Despite a rainy and windy opening day to the deer season, hunters fared a little better than expected last year during the deer season, with 29,918 deer killed. The number is slightly above the 29,400 preseason prediction, and also above the 20 year average of 28,700.
"While the season may have started a little wet, I am pleased to see that so many hunters persisted and were rewarded with success this past season," stated Martin. "I am also thrilled to see that so many young hunters were successful on youth day. Passing along a tradition such as deer hunting is a wonderful way to teach a young hunter values such as conservation, responsibility and ethics."
Maine's deer season stretches from September through December, and is broken into several segments that includes the Regular Firearms Season, the October Archery Season, the Expanded Archery Season, the muzzleloading season and youth deer hunting day. The total deer kill for each of the past ten deer seasons is as follows: 2006 - 29,918; 2005 - 28,148; 2004 - 30,926; 2003 - 30,313; 2002 -- 38,153; 2001 -- 27,769; 2000 - 36,885; 1999 - 31,473; 1998 - 28,241; 1997 - 31,152; 1996 - 28,375; 1995 - 27,384.
Youth hunters had their best day ever, as 1,216 young hunters were successful that day, nearly twice the total of last year's 672 successful hunters. Bowhunters and muzzleloaders also found more success this year compared to last. 2,494 deer were taken during the expanded and October archery seasons. Muzzleloaders took 1,307 deer, up from the 994 last year.
More deer were killed in Penobscot county (3,509) than in any other county this past year. Other counties where more than 2,000 deer were killed include Somerset (3,472), Kennebec (2,920), Cumberland (2,677), York (2,580), and Oxford (2,240).
Hunters this year killed 16,081 adult bucks, and 13,798 antlerless deer. The antleress kill of 13,798 was very close to the predicted antlerless kill of 13,510. This year, the department issued 67,725 Any Deer permits. An Any Deer permit allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex. By controlling the number of female deer in a population, the department can manage deer population trends. Any Deer permits are issued through a lottery system.
Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Biologists have been monitoring the effects of this year's winter on the deer population through weekly checks at weather collecting stations at 28 locations throughout the state. Each week, biologists visit these stations to record data. The data is compiled and compared to past years to determine the severity of the winter and what its impacts are on the deer population in different areas of the state. This data is used in determining how many any-deer permits will be issued for next year. IFW wildlife biologists will be meeting in the next few weeks to determine the number of any deer permits that will be available for next year.
Overall 71% of the deer registered were by residents. Estimates of success vary, with resident (including landowner) any-deer permit holders having a 26.8% success rate overall versus 22% for non-resident hunters. In general, buck hunters without an any-deer permit harvested bucks at an estimated 10-12% success rate.
Maine's statewide post-hunt population was estimated at 218,700 deer or 7.6 deer / mi2 during 2006. For 2007, deer population management will continue to focus on increasing the number of deer in the northern and downeast regions. And with a relatively moderate 06'-07', winter doe harvests will likely continue at similar levels in order to stabilize deer populations and maintain our short-term population objectives within most central and southern WMDs.