October 29, 2015

Deer Season Starts Saturday For Residents, Monday For Nonresidents

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s firearm deer season begins this Saturday. Even with last year’s long winter, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists are expecting that the 2015 deer will be a successful one for many hunters. The tradition of deer hunting in Maine continues to increase in popularity. Resident hunting license sales have increased each year since 2005 and non-resident licenses sales have also increased each of the past three years.

Last year, there were 224,039 licensed hunters in the state, and it is estimated that more than 160,000 hunt deer in Maine. Hunting is how the Department manages the deer population, and according to a recent economic survey by Southwick Associates, hunting in Maine contributes more than $338 million ($338,730,639) annually to Maine’s economy. Deer hunting alone contributes more than $100 million ($101,419,052). The full study can be found here at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/pdfs/MEHuntEconomics%20Final%20Report%2010-06-2014.pdf.

“While last year’s winter certainly stretched into spring, December and much of January was relatively snow-free, which lessened winter’s impact on Maine’s deer herd,” said IFW’s deer biologist Kyle Ravana. The lack of snow early in the winter allowed deer to feed and conserve energy, lessening some of the effects of the long winter.

White-tailed deer in Maine are near the northern edge of their population range, and winter can impact deer survival. Maine’s deer population has rebounded from the severe winters of 2008 and 2009, which now stands at approximately 210,000, up from approximately 146,000 after the 2009 winter. Deer are more abundant in southern, central and coastal Maine than in northern, western and downeast Maine.

Maine’s wildlife biologists monitor winter severity throughout the state from December through April to determine the impact that winter weather has on deer survival. The 2014-15 deer season was above average in its severity throughout nearly the entire state. In order to offset the effects of the winter, IFW biologists opted to act conservatively and decreased the amount of Any-Deer permits available to hunters this year.

IFW closely regulates the harvest of does, which is how biologists can increase or decrease deer numbers within our Wildlife Management Districts. This year, 28,770 Any-Deer permits were issued, compared to 37,185 last year. The reduction in Any-Deer permits will result in more breeding female deer remaining in the population, allowing the population to rebound more quickly.

Each year Maine’s biologists examine thousands of deer for disease, analyze deer teeth to determine age structure of the harvest, monitor antler beam diameters and weights, from yearling bucks, conduct hunter surveys to determine hunter effort and deer sighting rates, and even examine road-killed deer to look at productivity and breeding success.

Together the information gives department biologists a clearer picture of the health and size of Maine’s deer population. For example, antler beam diameter can determine the nutritional status of the animals, and where the population is in relation to the habitat’s ability to sustain it.

“Generally what we see is that the deer look to be healthy,” said Ravana. “Our average yearling weight in Maine is over 119 pounds, and that is above average when compared to other New England states.”

Last year, hunters harvested 22,490 deer. 15,986 of those deer were bucks, and 6,504 were antlerless deer. Maine’s firearm season for deer continues to be the most popular, with 18,510 deer harvested by hunters in 2014. Maine’s archery season accounted for 2,086 deer, muzzleloaders took 1,064 deer, and on youth day, 810 young hunters were successful.

Maine’s deer season is divided into several different seasons. The firearms season for deer opens on Saturday, October 31 for residents and Monday, November 2 for nonresidents. The firearm season for deer concludes on November 28. Muzzleloading season begins on November 30 and runs for one week in northern and eastern Maine and for two weeks in southern and central Maine. The regular archery season extends from October 1-October 30, with an expanded archery season open in select areas from September 12 to December 12. For more information on deer season and all hunting regulations, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com.