An astonishing total of 84,745 any-deer permits will go to deer hunters this year, the highest amount since the permit system was initiated in 1986. This year’s total is a 28% increase over last year and means that nearly half of our deer hunters will be able to shoot does, if they want to.
Deirdre Fleming reported recently that DIFW Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso told the department’s Advisory Council that in all but six of the state’s Wildlife Management Districts the projected doe harvest was not reached last fall. State biologists projected a doe harvest of 7,114 in 2017 but the actual reported doe harvest was only 5,950.
This is the first issuance of permits since the department adopted a new deer management plan. One of the goals in the new plan is to reduce deer numbers in the southern half of the state.
You are probably aware that there are two Maines now. The deer herd in northern Maine is greatly diminished. Any-deer permits in that area either stayed the same or were reduced.
Between the mid-1950’s and early 1960’s, Maine’s deer population was estimated to be 250,000, and 35,000 to 40,000 deer were killed each year. During the 1960’s, the deer herd was estimated at only 141,000. But in the 80’s and 90’s, the herd grew to an all-time high of 331,000.
Maine sporting camp owners told me their biggest challenge is the loss of hunters and anglers. There are lots of great places to hunt deer in North America, and Maine is not on that list anymore.
In 2016, the top five states for buck harvests were Texas (399,487), Michigan (196,233), Wisconsin (156,920), Pennsylvania (149,460) and Georgia (134,456).
Doe harvests were highest in Texas (322,557), Alabama (191,555), Pennsylvania, Georgis, and Wisconsin.
In 2015, Maine hunters killed 14,906 bucks and 3615 adult does. The total harvest was 20,325 and 73% were bucks.
Clearly, DIFW is greatly challenged to increase the doe harvest, and Maine’s outdoor industry will continue to struggle to attract deer hunters to Maine.