States and Canada.
“The new system, utilized by most Maine producers, combines 4-5 different systems into one standard that is easier for consumers to follow,” said Whitcomb. “Customers benefit from a system that more accurately portrays what they are buying and how it tastes. Retailers can also more easily choose the grades they want to stock based on customer preferences.”
Maine Maple Statistics:
545,000 gallons were produced last year, worth $17.4 million
Maine’s industry has an annual statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $48.7 million in output, 805 full-and part-time jobs, and $25.1 million in labor income
Maine has the third largest syrup industry in this country. Maine has the largest maple producing county in the country – Somerset County
Maine has around 1.4 million taps
Some sugarhouses will hold events on both Saturday and Sunday. For a list and map of participating sugarhouses, visit the Maine Maple Producers website: http://www.mainemapleproducers.com/
Just because the whitetail and moose seasons have long passed us by, it doesn’t mean hunters still can’t hear the call of the wild and feel a yearning for the Maine woods.
For a lot of us, small game takes center stage this time of year, but with vacation time used up, Saturdays become the only day to get afield. If you want to spend all weekend in the woods, here’s how to do it…
As we turn the page on the new year, so do we turn our focus to new hunting opportunities. Snowshoe hare, fox, bobcat & red squirrel are my pursuits when the deer rifle gets tucked away until next season and coyote are always on my radar. However, unlike my home state of Pennsylvania, in Maine we cannot hunt any game or this elusive predator on Sunday.
So what’s an outdoorsman to do when the need to breathe that crisp, fresh air and find that very special solitude that only the Maine woods can provide?
Antler shed hunting is a great way to spend a Sunday long after the tree stands have come down and the ground blinds have been packed away, waiting for the spring gobbler season. Everything we love about big game hunting applies equally to shed hunting. The preparation, scouting, tracking and hopefully, the harvest, are what makes a hunt. Not necessarily the quarry we seek.
Do your preparation and scouting on Saturday as you pursue small game, noting tracks, overlapping habitats and any areas of special interest. On Sunday, leave your gun in the cabinet and enjoy a slow walk in the woods, following tracks to your harvest.
An added bonus to hunting sheds is the ability to get family members not normally involved in hunting, a chance to spend time together, strengthen bonds and rediscover the wonders the Maine woods provide us.
The best time to hunt for antler sheds is after the rut, or mating season. Dwindling levels of testosterone cause the base of antlers, called the pedicel, to dissolve and eventually, the antler falls off. Deer and moose both need to recover after the exertion of the rut and conserve energy in the coming winter months. Shedding antlers allows much needed calcium to be absorbed by the recovering buck or bull, not travelling northward to keep feeding those racks. Typically, the key window for shed dropping is late November through January.
Bedding areas, along fence lines, edges of fields and funnels are all great spots to find sheds.
Where do you hunt for dropped sheds? The simple answer is to go where the deer and moose are.
If you’ve been out scouting and tracking all season, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where the travel corridors and feeding areas are. If you are not a big game hunter, fret not.
Simply identifying obstacles that can catch an antler as the animal moves through an area will get you started. Bedding areas, along fence lines, edges of fields and funnels are all great spots to find sheds. Look for antlers where deer or moose move into or out of a wood line; the branches of trees can pull at antlers, dislodging them. Fences and other obstacles that deer have to jump over can cause loose antlers to accede to gravity.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked locations to find sheds are in bedding areas. These spots are the hardest to find for non hunters and only slightly easier for the seasoned outdoorsman. They are secluded for a reason.
Bucks and bulls need to feel secure when they let their guard down, so bedding areas typically are well off the beaten path. Look for big blowdowns that provide concealment, especially on high ground.
As winter sets in and the snow begins to pile up, bedding areas will become easier to find. The depression made in the snow and the tracks leading in and out will be highly visible. Keep in mind that buck tracks are more square than doe tracks, with very pronounced dew claw imprints.
A dog’s sense of smell is said to be a thousand times more sensitive than that of humans. In fact, a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in it’s nose.
Hunting with a dog will vastly improve your shed harvest success rate. A dog’s sense of smell is said to be a thousand times more sensitive than that of a humans. In fact, a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in it’s nose.
Having a hunting dog, or even a specific breed of dog, isn’t a requirement. You’ll train your dog just as you would train for fetching. For this reason, retrievers are the popular choice for shed hunting dogs. They are eager to please, love the exercise and by their very definition, are good retrievers. My yellow lab Chuck is currently in training and he loves it. Here are some training tips.
