Outdoor News

January 2018
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

January. For ice fishermen, this is the best month to fish landlocked salmon. Early March is nicer, but the action is generally slower then. Liberalized togue limits on many waters make for extra opportunity. As you make your plans to fish, don't forget to check out the names and locations of the many statewide bait dealers listed this month in the Journal. Maine in January can be harsh, but for those willing to be bold with the cold there is much to do in the outdoors. Snowsledders and cross country skiers will be busy enjoying some of the best trails in the country. Our snowmobile trail system stretches from Kittery to Fort Kent and provides incomparable snowsled opportunities. The toughest among us will keep on hunting: rabbits, coyotes and sea ducks. Meanwhile, some of us will hunker down near a warm stove, dream of spring and tie up some dry flies with an eye to warmer days. However you get through Maine in January, all of us at the Northwoods Sporting Journal wish you a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Club News

If your club or outdoor organization has news or photos that warrant publication in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, send them to: Club News, NWSJ, P.O. Box 195, W. Enfield, ME 04493, or e-mail news to: info@sportingjournal.com

Maine - Hunter Jumps Mountain Lion

The never-ending question of whether mountain lions actually exist in the Maine woods took another turn in early November when a Levant deer hunter claimed that she shot a deer that had been mauled by a mountain lion.

According to Bangor Daily News outdoor writer John Holyoke, Valerie Thompson, 25, of Levant was hunting a local woodlot when she “rounded a corner on a tote road and startled a large cat.” As the cat beat feet for the woods, Thompson said that it had a 3-foot tail. Out of concern that the cat might return, Thompson fired a warning shot. She searched for tracks but could not find any.

Shortly after the cat departed, Thompson saw antlers and a staggering deer. It appeared that the six- point buck was badly hurt. She shot the buck to put it out of its misery. According to Thompson, the deer had been severely mauled. In butchering the deer, the Levant hunter said that only a small amount of the meat was salvageable due to the mauling. She found puncture wounds and long scratches that “didn’t look like anything that a canine predator would make.”

Thompson, who has seen lynx and bobcats in the woods before, told reporter Holyoke that she had seen a mountain lion in the Levant woods two years earlier. She is now a believer, and seems to have reason to be.

Although an increasing number of Mainers claim to have seen the large cats, biologists remain skeptical, especially about the possibility of a breeding population in Maine.

Mass - Rabid Coyote Attacks Two

On Monday, November 20, 2017, a coyote attacked 2 people in North Attleboro while police were responding to calls about a coyote acting oddly. The North Attleboro police killed the coyote and sent it to the Department of Public Health (DPH) for rabies testing. DPH test results confirmed the coyote was rabid. MassWildlife would like to remind the public to report any unusual animal behavior to local authorities and to take specific actions which reduces contact with coyotes.

Attacks by coyotes on people are a rare and unusual event. The North Attleboro attacks are the eighth and ninth documented attacks on people by coyotes since the 1950's. Of the seven prior attacks, two coyotes were confirmed as rabid and three others were suspected as rabid, but the animals could not be captured for testing. The last coyote attack on a person was in the town of Kingston in 2015.

Rabies is a very serious disease affecting the nervous system of mammals, including cats, dogs, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and people. Rabies is caused by a virus and is almost always fatal. The virus found in saliva is usually spread from animal to animal or to people through bites. People who have been bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal should contact their health care provider. In most cases, immediate treatment for rabies exposure is necessary. If a pet has been attacked, owners should contact their veterinarian for advice.

MassWildlife urges the public to report any observations of wild or domestic mammals displaying symptoms of this fatal disease to local animal control officers. There are two kinds of symptoms, the "furious form" and the "dumb form". Furious form symptoms include aggressive attacks on people or other animals, or random biting of objects. Dumb form symptoms are exhibited by animals acting sick, dazed, or paralyzed.

Rabies in coyotes is relatively uncommon. Since 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has tested 14 coyotes for rabies. Cumulative reports from the DPH summarizing rabies testing from 1992-2002 and annual reports from 2003 to 2016 are available on the DPH website and can be found at www.mass.gov/dph/rabies.

Coyotes live in rural, suburban, and urban areas throughout Massachusetts except for Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Coyotes thrive where people live because there is a lot of food available--including garbage, fruit trees, bird seed, and suet. Small pets as well as wildlife attracted to birdfeeders are also a potential meal for coyotes. Coyote attacks on pets are not unusual; loose pets are at risk of attack by coyotes or other wildlife. Cats and small dogs are viewed as a potential meal for coyotes, while larger dogs, especially when off-leash, may be viewed by coyotes as a threat.

Maine - Oxford Hunting Incident

Game wardens continue to investigate a hunting related shooting incident that took place late November in Oxford, Maine. 32-year-old James Footman of Paris, Maine man was shot with a firearm while he and three others were pursuing deer yesterday afternoon. Game wardens are questioning a 21-year-old male from Oxford in that group of four as the suspected shooter. The two other hunters in the group were Darcie Bolduc, 38, from Oxford and her 12-year old son.

