Early this morning — much earlier than this paper likely found its way to your front porch, I’d bet — thousands of Mainers shook themselves awake, grabbed their gear and headed afield in one of the state’s most cherished traditions.

Though archery enthusiasts have been in the woods for weeks, and though nonresident hunters can’t participate until Monday, today, for most of Maine’s deer hunters, is opening day.

Weeks of plotting and planning are over. Tree stands are set. Hunter orange clothing has been hauled out and checked. The gear has all been itemized: Compass, knife, matches, ammunition — check, check, check, check.

Maybe you’ll meet a friend or two for a morning hunt. Maybe you’ll go solo. Maybe you’ll knock off at noon and return to the chores you’ve been avoiding. Maybe you’ll stick it out until a half-hour after sunset, hoping for just one shot at the buck you’ve been watching for years.

Whatever the case, if you’re a member of this nonexclusive club, you’ll be out there, somewhere, today. All the planning is over. All the mistakes of the past are forgotten. All that’s left is a month of new opportunities. A month of solitude in the woods. A month to make more memories that will last a lifetime.

Yes, today’s opening day, for many Mainers.

It’s opening day for you. For me. For our friends and relatives. For everyone who thinks there’s nothing better than creeping through the autumn woods, looking for signs, hoping that this year, finally, is the year a big buck ends up in the right place at the right time.

We’ve been waiting all year for this day.

Have fun. Enjoy it. Savor it. Tell your friends about it.

And be safe.

Some deer data

As we mark another opening day of deer season, here are a few tidbits to consider.

• Today’s hunters may be in the woods much earlier, but can legally hunt only from 6:40 a.m. until 5:57 p.m. — a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset.

• A total of 48,825 lucky resident and nonresident hunters will be armed this year with an any-deer permit. The coveted permit allows them to shoot does or fawns instead of bucks, if they desire.

• The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife expects hunters to tag 20,919 deer this year. The breakdown, according to pre-season estimates (which are dependent on normal weather and hunter effort) is that 5,922 does, 2,982 fawns and 12,015 bucks will be shot in 2010.

In 2009, just 18,045 deer were harvested by hunters in Maine.

Boland gets new post

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced on Friday that it has promoted longtime employee John Boland to director of the bureau of resource management.

Boland replaces Ken Elowe, who accepted a federal position a few months back.

Boland is no stranger to Maine outdoors enthusiasts, as his career with the department spans some 33 years.

He has held positions as a fish culturist, assistant regional fisheries biologist and regional fisheries biologist, and for the past eight years he has been the department’s director of operations for the fisheries division.

According to a DIF&W press release, Boland will manage 120 employees and a $14 million budget, and will oversee all projects and initiatives related to wildlife and freshwater fish management.

“[Boland is] well respected within the department and understands the goals of our resource management plans,” DIF&W Commissioner Roland “Dan” Martin said in the press release. “Through solid partnerships with our employees and others, John will help advance the department’s objectives for the betterment of Maine’s residents, its visitors and its economy.”

Boland, who lives in New Gloucester, has been serving as acting director of the bureau of resource management since Elowe’s departure.

“I’m proud that our department has excelled at protecting Maine’s fish and wildlife resources and their habitats, while greatly expanding hunting and fishing opportunities for outdoor recreationalists,” Boland said in the release. “The role of the bureau director is to ensure that our high standards for managing resources are continued so that our children and theirs can enjoy Maine’s outdoors the same way we do today. That is my goal.”

Congratulations to Boland, and good luck to him in his new position.

Avatar photo

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...