WINTHROP — Ken Smith was all smiles Saturday afternoon as he pulled his truck into the parking lot of Audette’s Hardware Store with a 199-pound, nine-point buck in the back.

“I’m very happy,” said Smith, 74, even after finding out that his prize deer was just short of the 200 pound mark. At 1 p.m., it was the biggest deer employees at the hardware store had seen Saturday — the first day of hunting season for Maine residents — and they happily helped Smith tag it.

Across the state, many Maine residents got a start on the deer hunting season Saturday. Not all were as lucky as Smith, but many said they were still excited to get a good day of hunting in despite some cold, rainy weather. The regular firearms season for both residents and nonresidents starts Monday and runs through Nov. 26.

Sheridan Doyle, of Winthrop, said he and his daughter got up early to go hunting but didn’t see any deer Saturday morning. He planned to go back out later in the day and said the rainy weather actually was good for hunting. “It’s nice and quiet,” he said. “I like this kind of day. I know (the deer) are out there. You just have to catch ’em coming through.”

Matthew Carter and his wife, Roxanne, of Winthrop, got a smaller buck, of about 140 pounds, Saturday and said they’re looking forward to getting another one later in the season.

“I would have liked a bigger one, but you don’t pass up the horns,” said Matthew Carter, 28, who said his deer was three points.

“It’s good meat for the freezer,” said Roxanne Carter, 27.

More than a dozen people tagged deer Saturday at Audette’s, a number that employee Lee Robinson said is “pretty average” for the first day of hunting season. Last year, a total of 106 deer were tagged at the store during deer hunting season.

Eight-year-old Blake Gemelli, of Livermore, got his first deer ever after waking up around 5 a.m. with his father, Eric Gemelli. Blake said it was hard to wake up early, especially since he had a sore back, and he fell asleep for a period of time once the two got into the woods and had staked out a spot to look for deer.

They waited about three hours before spotting one. “My toes were freezing,” Blake said. “I could barely feel them.”

The Gemellis also went hunting on Youth Hunting Day, which was Oct. 22 this year, but didn’t have any luck. On Saturday, Eric Gemelli said his son was shaking with excitement after getting the doe on his first shot.

It wasn’t 200 pounds, but like Smith, the Gemellis were all smiles.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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