Press Release

December 6, 2013

IFW Hunting Report for December 6, 2013

For Immediate Release December 6, 2013

IFW Hunting Report for December 6, 2013 Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Wildlife Biologists

Region A – Southern Lakes Region

Region A wildlife staff has been busy throughout York, Cumberland and Oxford counties collecting scientific samples from harvested deer.

“The number of deer harvested is certainly higher than it has been in recent years,” says IFW Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay, “We are seeing good representation of multiple age classes throughout. Our staff has seen more deer this season than we have seen in a while.”

Lindsay noted that overall the health of the deer he has seen is excellent.

“I have seen fawns that are near 70 pounds, and a good percentage of bucks in the 230 pound class,” said Lindsay, who noted that deer winter survival has been good, remarking about several does who were so old, their teeth were practically worn down.

The two-week muzzleloading season has started and Lindsay said that he hasn’t seen a great number of muzzleloaders, but with the two-week season, there is still plenty of time to get out there.

Pheasant season is ongoing, and one club in Wells has one more release of 100 birds planned at the Bragdon Pit site. For more information on the release, please visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm.

Grouse season is still ongoing, and Lindsay noted that harvested grouse have a lot of winterberry in their gizzard. Look for those bright red berries on an otherwise drab background and you should have some luck finding grouse.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

After a hectic first three weeks of the deer season, unsettled weather calmed things down in Region B.

“The last week of the season, the numbers just seemed to fall off the table,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Keel Kemper. “We got all that rain, the wind, and then it froze. It was like walking on potato chips in the wood.”

With that type of weather, it was no wonder the numbers went down.

“Effort was way down last week. Effort drives success, so when effort is down, so is success. Still, numbers for this season will be up. I thought it was going to be way up, but the last week slowed things down.” With the wild weather the last week of the firearm season, many hunters who were waiting to “cash in” their Any Deer permits were unsuccessful, but now look towards the muzzleloading season as one last chance.

“There appears to be a fairly strong muzzleloading contingent as we are seeing a larger muzzleloading harvest,” said Kemper, who added that he as seen some really big bucks at the meat cutters since the muzzleloading season began.

Region C -- Downeast

Unsettled weather last week impacted deer hunters Downeast.

“The good hunting conditions we had didn’t hold through the last week, and that tempered effort and success,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Tom Schaeffer. “Last week presented its challenges, but overall, things look encouraging.”

However, Schaeffer noted that the deer harvest is certainly up in the coastal part of Washington County.

Attention now turns to muzzleloading, and other game pursuits. Much of the Downeast region has one week of muzzleloading season, but grouse season continues through December and the coastal and southern waterfowl zones are still open for duck hunting.

“Typically, the trend is that hunters turn to waterfowl. Ponds are skimming over and there is some good late season duck hunting in Washington and Hancock County,” said Schaeffer. “If you like grouse hunting, many woods roads remain open, and typically there’s not a lot of snow this time of year so there is pretty good access.”

Region D – Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains

In Region D, the early numbers point to a successful deer season.

“The Rumford tagging station, our biggest tagging station, keeps meticulous records, and they are up a lot from last year, probably a 25% increase,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey.

“Hunting conditions for the season were pretty good for not having snow,” said Hulsey, “and throughout the season, I never got a complaint about the deer season, which is unusual.”

It’s now muzzleloading season in Region D. The season in the northern part of the region is for one week, but muzzleloaders get two weeks in 12, 13, 16 and 17.

Waterfowl season is now over as well in Region D. One hunter had an interesting observation on the season, which was not as productive as it usually is for him. This hunter walks into different areas, hunting small waterholes. He had a “terrible” year, because a lot of the areas that he hiked into were completely dry due to the lack of rain. Grouse hunting continues through the end of the month, and hunters might get a shot at some well-educated grouse by driving the many logging roads in the area.

Region E – Moosehead Region

“Deer season in the Moosehead region ended up about where we expected,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. “Most of the stations were at or above where they were last year.”

In fact, Kane said that most of the stations were up about 25%, and only one tagging station in the area was the same as last year.

“The yearling and two and a half year olds showed up very strong in the harvest,” said Kane, which showed both good winter survival and reproductive rates. “That bodes very well for the future.”

Kane noted that there were a number of bucks that were taken over 200 pounds, but maybe a little less than what may expect since those age classes were hit hard by the bad winters in 2008 and 2009. Still, things look good for the years ahead.

“There are a lot of happy hunters this year,” said Kane. “There was a lot of deer activity and a lot of deer sightings. All those signs point to a very good future.”

Kane did note that he expected to see more bear harvested during the deer firearm season, but that did not materialize.

“There was a very strong beech nut crop this season, and I thought that we would see more bears taken,” said Kane, “but even with the strong food year, it looks as though most bears denned up early.”

Region F – Penobscot Region

“We had some great tracking snow on Monday, and we are already seeing some muzzleloaders getting deer,” said IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron. In the Enfield area and parts of Washington County, there was five inches of snow. “That was the day to go muzzleloading.” Throughout the region, every deer tagging station showed an increase in numbers.

“Everybody was up. In Shin Pond, they registered a little over a hundred deer, and there were similar stories elsewhere. They even ran out of tagging books in some regions,” said Caron.

“It was a good year, people were seeing deer and taking deer, and the good weather carried through the season,” said Caron.

Caron said there were a lot of nice deer in the 180-200 pound range, although he didn’t see many over 250 pounds. He did note a lot of yearlings and two and a half year olds in the harvest.

“Most hunters weren’t waiting. They were shooting if they saw a deer,” said Caron. “Over the past few years, I think many hunters have gotten into the habit of shooting when they see one.”

Grouse hunters are still out. While some of the roads may not be great, bird hunters can still be seen walking the woods roads.

“Some hunters who tagged out early on deer still go out and hunt. While the roads are starting to get a little worse, hunters are still getting out and walking,” said Caron.

Region G – The County

Up in the County, it’s been a good deer season.

“The deer harvest looks to be up about 20% in our area. Individual tagging stations are up between 10 and 50% for the season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Amanda DeMusz, who noted that the Gateway in Ashland had registered over 230 deer for the season.

Deer weights have been strong, with several over 200 pounds, but many in the 150 pound range and above. “Everyone seems to be talking about the deer being bigger and heavier,” said Demusz. The Gateway had 40 deer registered over 200 pounds.

Bird hunters are still seeing birds, but grouse hunters may want to look up when they are looking for birds.

“The grouse are spending a lot of time in trees with the cold weather,” said DeMusz. “Particularly in spruce and fir trees.”

Coverts that were productive in the early fall might not be as productive now, as the conifers provide some degree of shelter for the birds. Once the snow gets deeper, they will be on the ground more often.

Snowshoe hare are also become more visible, or invisible, depending on the amount of snow. Hare are losing their summer colors and are turning white, but most right now have a mottled look to them. Snowshoe hare season runs through the end of March.