AUGUSTA, Maine – Deer hunters in Maine harvested 27,233 deer in 2017, the highest total in the last 10 years and an increase of 15 percent from 2016.
“An increasing deer herd in southern and central Maine, and favorable hunting conditions contributed to the best deer hunting season in 10 years,” said Nathan Bieber, MDIFW deer biologist.
Maine’s deer hunt is broken down into several seasons for firearm hunters, muzzleloaders and bowhunters. This year, the season framework stretched from September 9 to December 9. Most deer are harvested during the general firearms season (23,288), which started on October 28 and continued until November 25. Bowhunters took 2,099 deer, and hunters took 970 deer during the muzzleloading season. Maine’s junior hunters were also very successful on youth day, with 876 youth hunters taking a deer this year.
Maine Deer Harvests 2007-17
“Deer hunting is [a] large part of Maine’s cultural heritage. Each year, over 200,000 hunters head into the woods of Maine,” Bieber said. “Hunting also provides many in Maine with a sustainable source of high-quality, organic, free-range protein.”
The deer hunting season allows the department to manage the deer herd and provide wildlife watching and hunting opportunity in much of the state while decreasing the deer population in other areas in order to reduce deer/car collisions and property damage, and prevalence of lyme disease.
Adult bucks by far comprised the vast majority of the harvest, with hunters taking 18,255 antlered bucks. With 66,050 antlerless permits issued, hunters harvested 8,978 antlerless deer.
According to Maine’s deer hunter surveys, on average, deer hunters spent 37 hours hunting deer during the season, averaging 4.3 hours afield each trip.
“Last year’s winter was more moderate in central and southern Maine, while up north, winter was a little more severe on average than years past. The change in the number of any-deer permits reflects that,” Bieber said.
Permit numbers are increasing in nine southern and central wildlife management districts, are decreasing in 11 WMDs, and staying the same in nine WMDS.
The department uses the any-deer permit system to manage the white-tailed deer population in the state. The ability to adjust the state’s deer population derives from the ability to increase, or decrease, the number of breeding does on the landscape. White-tailed deer are at the northern edge of their range in Maine, and winter severity is a limiting factor concerning population growth. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.
Last year, MDIFW wildlife biologists examined over 20 percent of the state’s deer harvest, collecting biological data to monitor deer health throughout the state. In addition to examining registered deer and gathering biological data, lymph nodes were collected in ongoing efforts to monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Maine.
CWD sampling efforts were targeted around towns with active captive cervid facilities, winter feeding operations, and/or high cervid densities. We collected samples from 476 deer, which were sent to the Colorado State University-Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory for testing. All samples tested negative for CWD prions.
Editor’s Note: Press release courtesy of Mark Latti and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.