Outdoor news

Firearm season for deer hunt begins Oct. 27

By Staff | Oct 26, 2018

Augusta — An eagerly-anticipated event for tens of thousands of hunters across the state will take place on Saturday, Oct. 27 — namely, the beginning of the firearm season for deer for Maine residents.

“With a growing deer population in central and southern Maine, we expect to see even more successful hunters this year,” said Nathan Bieber, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife deer biologist. “Last year was the most successful year in 10 years, but this year has the potential to be even better for deer hunters.”

The regular firearm season for deer opens on Saturday, Oct. 27 for residents, and Monday, October 29 for nonresidents. The firearms season for deer concludes on Saturday, Nov. 24.

“With cool weather for the start of season, and even fresh snow up north for the big woods trackers, we expect to see many successful hunters this weekend,” said Bieber. “Even if the rain materializes in the southern part of the state, it will remain cool and leave the woods quiet for hunting.”

Maine has more than 215,000 licensed hunters, and hunting continues to be an economic catalyst in much of Maine, supporting more than 3,400 jobs with an economic output of more than $338 million.

Deer hunting in Maine provides many families with wild game meat that is high in nutrition, sustainable, free range and organic. On average, a 150-pound field dressed deer will provide close to 70 pounds of meat. Last year’s deer kill provided more than 1.5 million pounds of meat to hunters and their families.

This year’s deer season has the potential to be even better than 2017, when deer hunters in Maine harvested 27,233 deer in 2017, the highest total in the last 10 years and an increase of 15 percent from 2016.

For this coming deer season, a total 84,745 any-deer permits are proposed for 22 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts, an increase of 28 percent. Last year, there were 66,050 permits available to hunters. Hunters who do not receive an any-deer permit are only allowed to shoot an antlered deer (with some exceptions during archery season and on youth day).

Permit numbers increased in nine southern and central wildlife management districts, decreased in 11 WMDs and stayed the same in nine WMDS. One can find the complete numbers at maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/any-deer-permit.html. One reason for the permit increase is that the 2017-18 winter was more moderate in central and southern Maine, while up north the winter was a little more severe than years past.

The department manages white-tailed deer through regulated hunting, and manages the deer population in parts of the state to limit vehicle crashes, reduce incidence of Lyme disease and reduce property damage complaints. In other areas of the state, the department manages the deer population to increase opportunities for hunting and viewing.

Deer seasons begin the Saturday after Labor Day and continue into mid-December. These structured seasons, along with controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 wildlife management districts across the state through the any-deer permit system, allows biologists to manage population trends.

If one plans to hunt this year, experienced hunters are encouraged to introduce someone new to the sport. An apprentice license is available to residents and non-residents, and sales of the license have increased by nearly 50 percent since they were first introduced in 2008. An apprentice license allows someone to hunt in the presence of an experienced hunter.

MDIFW officials also ask hunters to seek landowner permission on the land one wants to hunt. Asking for permission only takes a minute and the time that it takes benefits both the hunter and future of hunting. More than 90 percent of Maine is privately-owned, and the overwhelming majority of Maine’s outdoor recreational activities take place on private land, so treat the land as if it were your own.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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