Maine is challenged to recruit deer hunters, even with bigger harvest

While we’ll harvest the largest number of deer since 2004, Maine is still challenged to recruit deer hunters, particularly nonresidents.

I was very pleased this year that my son Josh, who lives in Massachusetts, came up to hunt, something he hasn’t had time to do for many years, and he got a nice 4-point buck Thanksgiving morning.

DIF&W can now tell us, quickly, how many deer are being harvested, thanks to the new equipment at each registration station. For comparison, they still are not sure how many deer were taken last year.

A total of 30,299 were taken by the end of the regular firearms season. And the department expects about 1500 to be taken by muzzle-loaders.

We haven’t taken more than 30,000 deer since 2004, when 30,926 were harvested. In 2017 we took 27,233 deer. In 2009 we took 38,153 deer.

So, you can see, even though DIF&W sharply increased doe permits to 84,745, a 28 percent increase, we’re still not harvesting that many deer.

I’ve asked DIF&W how many of the harvested deer were bucks and how many were does, but I have not yet received that information. So, I’ll probably wait and write a final column on the deer harvest after the muzzleloading season ends.

They did tell me their doe quota this year was 8,759, and their projected buck harvest was 16,850. Deer biologist Nathan Bieber said, “We typically take just under half the number of fawns as does, so we’d expect 4,000 or so fawns if our doe harvest was 8,759.”

Good luck if you are still out there deer hunting. The muzzleloading season became my favorite, mostly because there were so few hunters that I had the woods to myself.



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,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.