SEBAGO — It was still pitch black when Anna Scamman, 13, headed out with her mother, Nichelle Scamman, into the woods behind their house in Standish to go deer hunting Saturday morning.
The two found the spot they had earlier scouted out and settled in to await the stroke of 6:35 a.m., the legal opening of Youth Deer Hunting Day in Maine. Just 27 minutes later Anna had bagged her first deer, a five-point, 140-pound buck. By 9 a.m. she was registering the deer at the tagging station at Jordan’s Store on Sebago Road.
“I was shaking. I was so excited and nervous that I would miss,” said Anna.
Anna and hundreds of other children were taking part in what has become a rite of passage for Maine hunting families since youth deer day was created 12 years ago.
The day is reserved for hunters ages 10 through 15. They must be accompanied by an unarmed parent or guardian. The regular firearms deer season starts Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 30 for adult and youth hunters alike.
Like many of the youths stalking the woods Saturday, Anna had previous hunting experience. This was her third year out, and the first one in which she was successful. She has also bagged two trophy turkeys.
Dressed in blaze orange and petite, Anna said at first she thought she had missed, because the bullet also hit a tree. The deer managed to get up but then fell back to the ground dead, she said.
She and her mother had to get help from Anna’s stepfather, Shawn Estabrook of Standish, to haul the deer out of the woods.
Within minutes, Anna had posted the news of her hunting success on Facebook.
Parents say Youth Deer Hunting Day provides a way to bond with their children.
Joe Kenney of Standish said he had stopped deer hunting at one point. Then his son, Joseph, now 14, turned 10 and they headed into the woods. Joseph, who has shot one deer since then, said he learns a lot when he is out hunting with his father, such as having to deal with disappointment.
“Some things don’t always come through, ” Joseph said.
Only about 10 percent of the youth hunters will wind up with a deer by the end of the season, according to Bob Humphrey, a Registered Maine Guide who writes a hunting column for the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Last year 567 deer were shot on youth deer day, 2.6 percent of the 21,365 deer tagged in 2012, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reported.
Despite the tough odds, Jordan Day, 10, of Westbrook managed to bag a deer Saturday within minutes of setting out on his first day as a youth hunter. Jordan said it was hard getting to sleep the night before, but not quite as hard as on Christmas Eve.
Jordan said he had been walking with his stepfather, James Tucker of Westbrook, for about 10 minutes in the woods in Standish when they spotted the six-point, 140-pound buck.
“It was weird. I was surprised,” said Jordan, adding his mother was equally taken aback.
His uncle, Jason Hebert of Baldwin, on hand for the weigh-in at Jordan’s Store, said he also bagged a deer the first time he went out as a boy and instantly developed a life-long passion for deer hunting.
“That’s all it takes,” said Hebert.
Beth Quimby can be reached at 791-6363 at: firstname.lastname@example.org