Jane Seekins says she doesn’t know how many more years she’ll deer hunt. Health concerns have begun to crop up more regularly, and the 73-year-old from Orland sometimes struggled to get into the woods this year.
Chances are good that she’ll continue to find a way to hunt a bit … and when she does, she’ll likely have plenty of success in the years to come.
Seekins reported that this year she shot the biggest deer of her life, topping the 205-pounder that she shot 15 years ago. And she estimates that over the years, she has harvested more than 20 deer.
More on Seekins’ latest success story in a minute. First, consider this: Just five years after brutal winter weather devastated the state’s deer herd over back-to-back years, that herd is thriving again.
In the most recent hunting report compiled by Mark Latti of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, biologists reported a high harvest of deer this fall. Among those deer were plenty that topped the 200-pound mark, field-dressed. Many tagging stations are reporting 25 percent (or more) increases over last year alone.
The most eye-popping total may have come from Gateway Variety in Ashland, a tagging station that stayed busy throughout the season, according to DIF&W biologist Amanda DeMusz.
In all, Gateway Variety tagged more than 230 deer during the firearms season. Among those, 40 deer weighed in at more than 200 pounds.
Now, back to Seekins.
In a letter to the BDN (yes, an actual letter … not an email), Seekins said that she faced some challenges during the recently completed firearms season on deer, but managed to bag the buck of a lifetime.
“The deer population in the area that I have hunted for the past 50 or so years has seemed to decline a bit each year, and to make matters worse, my odds of getting my deer this season were even more difficult for a bunch of reasons,” Seekins wrote.
Seekins said fewer any-deer permits were allotted in her zone, and she didn’t receive one. That meant she was hunting for bucks for the whole season.
And physically, she faced other challenges.
“I am 73 years old now and feeling a bit older as every day goes by,” she wrote. “I have arthritis and to make matters more difficult for this season, I had complete knee replacement on both knees earlier this spring. My mobility is limited and I feared this may be the last year I would be able to hunt.”
While hunting on Veteran’s Day, Seekins finally had an opportunity to shoot a buck, and she took advantage.
“Somehow luck was with me and I bagged by far the biggest buck I have ever shot,” she wrote. “It weighed in at 240 pounds (estimated live weight, 288 pounds) with a rack of 11 points. To make the day even more exciting, the buck came out of the woods following a doe into the field that is a very special place for me and where I have hunted for years.”
Even after 50 or more years afield, Seekins admitted that she felt her heart pumping when the big buck showed up.
After shooting the deer just before the end of legal shooting hours, she went to pick up her husband, who was hunting three miles away.
“We found the blood trail quickly and soon came upon the buck about 150 feet from the edge of the field,” she wrote. “My husband said, ‘You shot a monster!’”
At the weighing station, Seekins was happy to see the scale tip to 240 pounds.
“I have been a very dedicated deer hunter and have had luck over the years,” she wrote.
One of those bucks, shot in 1998, weighed 205 pounds. Another tipped the scales at 190 pounds.
“As a now 73-year-old woman hunter, I can say that I have had my share of doubters over the years, but it doesn’t matter to me,” Seekins wrote. “I say, ‘I did it, I’m still doing it.’ Keep going lady hunters. You can do it too!”
Oh … one more thing.
“P.S.,” Seekins added. “I’ve shot two moose, too.”
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