Resident adult hunters will get fewer any-deer permits this year

NOTE: take the Sportsmen Say Survey questions about this issue, by clicking on the link to the survey on my website, www.georgesmithmaine.com, after you read this column! I will let the legislature know your opinions.

Many resident adult hunters who got 2013 any-deer permits won’t have one this year. A remarkable change in the deer lottery enacted last year by the Maine legislature allocated 25 percent of the any-deer permits to junior hunters, beginning with the 2014 lottery.

Twenty five percent of the any-deer permits currently go to landowners, 15 percent to nonresidents, and 2.5 percent to Superpack licensees. With the new requirement that 25 percent go to junior hunters, only a third of the permits will be available for resident adult hunters.

deer - junior hunterBecause we don’t yet know how many any-deer permits will be allotted in 2014, I’m using the 2013 number of 46,710 any-deer permits.  Bill Swan, Director of Licensing for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, reports that in 2013 there were 1,482 Superpack applicants, 8,857 landowner applicants, 52,783 resident applicants, 4,348 nonresident applicants, and 6,038 junior applicants (that were not included in the resident and nonresident numbers above).

The permits for nonresidents and Superpack licensees are adjusted in each Wildlife Management District based on specific factors. For example, the 15 percent allocated to nonresidents, “may not exceed the average percentage of applicants for antlerless deer permits over the previous 3 years who were nonresidents or aliens.” And no, aliens from other planets have not been seen hunting in the Maine woods! That term is used to describe our friends who live in other countries.

This is way too complicated for my analysis, so we’ll keep it simple here. I will apply the allocations for Superpack licensees, nonresidents, landowners, and junior hunters to the total number of permits. In all, 67.5 percent of the any-deer permits are now allocated to specific groups.

Applying the 2014 allocations to the 2013 permits, we find that 31,529 of those permits would have gone to Superpack licensees, junior hunters, nonresidents, and landowners, leaving 15,181 for resident adult hunters. In 2013, resident adult hunters actually received 28,026 permits. But some of those went to junior hunters, so it’s not possible to tell you exactly how many resident hunters will lose permits from this new allocation.

Some resident hunters have been complaining about this and demanding that the legislature reconsider and change its decision to direct 25 percent of the permits to junior hunters. I confirmed with the chairs of the IFW Committee, last week, that the committee has no plans to do that.

Now, don’t hang me on these numbers. I know this is not a perfect analysis. But the point remains, adult resident deer hunters will be receiving a lot fewer any-deer permits next year. My hope is that they see the greater goal in allocating half of the permits to landowners and junior hunters.

And remember, despite the fact that DIF&W increased any-deer permits in 2013 by 12,550, and the harvest was significantly higher than the previous year, thirteen of the state’s 29 Wildlife Management Districts still got no permits. Sixty nine percent of the 2013 any-deer permits were in just five WMDs – 15, 17, 20, 21, and 23.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.