With deer numbers in Maine high in 2020, particularly in the southern and central parts of the state, with roughly 110,000 deer permits recommended for the calendar year, hunters will have ample opportunities to fill their freezers with venison and enjoy one of Maine’s five regulated deer-hunting seasons.

The first deer-hunting season — expanded archery — opens on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Below are a tips and considerations, from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, for this year’s hunt:

• Practice early and often with one's weapon. Try different shooting distances and angles, while wearing the same clothes you normally wear while hunting.

• Know the deer in a hunting area. Spend time scouting for deer sign and getting to know the land and what is on it. Look for trails, bedding areas and preferred food sources. Talking to locals may yield valuable intelligence on deer in an area.

• Maine’s Wildlife Management (WMD) areas offer wonderful hunting opportunities. Find one in your neck of the woods.

• Maine is fortunate to have landowners offer access to private property to hunt. Read about exploring private land in Maine and always ask for permission.

To apply for any-deer permit online, visit mefishwildlife.com. Applications must be completed online by 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 17. It is free to apply for the any-deer permit lottery. A chance drawing will be held on Friday, Sept. 11 and results will be posted on the department’s website.

High numbers of bonus permits anticipated

While a regular any-deer permit allows a hunter to harvest either a buck or a doe, limited numbers of bonus permits also are issued most years. A bonus permit allows a hunter to harvest an additional antlerless deer, meaning a hunter can take a buck with their regular hunting license in addition to another antlerless deer with their bonus permit.

Bonus permits become available when there are more any-deer permits available than there are applicants for those permits, and with record-high numbers of any-deer permits in 2020, we anticipate that there will be many bonus permits available to hunters as well.

Bonus permits allow a hunter to harvest an additional antlerless deer in the specified WMD. You may apply for a bonus permit during the any deer permit lottery. Just select your preferred WMD from the “bonus choice” drop down menus when you fill out the “districts” information on an application.

A limited number of bonus permits also are allocated in two deer management subunits in WMDs 25 and 26 where the organization tries to increase antlerless harvest to limit high levels of deer-human conflict.

Expanded archery changes for 2020

The earliest opportunity to hunt deer in Maine occurs during the expanded archery season, where archers may hunt beginning Sept.12 in designated areas. These areas were established to provide opportunity and increase harvest in areas where firearms discharge ordinances, urban development, and land access issues limit ability to regulate deer numbers. Maine has 11 expanded archery areas, and the boundaries were expanded on four of these areas effective for 2020. These changes impact the Augusta, Camden, Lewiston, and Wildlife Management District 24 areas. For more information, visit the expanded archery page.

New opportunities for crossbow hunters

Starting Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2022, Maine hunters may use a crossbow to hunt deer during the regular October archery season as long as they meet permit requirements and purchase a crossbow hunting permit. Crossbow hunters under the age of 65 will need an any-deer permit or bonus permit to harvest an antlerless deer during the regular October archery or rirearms seasons. For more information, visit the crossbow information page.

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