Biologists are predicting a bountiful firearm season for Maine deer hunters this year, which began November 2. According to the Associated Press, the rise in deer numbers could mean the best season hunters have seen in nearly six years.
“There’s no shortage of enthusiasm, as the hunting conditions are good, and hunting effort is up in central Maine,” Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) biologist Keel Kemper said in a statement.
Kemper’s fellow experts had predicted that hunters would take about 25,000 deer before the season ended on November 30. If hunters do reach that mark, it will be Maine’s most successful season since 2007, when hunters harvested 29,000 animals. The reason for the five-year lull was a series of severe winters that hampered deer survival. As winters grew increasingly milder, deer numbers have begun to rebound and if opening day is any indication, it is a good time to be a hunter in Maine.
“Obviously, it’s still early, but the early returns show a surprisingly good opening day in terms of success,” said DIFW biologist Tom Schaeffer.
For much of Maine, opening day was warmer than hunters would have liked, but it did not seem to have a big effect.
DIFW biologist Bob Cordes says he is encouraged by what he is hearing from local hunters, including the talk that a 276-pound buck was harvested on opening day near Avon.
“People are seeing a lot of deer, and the number of big deer is swinging back up,” Cordes said.
The majority of the estimated 200,000 deer in Maine are located in the south and central regions. Kemper, who works out of the centrally located Region B, said activity is through the roof.
“One cutter said business was terrible, only because he had to turn away deer,” shared Kemper, who added that the processor was in fact working at capacity. “Guys that had five deer at this time last year now have 18 deer in the freezer.”
For sportsmen who have been waiting all year for November, there couldn’t be any better news.
Image courtesy Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife