The 25-day regular deer hunting season for firearms opens for Maine residents on Saturday, Oct. 30, and for non-residents Monday, Nov. 1.

Hunters must have a valid hunting license and, if selected in the lottery, an any-deer permit.

This fall, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is issuing 48,825 any-deer (Antlerless) permits — a 7.5 percent increase over last year’s number, or 3,340 more permits. They range from 490 permits in Wildlife Management District 13 to 7,800 in WMD 23. No permits will be allocated in WMDs 1-11, 14, 18, 19, 27 and 28.

Availability of any-deer permits among Maine’s 29 WMDs is directly related to the department’s deer management objectives. Very conservative doe harvests are required in eastern and northern WMDs where the department is trying to increase deer densities. In contrast, does must be more heavily harvested in WMDs where current objectives are to stabilize deer populations to the 15 or 20 deer per square mile. Abundance targets were set following input from a public working group whose task was to formulate Maine’s deer management goals.

The allocation of 48,825 any-deer permits, along with the archery and youth seasons, should result in the statewide harvest of roughly 5,922 does and an additional 2,982 fawns in 2010. Antlered buck harvests should approximate 12,015, which is about a five percent increase from the 2009 buck kill of 11,460. The impact of two tough winters in 2008 and 2009 on deer survival is still being felt, however, the department expects to see positive gains after the recent mild winter. If normal hunting conditions and hunter effort take place the statewide deer harvest in Maine should be in the vicinity of 20,919 deer.

The permit allocation is: 32,907 for residents; 12,208 for landowners; 2,649 for non-residents; and 1,061 for Superpack holders. Superpack and landowners must meet certain requirements. See the department’s website for more information.

The regular firearms season ends Saturday, Nov. 27.

The muzzleloader season will begin in all WMDs on Monday, Nov. 29, but will end on Saturday, Dec. 4 in WMDs 1-11, 14, 19, 27 and 28. Elsewhere, the muzzleloading season will continue until Saturday, Dec. 11. Crossbow archery season will coincide with modern firearms.

Read, carry law book

Hunters are reminded to read and carry their appropriate law books. The law books are available at any of the department’s 840 licensing agents statewide and at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife offices. For more information, call 287-8000.

Write down any-deer permit number

MDIF&W no longer mails any-deer permits to permit winners. Instead, permit winners need to record their permit number and report the permit number to the registration station when tagging their deer. The department suggests that permit winners write down their permit number and keep the number with their hunting license so it is readily available when needed at the registration station. Hunters can find their any-deer permit number by visiting

Make deer hunt safe

The department offers the following safety tips:

• Be sure someone knows where you are headed, and when you plan to return. Leave a map and itinerary.

• If carrying a cell phone, be sure the batteries are charged and bring a spare.

• Carry emergency survival gear, a flashlight, extra batteries, map and compass, matches, water and snacks.

• Stop periodically to eat and rehydrate.

• Wear two pieces of hunter orange that are in good condition.

• Be sure of your target, and what is beyond it.

• Always keep the muzzle of your firearm pointed in a safe direction.

• Unload your firearm before entering a dwelling, before entering a vehicle, or before storing it.

Hunting big business

Approximately 204,000 people hunt in Maine each year, and those hunters generate more than $241 million in economic activity in Maine. Approximately 83 percent of the hunters are Maine residents.

Each hunter spends an average of $1,359 in equipment, licenses, memberships and trip-related expenses, and spends approximately 13 days engaging in the sport, according to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, the most recent information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The economic impact from hunting season is tremendous, supporting thousands of jobs and bringing millions in state sales and income tax revenue.

Deer hunting and EEE

The greatest Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) risk facing hunters is exposure to mosquitoes, not handling or consuming healthy deer. Although other mammals and birds have been exposed to the EEE virus for decades, there is no evidence that direct contact with these species can infect humans. While human infection is rare, hunters should take precautions against EEE by using insect repellents for personal protection from bites until mosquitoes are no longer active and using protective clothing.

Hunters in interior and coastal York County, coastal Cumberland County, Kennebec, Waldo and Penobscot Counties should:

• Not handle or consume wild animals that appear sick or act abnormally, regardless of the cause. All other deer meat should be cooked thoroughly (170-180 degrees) to kill the EEE virus, should it be present, as well as any other viruses and bacteria.

• Wear heavy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing deer.

• Handle knives carefully to prevent accidental cuts.

• Minimize contact with brain or spinal tissues. Do not cut into the head of any deer that behaved abnormally even to remove the rack. When removing antlers from healthy deer, use a hand saw rather than a power saw, and always wear safety glasses.

