Press Release

November 22, 2013

IFW Hunting Report for November 22, 2013

For Immediate Release November 22, 2013

Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Wildlife Biologists

Region A – Southern Lakes Region

“We are at numbers that we usually have at the end of the season, all our registration stations are up in numbers,” says IFW wildlife biologist Scott Lindsay, who has seen a lot of deer and deer hunters as this deer season continues.

“Everyone has been very positive about the season, and we are getting a lot of favorable comments from hunters,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay added that all the positive comments are not necessarily from successful hunters. Many hunters are seeing deer but being selective.

“We had one hunter who said that in Buckfield over a period of a half dozen days, he saw several deer that he could have taken, but he was waiting for a larger buck to show,” said Lindsay.

And there have been larger bucks showing up as well. Lindsay said they are seeing several deer a week in the 240-pound range, with lots of fat in the hips and the shoulders. He said the big ones have been tagged throughout the region, mentioning towns such as Wells, Waterboro and Hartford as successful locations.

“Deer are going into the winter in very good shape,” said Lindsay.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

In central Maine, hunting conditions remain excellent.

“Things have been robust as far as quantity and quality,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper, who said that numbers continue to be up throughout the region.

As is typical of the third week, Kemper said he saw a drop in the numbers this week. Last week was busy with excellent weather for hunting and the Veterans Day Holiday. Earlier this week, three straight windy days decreased hunter effort and slowed deer movement.

Kemper estimates that he will examine approximately 500 deer this year. While the specific timing of the rut is difficult to pin down, judging by what he is seeing and hearing from hunters, we are coming into the rut if we are not already there.

While things may have slowed down this week, Kemper expects to see a surge in hunters and the number of deer tagged during the Thanksgiving week.

Region C -- Downeast

Downeast, hunters in the coastal district are having a lot of success.

“In WMD 27 along the coast, the number of deer taken is an recent high. Tagging stations are already ahead of last year’s totals with a big week still to go,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

While success in the coastal WMD has been strong, Schaeffer notes that as you head into the Downeast interior, success rates start to drop, and the deer kill in WMDs 28 and 19 is more on par with recent years. Overall, however, numbers are either at the average or above the average of the last five years. There are other positive signs as well.

“The yearling take is quite noticeable,” said Schaeffer, “and we are seeing good numbers of 2 and a half year old deer as well.” Schaeffer said that means there is decent winter survival of last year’s fawn crop which bodes well for the future.

“A good number made it through last winter and through the hunting season as well,” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer has handled a number of deer this year, and has noticed a number of traditional crotch and spike horn bucks for yearlings. All are in decent shape and in condition. He also noted that tooth replacement seems advanced this year, but feels that could be due in part to the later calendar season, which is a week later than most years.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains

Up in Region D, while there may not be the number of deer that are south of there, hunters are certainly bagging some large deer.

“Deer numbers have been steady, and I have seen 10-15 deer that are over 200 pounds,” said IFW wildlife biologist Bob Cordes.

One thing that Cordes did note is that he has been seeing big deer throughout the season.

“They’ve been coming in steady, from youth day right into this week,” said Cordes.

IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey has been traveling through the region, taking biological samples from deer, and he had several observations.”

“Seems like we are seeing a higher percentage of nonresident hunters than we have seen recently,” said Hulsey. He hasn’t been seeing a lot of hunters, but the hunters he has seen have been generally very positive.

“We aren’t getting a lot of complaints, and that tells me the season is going well,” said Hulsey, who noted that when it’s not going well, he tends to hear from quite a few hutners.

Region E – Moosehead Region

Good things are happening up in the Moosehead region, where all the area tagging stations are showing an increase in numbers over the past few years.

“Some tagging stations are up by as much as 20 percent,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. “Kokadjo is up, and it has been like a desert up there the last few years.” Kane thinks that the region hasn’t rebounded all the way back for the harsh winters of ’08 and ’09, but “people are happy because they are seeing deer.”

The big bucks are starting to show up in the harvest as well, as there was one 15-pointer that was shot in the southern part of The County, and it topped out at over 260 pounds.

Kane, who is gathering biological data from a number of harvested deer, is pleased with what he’s seen as far as age structure of the harvest as well.

“The yearling and 2-and-a-half year old numbers are really strong. The two-and-a-half year olds are really showing in the rut,” said Kane who says this bodes well for numbers in the spring.

The rut is in full swing as well. Kane remarked about an interesting observation. He was at the tagging station at Indian Hill last Friday, he handled three bucks, and all three were shot between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. All were out chasing down does in the middle of the morning.

“I have never seen anything so marked as that,” said Kane. “I am hearing a lot of stories about bucks chasing does.” Kane also cautioned hunters not to get confused if the bucks seem to stop moving. He said that when does are in peak estrus, there isn’t much movement, but just before and just after is when you get the peak movement for bucks.

Region F – Penobscot Region

“All our registration stations are way above where they have been the last few years,” remarked IFW wildlife biologist Allen Starr who said that deer totals for the season include over 80 deer registered in Hudson, over 100 in Corinth and the Katahdin General store in Millinocket tagged over 60.

One of the reasons for the many success stories is that the weather has cooperated with hunters.

“All in all it has been pretty good conditions for hunters,” said Starr, who noted that while earlier this week it had been pretty windy, the cold, clear weather boded well for hunters later this week.

Starr said the deer he has seen have all been in very good condition. He saw a nice nine pointer that topped out just under 200 pounds (198.5) that was shot in the Katahdin Iron Works area. Perhaps more interesting was a large yearling Starr checked, that was five points with nice thick antlers.

Starr also sent this picture of a happy hunter who bagged this big buck in the western part of the region, a 230 pound, ten pointer.

Region G – The County

Up in the County, a very successful deer season continues.…

“I would say that deer registrations are up by 75-100% over the last few years,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe who noted that Ben’s in Presque Isle was up over 100% from last year with still a week to go. “Hunter effort is up, and success rates are up.”

Hoppe has examined a number of the harvested deer, and has come away impressed.

“The deer are in excellent shape headed into this year’s winter. What we noted with moose, with the exceptional weight and antler growth, also seems to be reflected in the deer,” said Hoppe.

“The excellent habitat and mild winters have enabled deer to maintain optimal body condition with high fat reserves,” said Hoppe. “This will serve them well going into winter and should translate into higher survival rates.”

Hunting conditions have also been very good as well. During the week of Veterans Day, there was snow on the ground Monday through Wednesday. Hoppe said he saw lots of hunters who took advantage of the excellent conditions to spend some time tracking deer.

If you’ve already tagged out or would rather chase grouse than deer, Hoppe added that there still is some excellent bird hunting in the western part of the region.