Deer hunters will be happy to hear that 45,755 of them will get any-deer permits this year, a 60 percent increase over last year’s 28,770 permits. The permit numbers must still be approved by DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council, but that is a sure thing.
Kyle Ravana, DIF&W’s deer biologist, says that “Last year’s winter was more moderate in many areas of the state, and the increase in the number of any deer permits reflect that.”
I applied for a permit last week. Applications for 2016 any-deer permit lottery are online from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Online applications are due by 11:59 P.M. on August 15, 2016. Paper applications may be submitted in person or by mail no later than 5 P.M. on July 29, 2016. To apply online, or print a paper application to mail, visit http://www.mefishwildlife.com/.
This year, any deer permits are proposed for WMDs 7, 12, and 13 which got no permits last year. According to a DIF&W press release, biological data collected as well as field observations by biologists suggest that these WMDs can withstand a light doe harvest. The mild winter provided deer with a lower than average over-winter mortality, as well as increased productivity.
Last year, Maine’s hunters harvested 20,325 deer, 14,907 bucks and 3,615 adult does. For the past 8 years, Maine hunters have been harvesting approximately 20,900 deer annually. That’s less than half of the deer harvest of 41,375 in 1959. And the number of hunters has also decreased substantially in that time. The department estimates that about 160,000 hunters hunt deer these days in Maine.
Nonresident hunter numbers have significantly decreased, due both to the demise of deer in the north country and the fact that there are a lot of great places to hunt deer these days.
Maine hunters were most successful during the regular firearms season for deer last year, which accounted for 82% of the total deer kill. Bowhunters accounted for 10%, youth hunters just over 4.2% and muzzleloaders 3.7% of the total deer kill. Up to half of all any deer permits in each WMD are allocated between Maine landowners who own 25 acres or more (25%) and youth hunters (25%). The remaining permits are then distributed to the remaining hunters who apply for any deer permits. The drawing will be held on September 9, 2016 and results will be posted on the Department’s website.
The 18 wildlife management districts where any-deer (antlerless) permits are proposed are 3, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 29. Firearms hunting for deer begins with Youth Deer Hunting Day on Saturday, October 22, 2016. Youth may take a buck statewide or an antlerless deer only in the wildlife management districts where any-deer permits will be issued this fall.
This year, Maine Residents Only Day is on Saturday, October 29, 2016, and regular firearms season for deer runs October 31 through November 26, 2016. Note: this year, a nonresident who owns 25 or more acres of land in Maine and leaves land open to hunting, holds a valid hunting license, and is not otherwise prohibited by law, may hunt deer on the Resident only day.
The regular archery season begins on September 29 and continues until October 28. The expanded archery season is from September 10- December 10 in specially designated areas. The muzzleloading season is November 28-December 3 in all areas of the state, and continues another week ( December 5-10) in southern and central Maine (WMDs 12, 13, 15-18, 20-26 and 29). For more information, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.