There is nothing more important to the success of a Maine deer hunter than to have access to a good tract of land — one that holds white-tails.
That’s why R.J. Sirois was so pleased some 15 years ago when he found a friendly landowner close to his home in Orrington who would allow him to hunt there.
During that time, as he learned the lay of the land there, and on an abutting piece of property for which he also obtained permission to hunt, Sirois figured out where the deer were. He has shot several of them there.
Those dynamics made the 2022 season bittersweet for Sirois. He would have the opportunity to hunt the land one last time, two years after he was told the land was being sold and would be developed for housing.
“It’s kind of sad,” Sirois said. “It’s so close to my house. There were a lot of good things about that spot.”
On Saturday, Nov. 26, the final day of Maine’s firearms season, Sirois and his best friend, Justin Archer, visited the property for the final time.
Sirois sat in his treestand, while Archer positioned himself in a ground blind. They hunted all morning, then took a break for lunch before returning to the woods.
As the afternoon went on, Sirois began coming to grips with the end of an era.
“I’m just thinking about everything, all the times I’ve had there,” Sirois said. “There’s like 40 minutes to go and it’s starting to get dark and I’m like, oh man, I didn’t want it to end like this.”
It was then Sirois received a text message from another friend, Dustin Mitchell, whom he had met while hunting the same property. Mitchell had already tagged out but, unbeknownst to Sirois, was driving around the area doing some scouting.
He told Sirois that the big buck they had seen in the area was standing in a nearby field. Unfortunately, it was on an adjacent tract of posted land.
Sirois was conflicted. Could he maybe get close enough to call the buck back into the woods on his side? Legal shooting time was running out.
“So I climbed down and I’m thinking, I don’t know if this is right, because I never do that,” Sirois said of leaving his stand.
With 20 minutes left in the season, Sirois was walking along a trail that leads to the field. He reached a spot where he could see the “Access by Permission Only” sign, at the edge of the field, in the distance.
He stopped and then immediately heard something coming through the woods.
“I look up and there’s a doe and she’s heading right toward me like a stampede of bulls. She’s gonna run me over,” said Sirois, who estimated it was 75 yards away.
He quickly realizes that the deer is being pursued by a buck.
“He’s running and snorting and chasing her down. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
The deer continued to charge toward Sirois without noticing that he was standing in the trail. He raised his rifle and aimed, hoping the doe would bust him and pull off.
“They never even knew I was there,” he said.
Sirois was ready when the doe, 10 yards away, finally diverted from its path. He put his scope on the chest of the buck and fired. The deer went down immediately.
“It was insane to get that close and to see that buck chasing down that doe like that,” he said.
“It was definitely the funnest experience I’ve ever had, the craziest one,” Sirois said.
The buck wasn’t the big one Mitchell had seen in the field, but it didn’t matter. Mitchell and Archer were close by and went to help Sirois with the last drag off the property.
“My son got his first deer out there and I’ve got probably eight or nine bucks out there,” Sirois said. “My brother and my best friend have gotten a lot of deer there, too.”
deer hunt totals
Even though the land had been sold in 2020, it wasn’t until this year that word came down that work would begin in December to begin converting it to house lots.
Sirois simply wanted to take advantage of his last, best chance. He admits that without Mitchell’s unsolicited scouting help and the text, there would have been a much less exciting ending.
“I never could have scripted the way that went down,” Sirois said. “It’s not like me to climb down out of the stand. They probably would have been 75 yards away, out of sight.”
As it turns out, Sirois and his friends, through some connections, likely will have some excellent hunting ground to explore next year. That helps take the sting away.
“I’m thinking that maybe it could be a positive thing, open us up to new areas,” Sirois said. “We’ve got some really good prospects.”
Regardless of the change in hunting territory, nothing will erase the many fond memories Sirois has of his old deer hunting stomping grounds.