• Bone out the carcass, keeping both the head and spine intact.

• Wash hands with soap and water after handling carcasses and before and after handling meat.

• Thoroughly sanitize equipment and work surfaces used during processing with bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon water). Consider keeping a separate set of knives used only for butchering deer.

• Freezing meat will not kill the EEE virus.

• While dogs have been reported to have been infected with EEE in a small number of cases, they are not a primary species of concern; transmission of EEE is primarily by mosquito bite. While it would be possible for a dog to contract EEE when retrieving an infected bird, for example, the dog would have to have a cut in its mouth and come into to contact with the bird’s blood.

• The appearance of EEE in Maine horses this summer prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maine Medical Center, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a study during the deer hunting season to better understand the distribution of the EEE virus in Maine. Harvested deer will be examined for the presence of EEE by testing their blood for antibodies specific for this virus. Deer are widespread in the state, are susceptible to infection with the EEE virus, and should be a good sentinel of EEE virus activity. Health officials hope to use the survey to map the prevalence of the disease in the state.

Hunters should be aware that the presence of EEE in deer does not affect the meat of the animal and that finding EEE in any of the samples does not indicate an infectious deer, only that there are EEE antibodies present.

Keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of Maine

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, along with other state agencies, is working to keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of Maine.

• Chronic Wasting Disease is one of a group of diseases known as Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). It is known to occur in mule deer, elk, and white-tailed deer, although other cervids such as red deer, fallow deer, sika deer as well as moose, and caribou may also be susceptible.

• CWD is thought to be caused by an infectious protein called a prion that upon entering the body; causes the host’s normal proteins to take on a diseased form. These prions accumulate in the brain and spinal cords, as well as lymph nodes, spleen, eye tissues, bone marrow, saliva, feces and urine in diseased deer.

CWD causes irreversible damage to brain tissues in affected animals and ultimately leads to death.

To prevent the introduction of CWD into Maine, recently passed laws now make it illegal for hunters who hunt and kill a deer, caribou, elk or moose in most states or provinces to transport any carcass parts that pose a risk of containing CWD prions back into Maine.

A new “adjacency clause” allows hunters to transport a carcass from New Hampshire, Quebec, New Brunswick, Labrador and Newfoundland into Maine.

In regards to other states and provinces, hunters may return to Maine only with boned-out meat, hardened antlers (with or without skull caps), hides without the head portion, and finished taxidermy mounts. If still attached, skull caps must be cleaned free of brain and other tissues.

It is legal for individuals to transport cervid carcasses or parts through the State of Maine if they are destined for other states, provinces, and countries. Transportation is to occur without undue delay and must use the most reasonably direct route through Maine to the final destination. Cervid carcasses or parts must be transported in a manner that is both leak-proof and that prevents their exposure to the environment.

The laws are a result of the fact that no state or province can claim to be free of CWD.

If it emerges in Maine, CWD could seriously reduce infected deer populations by lowering adult survival and de-stabilizing populations. Monitoring and control of CWD is extremely costly and would divert already scarce funding and staff resources away from other much-needed programs.

If one plans to hunt deer, caribou, moose or elk in a state/province known or suspected to harbor CWD there are commonsense precautions one should take to avoid handling, transporting, or consuming potentially CWD-infected specimens.

The precautions include:

• Do not eat the eyes, brain, spinal cord, spleen, tonsils, or lymph nodes of any deer.

• Do not eat any part of a deer that appeared sick.

• If your out-of-state deer is sampled for CWD testing, wait for the test results before eating the meat.

Field dressing:

• Wear rubber or latex gloves while handling the carcass.

• Minimize contact with the brain, spinal cord, spleen, and lymph nodes (lumps of tissue next to organs or in fat and membranes) as you work.

• Use a hunting knife, not knives used at the dinner table.

• Remove all internal organs for proper disposal by burial, or other means that prevents contact by live deer.

• Clean knives and equipment of residue and disinfect in a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach and water for 1 hour.

Currently, there is a high demand for CWD testing in states known to harbor CWD. Unfortunately, existing laboratory tests for CWD are expensive, time-consuming, and they can only be performed at a small number of federally approved labs. Although our system in Maine can accommodate enough samples (less than 1,000) from farm-raised and wild deer to scientifically monitor for CWD, we are not able to routinely test hunter-killed deer in Maine at this time.

Are Urine-Based Deer Lures Safe? Until more is known about whether commercial deer lures pose a realistic risk of spreading CWD, we recommend that hunters use caution in spreading urine-based lures in the environment, and avoid placing the lures on their clothing or skin.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at