April 21, 2014

Where Maine Had Thousands of Deer Now Only a Few

Hal Blood recalls how he used to snowmobile at the north end of Moosehead Lake and see deer by the thousands. Now he sees only a few hundred.

And where Blood, a registered Maine Guide, ice fishes on state conservation land near Jackman at the northwestern corner of Maine, the deer are simply gone, he said.

“I used to see deer lying up in the ridges. That whole Moose River valley 25 years ago was unbelievable. But there aren’t any deer there any more,” Blood said.<<<Read More>>>

Mike Hanback on Commercial Deer Hunting

“And a recent poll in New Jersey asked the question: Would you favor the commercial hunting of deer in New Jersey? While 51% said no, a surprising 45% answered yes.

While this idea has been out there for a couple of years, most people doubted whether a state government would be willing to step up and try it.

But in March New Jersey Republican Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said she will be introducing a bill that directs the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop and establish requirements for the commercial harvesting of deer. “This will be controversial but the Wall Street Journal had an article that said 85 percent of the venison sold in restaurants and at meat counters is imported from farms in New Zealand. It’s insane we’re importing it from New Zealand. Meanwhile, we’re overrun with deer… I hold my breath every time I get on the road. Instances of Lyme disease are a major problem.’’”<<<Read More>>>

86% Of Deer Hunters Hunt for Meat

I’ve written some about this before, in dispelling the lie often bandied around by the schilling Media that hunting is about trophies. In a recent survey of hunters in Massachusetts, 86% of hunters responding in a survey said they pursued whitetail deer, “for the delicious meat afforded them.”<<<Read More>>>

Vermont Publishes Deer Harvest Information

“Abundant apples, acorns and beechnuts that were available to deer last fall may have resulted in deer being more dispersed than in some previous years. However, cold temperatures and snow in the November rifle season likely increased the ability of hunters to find, see and take deer.”<<<Read More>>>

Skinning a Deer With Your Car

You may have seen this before….or at least some version of it. I’m not going to go searching, but I think I recall having posted a video perhaps 6 or more years ago showing a similar event.

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.

Maine – IFW Hunting Report For November 22, 2013

Compiled By Mark Latti with IFW Wildlife Biologists

Region A – Southern Lakes Region

“We are at numbers that we usually have at the end of the season, all our registration stations are up in numbers,” says IFW wildlife biologist Scott Lindsay, who has seen a lot of deer and deer hunters as this deer season continues.

“Everyone has been very positive about the season, and we are getting a lot of favorable comments from hunters,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay added that all the positive comments are not necessarily from successful hunters. Many hunters are seeing deer but being selective.

“We had one hunter who said that in Buckfield over a period of a half dozen days, he saw several deer that he could have taken, but he was waiting for a larger buck to show,” said Lindsay.

And there have been larger bucks showing up as well. Lindsay said they are seeing several deer a week in the 240-pound range, with lots of fat in the hips and the shoulders. He said the big ones have been tagged throughout the region, mentioning towns such as Wells, Waterboro and Hartford as successful locations.

“Deer are going into the winter in very good shape,” said Lindsay.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

In central Maine, hunting conditions remain excellent.

“Things have been robust as far as quantity and quality,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper, who said that numbers continue to be up throughout the region.

As is typical of the third week, Kemper said he saw a drop in the numbers this week. Last week was busy with excellent weather for hunting and the Veterans Day Holiday. Earlier this week, three straight windy days decreased hunter effort and slowed deer movement.

Kemper estimates that he will examine approximately 500 deer this year. While the specific timing of the rut is difficult to pin down, judging by what he is seeing and hearing from hunters, we are coming into the rut if we are not already there.

While things may have slowed down this week, Kemper expects to see a surge in hunters and the number of deer tagged during the Thanksgiving week.

Region C — Downeast

Downeast, hunters in the coastal district are having a lot of success.

“In WMD 27 along the coast, the number of deer taken is an recent high. Tagging stations are already ahead of last year’s totals with a big week still to go,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

While success in the coastal WMD has been strong, Schaeffer notes that as you head into the Downeast interior, success rates start to drop, and the deer kill in WMDs 28 and 19 is more on par with recent years. Overall, however, numbers are either at the average or above the average of the last five years. There are other positive signs as well.

“The yearling take is quite noticeable,” said Schaeffer, “and we are seeing good numbers of 2 and a half year old deer as well.” Schaeffer said that means there is decent winter survival of last year’s fawn crop which bodes well for the future.

“A good number made it through last winter and through the hunting season as well,” said Schaeffer.

Schaeffer has handled a number of deer this year, and has noticed a number of traditional crotch and spike horn bucks for yearlings. All are in decent shape and in condition. He also noted that tooth replacement seems advanced this year, but feels that could be due in part to the later calendar season, which is a week later than most years.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains

Up in Region D, while there may not be the number of deer that are south of there, hunters are certainly bagging some large deer.