Start by tossing a shed or shed training dummy for your dog to bring back to you. Stay consistent in your commands such as, “Get the shed” or “Find the shed”. Whatever works for you will work for your dog if you stay consistent.
Next, move on to placing the shed in the yard so it’s visible to your dog. Give your commands and have your dog retrieve it. Make sure to praise and reward your dog for every successful retrieve.
The final step is placing the shed in a hidden location such as a wood line and having your dog hunt it up. Again, praise and reward are key components here. Your dog needs to understand that by finding and retrieving the antler shed, he’s doing what you are asking of him. That makes him happy.
A lot of professional dog trainers recommend using a soft antler shed dummy trainer. I do too. If you use a real shed in the beginning, there is a chance a tine may poke your dog and may cause him to become “shed shy”. It’s much better to start out using the trainer and introduce a real shed, if available, during the final training step. The kit we use is from Dog Bone Hunter and you can read more about it here.
Moose and whitetail antler sheds make great decorations…
Now that you’ve harvested your moose or whitetail sheds, what are you going to do with them? Undoubtedly, a pair of bull moose antler sheds are the top prize; surely you have a place ready for them over the garage door or in your camp!
Moose and whitetail antler sheds make great decorations, are often used in tooling and knife handle applications and rustic furniture design. Make a whitetail rack chandelier, dresser drawer or cabinet pulls, coat rack or accent pieces. The uses are as unlimited as your imagination.
So on the next Sunday that you are feeling the call of the outdoors or are looking for new ways to the enjoy the Maine woods, give antler shed hunting a try. No license is required and you can set your own pace.
With so many ways to hunt for sheds, it’s a sure fire way to keep you connected to nature when the pace of your hunting season slows, but your desire doesn’t.
Get outdoors and try your hand (or feet as it were) at skiing and snowshoeing!
The Bureau of Parks and Lands will be pulling the Ski and Snowshoe Trailer into Aroostook State Park this month. This is a great opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy winter sports if you don’t own a ton of equipment for the whole family.
Date: February 22, 2016 – February 25, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Location: Echo Lake, west off U.S. Route 1, south of Presque Isle State Park: Aroostook Event Type: Nature Exploration
Visit our Ski and Snowshoe Trailer daily, 10:00am – 2:00pm, from February 22 through February 25.
Equipment rental is FREE with regular park admission.
Park staff will be on hand to assist and answer questions.
Contact Phone: (207) 768-8341 Website:http://www.maine.gov/aroostook Cost: Free with park admission: $1.00 for ages 5-11, $3.00 for Maine residents ages 12-64, $4.00 for non-residents ages 12-64, $1.00 for non-residents 65 and older; persons under 5 and Maine residents 65 and older are free.
Proceeds from each Trail Supporter sticker, less a $2 administrative charge, will be transferred directly to the Snowmobile Program to support the trail fund. The colorful stickers are available in three levels of support: $25, $50 and $100.
The Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has announced two special weekends in 2016 to enhance opportunities for snowmobilers this winter.
The first, being hailed as the “Tri-State Snowmobile Weekend“, is scheduled for Jan 29-31. This weekend event enables full reciprocity for Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire riders. All currently registered machines may use the entire trail network throughout all three states without having to register in another state.
Mainers can explore the trails of Vermont & New Hampshire, while our neighbors may do the same here in the Pine Tree state.
The second weekend event is the “Maine & New Brunswick Free Trail Weekend“. This event runs Feb 12-14 and enables Maine snowmobilers to obtain a free 3 day trail permit for New Brunswick. Mainers must obtain the special permit here on www.nbfsc.com. You’ll still need a current Maine registration and personal PLPD insurance ($200,000.00 min)
As with the first weekend event, this is a reciprocal event for our neighbors to the north and east to explore Maine’s 14,000 miles of trails.
A safety message from IFW:
With the increased traffic anticipated during the reciprocal snowmobile weekends, we remind all riders to obey laws of prudent operation, do not drink and drive, and be mindful that this is a family sport, so please keep our trails safe. Pay extra close attention to ice conditions on all Maine waterways especially when travelling at night, and ride with caution.
Snowmobilers should stay off roads, ride at a reasonable speed, use hand signals and ride to the right.