February 5, 2023

Difficult to Share Buck Harvest Data If It’s Not Available

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I was reading an article this morning that included tips on booking a guided deer hunt in Maine. I would suppose that the same tips might be applied to any state that offers guided deer hunts. One of the tips suggests that you talk with possible future guides to find out about deer size, quantity, and quality along with success rates.

I have no real issue with guides. They have a necessary role to fill. What I have an issue with is when guides dictate to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) what they want and get it. Sometimes those demands appear to be to the detriment of other hunters and hunting opportunities. I don’t like that. You shouldn’t either. The same goes for outfitters. I don’t begrudge their businesses but I do when privilege is given to guides and outfitters cutting short opportunities for the regular “Joe” licensed hunter.

It seems a bit odd then, that given that MDIFW often goes out of their way to cater to the whims of guides and outfitters, that a registered Maine guide would tell his readers and prospective clients that to get harvest data, including deer size, quantity, and quality to go to Quality Deer Management to find out. Why not to the MDIFW website? Or, for that matter, the Maine Guides website?

As most readers know, I’m not a huge fan of Quality Deer Management, mostly because of what they promote, but that’s really beside the point of this discussion. Why do interested prospective deer hunters have to go someplace other than the MDIFW or the Maine Guides to get harvest data to look at before deciding whether they want to hire a guide and deer hunt in Maine?

It would seem that if MDIFW is really looking out for their “buds,” the guides and outfitters, they would do a better job of providing deer harvest data to them and the rest of us. If, as one Maine guide points out, it is an important precursor to booking a guided hunt, this information would be readily available. Maybe it is and is already given preferentially to guides and withheld from the rest of the public. Perhaps MDIFW doesn’t really give a damn.

Other outdoor writers have shared their disappointments that Maine doesn’t do enough to promote Maine as a destination deer hunting state. If this is true, putting harvest data on their website one year after a game hunting season, substantiates such claims. It is also an odd way of helping out the situation of selling licenses and keeping the guides and outfitters operating in the black.

Doesn’t it send a wrong message to the prospect searching for a good place to go deer hunting, that they are recommended to a lopsided, trophy hunt pushing entity for data on Maine hunting? Maybe MDIFW is happy with that. Perhaps the Office of Tourism is not? What about the Governor’s Office?

From my perspective, I would prefer to look at the hard data on Maine deer hunting than get someone else’s interpretation of that data. But that’s me. Maybe it would be a good idea to place on the MDIFW website good helpful deer, bear, moose, turkey, and grouse information that might convince someone to come and hunt Maine. Maybe they don’t have any such information. Maybe they don’t care. Or, perhaps they don’t really want the hunting.

The advice and tips given are probably good, although I’ve never employed a guiding service and more than likely never will. However, at the rate Maine is going, before hunting ends completely, and it will, hiring a guide may be the only way a person will be able to hunt. Then, none of this will really matter.