The hunting incident took place off the Plains Road in Oxford just after 2:00 PM. The scene was one quarter of a mile into the woods off the end of Plains Road and was on property open to hunting. Plains Road is off Number Six Road which is located a short distance east of Oxford Plains Speedway.

Footman was taken by Lifeflight to Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewiston and treated for serious injuries to both arms as a result of being struck by a bullet. Footman remains at CMMC for treatment. The Maine Warden Service will be working in conjunction with the Oxford County District Attorney’s Office to gather facts of this case to determine if charges will be filed. The shooters identity will not be released unless charges are filed against him. Details regarding clothing worn by those involved will not be released as they are evidentiary in nature. Oxford Police Department as well as Oxford Fire and Rescue assisted with this incident.

NH - Archery Program

Are you interested in trying archery for the first time? This winter, the N.H. Fish and Game Department is once again offering free archery programs for beginner archers who want to learn the ins and outs of shooting a bow and arrow. Programs will be held at Fish and Game's Owl Brook Hunter Education Center, located at 387 Perch Pond Road in Holderness, NH. Registration is now open.

Each archery program will meet one night a week, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., for four consecutive weeks:

January Programs:
- Beginner/Instructional - every Tuesday beginning January 9, 2018
- Beginner/Instructional - every Wednesday beginning January 10, 2018

February Programs:
- Beginner/Instructional - every Tuesday beginning February 6, 2018
- Beginner/Instructional - every Wednesday beginning February 7, 2018

Pre-registration is required and will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited -- enrollment is limited to 10 participants per session.

This year, all registration for the archery programs will be completed online. To register, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/owl-brook.html. Under "View Classes at Owl Brook," select "Learn to Hunt," and then select the program/dates you are interested in attending.

All equipment will be provided for the participants, if you prefer to bring your own equipment, be sure to have at least 5 arrows with target points.

"If archery is something you’ve wanted to do, come give it a try and join the fun!" said Tom Flynn, Owl Brook Facility Manager. "This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and get started in archery this winter."

For directions to Fish and Game's Owl Brook Hunter Education Center, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/owl-brook-directions.html.

Activities at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center are funded by federal Wildlife Restoration Funds, supported by your purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. Learn more at www.wildnh.com/funding/wsfr.html.

Maine - Missing Woman Found

Lisa Brasslett, 52, missing since Sunday, November 26, has just been located alive. It is now known that a game warden and several passers-by spotted Brasslett earlier this morning as she entered the roadway about 1.25 miles away from her Melody Lane home in Bradford.

Brasslett was located on a tributary of Forbes Brook on Route 155 in Bradford. Brasslett is currently receiving medical attention and was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) in Bangor. It appears Brasslett is in fair condition. With the recent cold temperatures, her family, searchers and the community are very grateful she has been located.

NH - Good Deer Season

It has been a successful season so far for deer hunters in the Granite State. The estimated statewide harvest as of November 26 was 11,135, a 12% increase over the 2016 kill at this point in the season and the second highest in the last nine years.

See a breakdown by county, with comparisons to the previous eight years, at www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer-harvest.html. These numbers are estimates based on the number of deer registered in each county (not necessarily killed there) and may not represent information from all registration stations.

Fish and Game Deer Biologist Dan Bergeron noted that harvests at this point in the season are above what they were last year in all but two counties, Coos and Strafford, which are only slightly below last year’s harvest. An especially good season seems to be underway in Belknap County, which is showing a deer harvest that is 32% above where it was last year at the same point.

The regular firearm season runs through December 3 in most of the state, giving rifle hunters roughly one more week of hunting opportunity. The exception is WMU-A in northern New Hampshire, where the regular firearm season has already closed. Archery deer hunting continues through December 15, except in WMU-A, where it ends on December 8.

"The Thanksgiving holiday marked the end of many hunters' efforts for the year, and late season hunters can now take advantage of reduced hunting pressure," said Bergeron.

Hunters can also continue to help the less fortunate by donating venison. Contact the NH Food Bank at (603) 669-9725 for more information.

Learn more about deer hunting in New Hampshire at www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer.html.

Legendary Maine Guide Nominations

Know a Registered Maine Guide who should be considered a legend? MDIF&W is currently seeking nominations for the annual Wiggie Robinson Legendary Maine Guide Award.

Registered Maine Guides are experienced and passionate outdoors men and women! If you know a Registered Maine Guide who might be a deserving candidate for this award, please submit your nomination by January 10, 2018.

This award is presented annually in memory of Master Maine Guide Wilmot (Wiggie) Robinson.

This past year's recipient, Don Helstrom, Jr., of Medway was the ninth recipient of the award. Don has been a registered Maine Guide for 56 years and has held a leadership role in the Maine Professional Guides Association since its inception in 1979. Over the years, Don has guided thousands of clients in the Maine woods on a wide variety of adventures. Don has stressed safety to all his hunters, has promoted youth hunting for years, and always is a strong supporter of Maine’s outdoor heritage. Don grew up in the Millinockett area and has shared the passion for the outdoors that Wiggie Robinson embodied.

This award will be presented to the recipient at the annaul Maine Professional Guides Association banquet.

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