Maine’s 2011 deer season resulted in a total harvest of 18,839 deer by resident and non-resident hunters. Although the winter of 2010-2011 was tough, especially mid-winter, snow disappeared rapidly and deer benefited from spring rains and a relatively early spring green up. Overwinter survival of fawns increased, giving a boost to yearlings available during the fall hunting season. Increased success by archers and youth hunters alike continues to demonstrate the allure of bowhunting, and the interest of young hunters in pursuing one ofNorth America’s most exciting game species.
The change in last fall’s deer harvest by -6% compared to 2010 can be accounted for by the significant decrease in Any Deer Permits, designed to provide additional growth in the deer population across much of the state.
The Any-Deer Permit System allows IFW’s wildlife biologists to regulate the taking of antlerless deer. Since adult females are the most important element of the population from a reproductive standpoint, the 2011 decrease in Any-Deer permits will help ensure continued population growth for 2012 and beyond. The protection of antlerless deer resulted in a 23% decline in adult doe harvest and a 25% decrease in the fawn harvest. The adult buck harvest increased by 5% in 2011 compared to 2010. Combined with the mild winter of 2012 (to date), a higher rate of doe survival should be great news toMainedeer hunters and enthusiasts.
Other positive notes on the 2011 harvest include a 21% increase in the Youth Day harvest. Youth-hunters were allowed to take deer of either sex in Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) where Any-deer Permits were allocated for the regular rifle season. With a good stretch of fall weather, Youth-hunters capitalized on a great day. Archers also had a 29% increase in harvest during the Expanded and October seasons. Marsh Island, in the Orono / OldTownarea, was opened to Expanded Archery for the 1st time; providing an important management tool for controlling deer numbers in a fairly urban setting where firearms are restricted. Archery hunting across the state continues to be both an excellent management tool in urban areas, as well as a great opportunity to test skill and knowledge against the superb senses ofMaine’s white-tailed deer.
In much of the state, deer will be coming out of the 2011-12 winter in great shape. With warm weather on the horizon, the outlook for deer hunting in 2012 should be exceptional. Come Fall 2012, there will continue to be a variety of seasons to choose from, lots of room to roam and a diverse array of locations to hunt. We should expect both an increase in deer numbers and harvest for 2012 providing a great opportunity to hunt deer inMaine.