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Hunting Whitetail

Maine’s Incredible Heavyweight Whitetails

by Sheila Grant   |  September 30th, 2010 3

When Mainers talk about “big bucks,” they mean deer that weigh over 200 pounds field dressed. Here’s a look at some of the top-ranking whitetails taken in the Pine Tree State last season.


Orrin Valente of Cumberland (left) and Harold Larrabee admire Valente’s 277-pound buck, the largest deer certified in Maine in 2004, taken near Caribou Lake.
Photo by Robert Verrill

How many big bucks were taken during Maine’s 2004 season? Just ask the Biggest Bucks In Maine Club. The club was started years ago by a state agency that no longer exists. Their hope was that if word got out about how many 200-pound-plus bucks were roaming the Maine woods, more hunters would be lured into the state.

Harry Vanderweide, editor and general manager of The Maine Sportsman, which now keeps track of Maine’s top bucks, said hunters must weigh field-dressed deer on state-certified scales, fill out an application card and have it signed by a Maine game warden.

There were 625 “biggest” bucks registered in 2004.

“In a good year, we’ll get at least one deer that has a field-dressed weight of around 300 pounds, and two or three that are over 290 pounds,” he said. “The live weight of such deer would be in excess of 360 pounds, and that’s a heck of a big buck.”

The 2004 harvest wasn’t the heaviest on record, but Maine still had lots of happy hunters.

BIGGEST OF ALL!
Orrin Valente of Cumberland registered a 277-pound buck, the largest deer certified in 2004.

Valente has hunted for years with Robert Verrill, staying at Verrill’s camp near Caribou Lake. On Nov. 6, Valente, Verrill and several hunting buddies arrived by late afternoon. They decided to ride old logging roads looking for tracks and crossing trails. They found the tracks of a large buck following a doe, but it was too late to hunt the deer.

They had no luck finding the big buck at the end of those tracks on Monday. On Tuesday, the hunters returned to the tracks and split up. It was a crisp, cool day and the snow was crunchy underfoot.

“I was following a skidder path,” Valente recalled, “doing your typical stop-and-look. I got in there about half a mile and still hadn’t seen anything. I was looking at an old, grown-up chopping full of raspberry bushes, thinking it would be an ideal place for a deer to stand and watch me.”

When Valente took his next step, the buck broke cover and disappeared in two long lopes.

“I was in awe because it was such a beautiful animal,” Valente said. The buck disappeared behind a knoll. Valente crept over the rise and looked down into the valley. Nothing. He topped the knoll again and spotted the buck standing about 150 yards away. He carefully aimed just behind the buck’s shoulder and fired.

“He made a mistake; I did everything right,” Valente said.

“It took five of us an hour to drag him out,” Valente said.

“This is the biggest buck I’ve ever gotten,” he said. “I’ve taken one that was 190 before and a lot in the 170-and 180-pound range. I’m not one for trophies, but this was a beautiful animal — so unusual.”

MORE MONSTER BUCKS
Somebody must have let Greg Pinette’s big buck do a little growing over the years, too. Pinette took Maine’s second largest buck, a bruiser weighing in at 275 pounds, on Nov. 12 in T15, R8 in the northern reaches of the state.

Third place among the state’s big-buck hunters this year went to Walter Scullin Jr. of Phillips. Scullin said he had come to Maine from New Jersey to hunt big bucks for 40 years. He is now a Maine resident, and thrilled to have access to 8,000 acres of public hunting grounds behind his mountain home. He had taken a couple of bucks weighing in at over 200 pounds during those years, but nothing to top the 272-pound 8-point buck he shot on Nov. 11 in his own back yard.

“It was about 8:30 a.m.,” Scullin recalled. “There were three of us making a little push through a swampy area.” The three friends knew a big buck was nearby because the animal had crossed the road in front of one of them before legal shooting time.

“I always like to get a trophy, but as the season goes on and I see a smaller deer with horns, I’ll take it,” Scullin said. “We had breakfast and then started hunting that piece. He happened to be in there, and he ran right up the ridge to me. I took a shot and I got him. We were actually only about one-quarter mile from the house.

“I was shocked when he jumped out because I realized how big he really was. We were lucky. We could get to about 30 feet from him with the truck. It took all our effort with the three of us to get him up into that truck with one on the head and two on the rump. I was tired!”

Clarence Beayon of Bomoseen, Vermont, is just as happy with his 270-pound buck. Beayon, his brothers and a group of friends hunt the Allagash each year. They don’t usually go until the third week, but snow came early in 2004.

“It was crusty, poor conditions for tracking, but at least we could find the deer,” Beayon said. Around noon on Nov. 18, Beayon met one of his brothers on an old tote road.

“We came onto some tracks of a buck with a doe,” he said. “I said I’d take the track. My brother stayed on the back track to see if the deer would circle back. I tracked the buck for three hours. He didn’t want to leave the area because there was a bunch of does. I saw him three times but didn’t have a good shot.”

Beayon finally ran out of daylight. He checked his GPS unit and discovered that he was almost three miles from where he had started tracking.

The next morning, Beayon returned to the same area.



Beayon finally ran out of daylight. He checked his GPS unit and discovered that he was almost three miles from where he had started tracking.
 

“I figured he’d go back, and that’s what he did,” Beayon said. “I knew he’d be right back on that hill. I tracked most of the morning. There were two good ones there, so I didn’t know which one I was following. I met a friend who was sitting in a clearcut. We decide to hunt back toward the truck.”

They jumped the buck as it was going back up the hill with a doe.

“I just happened to be the one to get him,” Beayon said. “I pretty much lucked onto him.”

JUST PLAIN LUCKY
Sidney Bubar Jr. of Bradford said planning had nothing to do with the 269-pound buck that he registered.

“I was very lucky, and I know that,” Bubar said.

On Nov. 2, Bubar’s cousin, Dale Hall Jr., was headed to work. He dropped Bubar off between Rockwood and Jackman.

“It was cold, but the weather was good when I started,” Bubar said.

By the time he shot the buck, there was freezing rain, sleet, snow — a little bit of everything.

“I was almost just sightseeing. I didn’t expect to be that lucky,” Bubar said. “I was hoping I’d see a buck — don’t get me wrong. That’s why I was out there.”

Bubar, who hunts for meat rather than trophies, was dumbfounded when he came across two big bucks fighting as he walked the railroad tracks.

It took Bubar “about 10 seconds” to decide to take a shot at the closest buck, a 9-pointer. “They were just distracted, and I was very lucky.”

IS IT YOUR TURN?
Vanderweide expects a bumper crop of big bucks for 2005.

“I spent some time in the winter woods and everywhere I went I found tracks of deer that were moving freely from bedding to feeding areas with little sign of yarding. This means there will be plenty of healthy big bucks available next November.”

That should be incentive enough for hunters to get out there in 2005.

For more information about Maine’s big-buck population, visit
www.state.me.us. For more about the Biggest Bucks In Maine Club or The Maine Sportsman, go to
www.mainesportsman.com on the Web; call (207) 846-9501 or e-mail
harryvanderweide@verizon.net.

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