The 2012 deer season ended with a total harvest of 21,365 deer, representing an increase of 13% over the 2011 harvest of 18,839. Increases in the harvest were seen in all wildlife management districts. The highlight of the 2012 season, and testament to the recovering deer numbers, was the jump in the overall harvest of bucks between 2011 and 2012. A total of 15,271 adult bucks were harvested in Maine this past season, representing an increase of 2,473 deer over the 2011 season (i.e., 19% increase). Indeed, the overall buck harvest increased within all 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs), including WMD 3, which experienced an overall buck harvest of 203 animals, the highest level of harvest seen in that District since 1963.
Governor Paul R. LePage commended MDIFW on its management of the deer population and the results. “Maine has a long tradition of hunting, and I am pleased at the growth of the deer herd,” he said. “Hunting offers residents and visitors alike an opportunity to participate in one of Maine’s time-honored traditions, as well as the chance to enjoy our state’s natural resources.”
There was an increase in the Expanded Archery Zone harvest in 2012. Youth hunters also saw an increase in their overall harvest. Despite a soggy opening day, Maine’s youth harvested a total of 567 deer, representing a 5% increase over the 2011 season. Their harvest consisted of a total of 226 adult bucks, 223 adult does, and 118 fawns. Youth hunters were allowed to harvest antlerless deer without needing an Any-deer Permit in WMDs where permits were issued.
A strategic allocation of Any-deer Permits allowed the Department to control deer population growth while balancing the number of bucks and does on the landscape. Because of the exceedingly moderate winter and the 2011 decrease in Any-Deer-Permits, MDIFW determined that an increase in the number of permits in 2012 was appropriate for specific WMDs. The 2012 permit allocation resulted in a slight increase in the harvest of adult does (6% over the 2011 season), and overall population growth. Conversely, the fawn harvest dropped by approximately 8% across WMDs.
On the heels of another winter that didn’t significantly stress the deer population, the state should expect to once again see an increase in Maine’s deer population for the 2013 season. As in years past, Maine will continue to offer numerous opportunities for hunters whether they choose to use a rifle, bow, or muzzleloader, in their pursuits. With this in mind, Maine hunters should look forward to increasing opportunities for tagging one of the state’s whitetail deer in 2013.
Image courtesy MAINE DEPARTMENT OF INLAND FISHERIES & WILDLIFE