Why Maine Whitetail Deer Are So BIG!
Northern Maine has some of the most extraordinary trophy whitetail deer hunting in the United States. There are very few areas in the world that contain more 200 pound-plus bucks per square mile than the North Woods of Maine. There is a natural selection reason for this!
Maine, it turns out, doesn’t have a large population of general whitetail deer per square mile. Hunters shouldn’t come up here with expectations of seeing lots of deer during the course of their hunt.
The main reason the deer get so big in our area has to do with natural selection, otherwise known as survival of the fittest. First, Maine lies at the northernmost edge of the whitetail deer’s range, and the winters are so severe that only the biggest can survive. The larger body size allows the deer to accumulate greater amounts of fat reserves, thus enabling them to live through the lean times of winter when nutritious food sources are not available. Small bodied deer simply do not have the body mass to survive in extreme cold weather, and only the big bodied deer get to pass on the genes.
The second reason whitetail deer are so large is the fact that the area is so immense and under-hunted. There are many bucks in the woods, and in order to breed, all bucks must fight for the does. Only the biggest get to breed, and this strengthens the gene pool. The harsh winters and breeding conditions consistent with Northern Maine have created a very large genetic strain of whitetail deer.
How to Find the Trophy Bucks: Deer Hunting from Stands
It is our experience that stand hunting is, by far, the most successful way for the average hunter to shoot a trophy buck. The majority of trophy bucks over the years were shot by our hunters who chose to hunt from tree stands, or occasionally ground stands.
At Northern Outdoors, we utilize API Grandslam GS2500 Magnum self-climbing tree stands (275lbs capacity). These stands are simple, user-friendly, have an aggressive bite on the tree, and are comfortable to sit in. Each tree stand consists of two pieces which allow you to climb the pre-selected tree to the proper height for the particular location, selected by the guide. Average climbing heights are 15 to 20 feet. You are supplied a safety harness, which attaches to you and the tree, and a ratchet strap which secures the seat of the stand to the tree, when you reach the desired height.
In this part of Maine, tree stand hunting accomplishes two very important objectives. It gets your scent off the ground, and it vastly increases your visibility. We sometimes get hunters who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with tree stand hunting. We strongly encourage all of our hunters who fall within the weight limit, to make a wholehearted attempt to use our climbing stands. Even if you can only get off the ground 10 feet, it will help increase your odds of spotting a buck. Also, those who hunt with us should understand that most of our stands are located a ways in the woods. When you hunt with us, you should be capable of walking up to ½ mile in rough terrain, to access your tree stand.
The theory for stand hunting is simple: The guide finds an area that deer prefer and sets up a stand, the hunter sits in the stand and shoots a trophy buck. It sounds easy, but there are some fine details that separate good stand hunters from those just spending time in the woods.
Stand hunting is one of the hardest ways to spend your day in the woods. It requires incredible mental concentration and perseverance. The person needs to remain very still and quiet, yet stay warm and comfortable. Keeping warm is one of the keys to successful stand hunting. Proper layering of clothing and warm footwear are essential. Our most successful hunters are those who can stay warm, keep still, maintain concentration, and stay in their stands for reasonable amounts of time.