Waterfowl Hunting in Aroostook County, Maine
Known to some as the crown of Maine, Aroostook County is nestled between the Bay of Fundy and the St. Lawrence River. The large tracts of forest and agricultural land make the area a hunter’s paradise, home to moose, whitetail, black bears, ruffed grouse, woodcocks and more. But its situation between two large bodies of water and its abundance of lakes, ponds, and streams make Aroostook fertile ground for both native waterfowl and migrating populations.
For three years running, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MEIFW) have partnered in banding waterfowl in the county, numbering Canada Geese, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Mallards, Black Ducks, Wood Ducks, and Teal as just some of the waterfowl a hunter might encounter. As one local hunter put it, “I’ve personally seen 10 different species so far this season and that makes for some exciting shooting opportunities.”
Waterfowl seasons generally run from late September to the end of December, but be sure to check exact dates with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There is an early Canada Goose season that runs from early September to the end of the month. Bag limits are generous with goose and duck single limits set at 6. You will have to purchase both state and federal stamps, and you need to be aware of a recent change in regulations that prohibits the use of lead pellets. Most hunters opt for economical steel pellets, but some swear by more expensive copper- or nickel-coated steel, tungsten or bismuth loads because of their more reliable knock down power.
Hunting in the area can be as easy as spending an evening scouting local water holes with your binoculars to find roosting spots. Some hunters choose jump hunting, wading the banks of ponds and streams to flush waterfowl in the early morning. Others opt for blind and decoy hunting. But one of the local favorites is float hunting, where a jon boat or stable canoe is deployed by a two-person team at a water hole. While one paddles quietly forward to flush the birds, the other takes a shot at the startled fowl. Then the two hunters switch positions. This offers the added benefit of watching the sun rise over the shore.
Now is the time then to take advantage of the beauty and excitement that is waterfowl hunting in Aroostook County, Maine. With the fall foliage as your backdrop, you’re likely to encounter a myriad of wildlife from snowshoe rabbits and moose to coyotes and bobcats. But most of all, you’ll find it a rich waterfowl hunting experience.
Ivan Young is a wildlife writer in partnership with outdoor and recreational fabric retailer Seattle Fabrics.