Deer permits and youth hunting opportunities expanded

 

A remarkable change in the deer lottery and hunt was enacted this year by the Maine legislature, but it won’t until 2014. It will allocate 25 percent of the any-deer permits to Junior hunters.

Currently 25 percent of the any-deer permits go to landowners and 15 percent to nonresidents. With the new requirement that 25 percent go to junior hunters, only 35 percent of the permits will be available for resident adult hunters.

I took a look at the 2011 lottery, to see what kind of impact this change in the lottery will have. In 2011, any-deer applications totaled 72,485: 1963 from Super Pack licensees, 8558 from landowners, 4235 from nonresidents, and 57,729 from residents. Super Pack licensees won 232 permits, landowners 5,194 permits, nonresidents 1226 permits, and residents (which included junior hunters) got 19,783 permits (84 percent of the permits).

I believe about 5,000 Junior hunters apply for any-deer permits. So let’s subtract them from the 57,729 resident applicants, giving us 52,729. Under the new scenario, with the additional allocation of 25 percent of the any-deer permits going to Junior hunters, leaving 35 percent to resident adults, those 52,729 resident adults would have only gotten 5,847 permits, a far cry from the 19,783 they actually received. This could be a problem.

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.

DIF&W did increase any-deer permits this year, a reflection of the growing deer herd in southern Maine. A total of 46,710 permits (12,550 more than 2012) will be awarded with the winners names posted on DIF&W’s website on September 9. Thirteen of the state’s 29 Wildlife Management Districts still get no permits, and most interesting to me, the number of permits in my southern Maine WMD 16 decreased slightly from 2,880 to 2,855. Sixty nine percent of the any-deer permits are in just five WMDs – 15, 17, 20, 21, and 23.

A total of 21,365 deer were harvested in 2012, 10.7 percent of the state’s estimated herd of 200,000 deer. 15,271 of them were adult bucks. Junior hunters killed 567 deer on Youth Day: 226 adult bucks, 223 adult does, and 118 fawns.

Good luck in this year’s lottery!

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.