New deer hunters have amazing success.

Thanks to a new mentoring program launched by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, an astonishing 7 of 9 new hunters shot a deer on Swan Island in the Kennebec River.

The new program spends time teaching new deer hunters how to hunt deer, and DIFW hopes to expand the program to recruit lots of new hunters. As you probably know the number deer hunters in Maine has significantly declined, from 181,900 in 1993 to 131,400 in 2017.

Swan Island is a DIFW wildlife management area that has been closed to hunting for more than 50 years. And yes, they have quite a few deer on the island. So it’s a perfect place to introduce new hunters to the sport.

I’ve been on Swan’s Island which is a beautiful place with large fields and beautiful woods. And they have groups of as many as 50 deer.

The department created blinds for the new hunters and even marked with blue ribbons the trees that were 100 yards away to help the new hunters judge the appropriate shooting distance.

For their first mentoring program they had 20 applicants and chose nine between the ages of 19 and 45. The program was free. But before they were boated over to Swan’s island for their first hunt, they took three workshops to learn hunting skills and they were required to demonstrate proficiency with a hunting rifle at the firing range in Gardiner.

DIFW is also hoping that sportsman’s clubs and land trusts will also launch deer hunting mentoring programs. I think this is a really great idea and initiative.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.