A 10-point white-tailed deer walks through the woods in Freeport, Maine, on Nov. 10, 2015. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Have you ever sat back and wondered which days, or weeks, are best for buck hunting in Maine?

I certainly have, and it turns out that while some of my assumptions were on target others proved to be misconceptions.

For example, I had always believed that because of the effects of the rut, or mating period — which many Maine hunters believe is in full effect during the third week of the season — that the third week of firearms season might yield the most harvested bucks each year.

Although the numbers are relatively close, it’s actually the first full week that has produced the most bucks in recent years. Opening week accounted for 25 percent of the harvest, followed by the second week (21.8 percent), the third week (21.5 percent) and the last week (19.8 percent). This data comes from the state’s white-tailed buck harvest numbers for firearms hunting seasons from 2018 through 2021, courtesy of Nathan Bieber, deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The takeaways are that hunting the first six days of the firearms season pays dividends, since 36.8 percent of all bucks harvested during firearms season are shot in that time period.

And more hunters in the woods on Saturdays, especially opening day, means more bucks headed to the freezer.

Maine residents only day, the Saturday prior to the start of the full season, yields a significant number of deer. In fact, 12 percent of the bucks shot in a given season are taken on opening day.

It stands to reason then, given the fact hunters who work from Monday through Friday likely have fewer hunting opportunities, that Saturday is the most productive day of the week to hunt bucks.

There also are five Saturdays on the firearms deer hunting calendar, compared with four apiece for other days of the week. That leads to 32.8 percent of all bucks harvested going to the tagging station on Saturday. Even taking Maine residents only day out of the equation, the other four Saturdays combined yield 25.2 percent of the bucks killed.

Friday emerged as the No. 2 day in terms of hunter success with 14.4 percent of all bucks taken over the last four seasons combined. Monday checks in next at 13.5 percent followed by Thursday (11.8 percent), Wednesday (11.7 percent) and Tuesday (11 percent).

Otherwise, in spite of the perceived importance of the rut, it’s a relatively balanced graph in terms of the buck-specific kill over the last three weeks of November.

Ultimately, it’s all about either doing considerable homework to pattern deer movement and behavior and set up accordingly, or it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

Regardless, it is clear there are plenty of opportunities throughout the firearms season to harvest a white-tailed buck in Maine.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...