October 30, 2014

Maine’s Big Bucks: Getting Smaller as Number Harvested Declines?

*Update* – March 1, 2012 – I will add the updated chart below that includes data from 2008 which was not available at the time of the original posting.

*Editor’s Note* All the information in this post was compiled by TomRemington.com contributor, Richard Paradis of Maine.

In 2009 I did a four-part series entitled, “Does Maine Have a Deer Management Problem?” (find links to the other parts in the “Related Links” at the bottom of the page.) In this expose I examined information I had received from the Maine Antler & Skull Trophy Club. It was expressed to me at the time that the harvest of trophy (rack and body weight) bucks in Maine had not only been significantly reduced in numbers but that it was not proportional to the overall decrease in deer harvested. From the information I had available to me at that time, I was able to show that the number of trophy bucks harvested did, in fact, mirror the overall trend in deer harvest statewide.

With Richard Paradis’ time to put together trophy deer body weight data and make a comparison for 5 or the past 6 years, it appears that again, number of trophy deer harvested closely follows in proportion to overall harvest. While some may view this as bad (of course we all want more deer to hunt.), it should tell us that the health of the deer herd, at least in terms of size, seems to be not be effected or is having an effect on the overall health and size of the herd.

Folks have been wondering whether Maine’s big bucks were getting fewer (they are) and whether they are getting smaller (not appreciably according to this small set of data). The counts are from a review of the Biggest Bucks in Maine entries from the Maine Sportsman magazine from 5 of the past 6 years. What is obvious is that the bucks being taken are being killed further south in the state. I had always assumed that the end of the season was a more opportune time to get a big buck so hunting hard to the last day was a good plan. Maybe not so. Of course, the bucks lose weight as the rut goes into high gear so they will weigh a lot more on the first day of the season than the last day. The disparities between the numbers of entries in the five years is due to ties and the 2010 listing does not have dates with the top 10. I will try to look that up and fix it later on as well as uncover 2008 of the Maine Sportsman’s Biggest Bucks in Maine editions to see if there really has been a difference over the years.