Ben Thibodeau poses with the deer he shot in Bucksport on the opening day of the hunting season in 2015. He said he did not hunt growing up and this is the first deer he shot since taking up the activity three years ago. At left are Thibodeau older daughters Mirabel, 5, (left) and Zoe, 8. Credit: Gabor Degre

The wait is almost over, and thousands of Maine deer hunters are eager to get into the woods over the next two weeks to take part in the annual ritual of trying to fill their tag. Before long, we’ll be greeting fellow hunters with the age-old phrase: “Get your deer yet?”

For now, though, we’re still dreaming about the big buck we’ll find this year or mourning the big one that foiled our best efforts a year ago. In that spirit, we decided to share three of our favorite BDN deer tales from recent years. We know you will agree that these stories are worth telling again and again.

If you have yet to begin scouting for the upcoming season, you’d better get cracking. Firearms deer hunting in Maine kicks off Saturday as junior hunters will head afield on Youth Deer Day. Nov. 2 is Maine’s residents-only opening day, while Nov. 4 marks the opening day for nonresidents.

Now, sit back and enjoy a few classic stories from the archives.

The Millvale monster

Back in 2015, we introduced you to Ben Thibodeau, a Brewer man who had taken up hunting three years earlier, but hadn’t had any success.

And then, his luck changed. Boy, did it change.

He shot a deer that locals had been seeing for years, and had taken to calling “The Millvale Monster.”

The deer had a unique and recognizable rack, with two large drop tines and a number of other points. Thibodeau called it an 18-pointer. His father-in-law and hunting partner said it had 19 points. Either way, it was impressive.

The Millvale Monster weighed 250 pounds, live weight, and dressed out at 197.8 pounds, including the heart.

Read the rest of the Millvale monster story here.

The cliff-jumping deer

Credit: Courtesy of Robbie Nickels

Last year, Robbie Nickels of Searsmont knocked our socks off with a story about the deer he bagged while hunting on Lasell Island, which is 5 miles off the Maine coast.

The deer had given him the slip for four straight years, but Nickels outwitted the buck while bowhunting in 2018.

That does not mean the hunt was easy.

The deer jumped off a cliff into the chilly Atlantic, and Nickels had to swim out to try to retrieve it. Then it swam away again.

Nickels eventually got his buck, after hours of effort.

Read the whole saga here.

A 282-pound buck

Neal Page of Palmyra is no stranger to hunting success — he once bagged a buck that weighed 231 pounds, but in 2015 he took an even bigger deer and was happy to tell the tale to anyone who would listen.

Credit: Courtesy of Neal Page

The buck weighed 282 pounds, field-dressed, and sported a 10-point rack. Its neck was 34 inches around.

After that, Page welcomed everyone to his yard to take a look at the deer.

“Everybody was whooping and hollering,” he said. “I make homemade jelly and jam and pickles, and they was putting the pickles to ’em. They had a lot of fun. Everybody had a lot of fun.”

Read more about Neal Page’s monster buck here.

Do you have a deer story to tell? Let us share it with our readers. Send emails to

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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...