November 13, 2018

Another Bad Deer Hunting Season in Maine?

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I reported to readers of my efforts in the Maine woods while at my annual hunting camp retreat. Reports seem to be mixed and, of course, sportsmen will be denied any information from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) about harvest numbers for another 4 – 6 months. So, what’s left is conjecture.

On one message board out of Maine that I frequent, one reader commented that it was a good year with lots of big bucks being taken. Not everyone agreed with that assessment, at least as it might compare to their hunting haunts.

One news report from The Forks, headlined that hunters are shooting bucks again, but for an honest assessment, you have to read and understand the “fine print.” First, know that the locals will attest to the fact that if there is any uptick to the deer harvest, or I might even more accurately call it an uptick in the deer population, it is from efforts by the local fish and game club. MDIFW likes to take credit when there are positive things afloat concerning hunting successes, but don’t seem eager to accept responsibility when it’s not.

In The Forks, hunters and local businesses are feeling better but, according to the news article, deer tagged at the local tagging station isn’t producing numbers that would actually reflect changes closer to normal that hunter would like to see. Harvest number remain low in comparison.

V. Paul Reynolds, in his weekly report at the Sun Journal, has little good to report about improvements to the deer hunting in Maine.

During a week with my annual hunt mates at our deer camp in Piscataquis County, one antlered deer was taken among 7 or 8 hardcore deer hunters: son Scotty bagged a young 8-pointer. As a group we were somewhat let down by the scarcity of deer sign. During the fall of 2014, during which a single buck was also taken, there was a lot of sign, suggesting to us that our beloved hunt area was, after all the years, finally holding some deer again. But it did not seem to be the case this year.

Are these reports more typical of what is happening around Maine? I think so, although there are pockets of good deer numbers and places where hunters can go and have success. Unfortunately, everyone can’t, nor would they choose, to hunt in these areas. We like to hear of the successes in these areas, but we also would like to see some deer in those places we like to go.

Some will say that The Big Woods of northern and northwestern Maine are too far north, and at the most northern fringe of the whitetail deer range, to produce many deer. Many of these same people say global warming is causing all sorts of trouble. If global warming is happening, I wish it would hurry up so that that most northern fringe of the deer’s range moves further north causing more deer to grow in northern Maine. Note: I’m not holding my breath on this.

I suppose, hoping to be mostly forgotten, in 4 – 6 months MDIFW will publish it’s annual harvest data and then we can compare it to previous years. What will we see? Probably little change in harvest data. I hope I am wrong. I hope most hunters had a very successful and enjoyable deer hunting season.

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