August 6, 2020

A Glimpse At Maine’s Big Buck Harvest

The Maine Sportsman has published the list of the biggest bucks taken during the 2013 deer hunting season. My in house statistician has done a preliminary estimation that shows how this year’s big buck harvest will stack up against previous years.

Once the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife decides to release it’s data on the deer harvest (anyone’s guess), the below chart will be updated to better reflect the actual figures. For 2013 the number of 200-pound plus deer is accurate according to the Maine Sportsman. The deer harvest figure of 22,000 is a projection based on information available.

MaineBigBucks

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16 Pts., 235 Lbs, 33″ Antler Spread – Update

From the photograph I posted in mid-November, Outdoor Life has the full story to go with the picture.

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This Couldn’t Possibly Be a Maine Deer

Like the Legend of Grey Ghost, deer stories and perpetuated legends and lore remain healthy across Maine….all of which are true as true can be. And, it is that time of year when trigger fingers get itchy and of course with the whitetail deer hunting season opener for Maine residents less than one week away, the die-hards (hahdz as Mainer’s would say) are doing some serious scouting hoping for a chance at a “wicked good” buck.

If I tell too much about the below trail camera photos, I’ll have to be killed. But, I was told that the first two photos below were taken in Maine. As a kid, I remember it seemed this is what deer hunting in the Pine Tree State was really like, which makes me wonder if these photos captured a “ghost” of a deer.

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And, running the risk that men in blaze orange suits will come and hunt me down, there’s a wicked good rumor that the buck, pictured in the photos above, might possibly be a direct descendent of Horace Hinkley’s legendary buck………or not (running scared here) and probably guilty of spreading more lore.

hinkleybuck

More information on Hinkley buck here.

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2012 Maine Deer Harvest Statistics

You will notice on the below chart the question being asked if big bucks in Maine are beginning to make a comeback. While the data presented indicate an increase in the number of 200-pound and greater bucks taken as a percentage of the total harvest, one should probably not jump to too many conclusions. Bucks’ weight is determined by many things, as has been historically, in which we will see small fluctuations up and down. There’s always the possibility as well that a larger size buck, if it relates to a slightly older or more mature deer, may be an indication of an aging deer population which may not be such a good thing.

However, a slight uptick in deer harvest and percentage of large bucks taken, generally speaking and all factors relative, can be taken as probably positive signs.

bigbucks2012
Chart and data compiled by a contributor and researcher for TomRemington.com

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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.


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