“Deer numbers have been steady, and I have seen 10-15 deer that are over 200 pounds,” said IFW wildlife biologist Bob Cordes.

One thing that Cordes did note is that he has been seeing big deer throughout the season.

“They’ve been coming in steady, from youth day right into this week,” said Cordes.

IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey has been traveling through the region, taking biological samples from deer, and he had several observations.”

“Seems like we are seeing a higher percentage of nonresident hunters than we have seen recently,” said Hulsey. He hasn’t been seeing a lot of hunters, but the hunters he has seen have been generally very positive.

“We aren’t getting a lot of complaints, and that tells me the season is going well,” said Hulsey, who noted that when it’s not going well, he tends to hear from quite a few hutners.

Region E – Moosehead Region

Good things are happening up in the Moosehead region, where all the area tagging stations are showing an increase in numbers over the past few years.

“Some tagging stations are up by as much as 20 percent,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. “Kokadjo is up, and it has been like a desert up there the last few years.”

Kane thinks that the region hasn’t rebounded all the way back for the harsh winters of ’08 and ’09, but “people are happy because they are seeing deer.”

The big bucks are starting to show up in the harvest as well, as there was one 15-pointer that was shot in the southern part of The County, and it topped out at over 260 pounds.

Kane, who is gathering biological data from a number of harvested deer, is pleased with what he’s seen as far as age structure of the harvest as well.

“The yearling and 2-and-a-half year old numbers are really strong. The two-and-a-half year olds are really showing in the rut,” said Kane who says this bodes well for numbers in the spring.

The rut is in full swing as well. Kane remarked about an interesting observation. He was at the tagging station at Indian Hill last Friday, he handled three bucks, and all three were shot between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. All were out chasing down does in the middle of the morning.

“I have never seen anything so marked as that,” said Kane. “I am hearing a lot of stories about bucks chasing does.” Kane also cautioned hunters not to get confused if the bucks seem to stop moving. He said that when does are in peak estrus, there isn’t much movement, but just before and just after is when you get the peak movement for bucks.

Region F – Penobscot Region

“All our registration stations are way above where they have been the last few years,” remarked IFW wildlife biologist Allen Starr who said that deer totals for the season include over 80 deer registered in Hudson, over 100 in Corinth and the Katahdin General store in Millinocket tagged over 60.

One of the reasons for the many success stories is that the weather has cooperated with hunters.

“All in all it has been pretty good conditions for hunters,” said Starr, who noted that while earlier this week it had been pretty windy, the cold, clear weather boded well for hunters later this week.

Starr said the deer he has seen have all been in very good condition. He saw a nice nine pointer that topped out just under 200 pounds (198.5) that was shot in the Katahdin Iron Works area. Perhaps more interesting was a large yearling Starr checked, that was five points with nice thick antlers.

Starr also sent this picture of a happy hunter who bagged this big buck in the western part of the region, a 230 pound, ten pointer.

Region G – The County

Up in the County, a very successful deer season continues.…

“I would say that deer registrations are up by 75-100% over the last few years,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Rich Hoppe who noted that Ben’s in Presque Isle was up over 100% from last year with still a week to go. “Hunter effort is up, and success rates are up.”

Hoppe has examined a number of the harvested deer, and has come away impressed.

“The deer are in excellent shape headed into this year’s winter. What we noted with moose, with the exceptional weight and antler growth, also seems to be reflected in the deer,” said Hoppe.

“The excellent habitat and mild winters have enabled deer to maintain optimal body condition with high fat reserves,” said Hoppe. “This will serve them well going into winter and should translate into higher survival rates.”

Hunting conditions have also been very good as well. During the week of Veterans Day, there was snow on the ground Monday through Wednesday. Hoppe said he saw lots of hunters who took advantage of the excellent conditions to spend some time tracking deer.

If you’ve already tagged out or would rather chase grouse than deer, Hoppe added that there still is some excellent bird hunting in the western part of the region.

202-Pound Buck Registered in New Portland, Maine

PHOTO and caption:


16 Pts., 235 Lbs, 33″ Antler Spread

I am told this magnificent buck was taken in Maine.

*Update – December 9, 2013 – There’s a story of this buck found on Outdoor Life.


Maine IFW News — Deer Season Preview

*Editor’s Note* – I’m chuckling…..out loud too!

Hunters Excited About Deer Season As Deer Population Rebounds

AUGUSTA, Maine — Deer hunters are excited about the upcoming season, as deer numbers have rebounded from the back-to-back severe winters of 2008 and 2009. As a result, IFW wildlife biologists are expecting an increased deer harvest for the third straight year.

The firearm season for deer opens on Saturday, November 2 for residents and Monday, November 4 for nonresidents. The firearm season for deer concludes on November 30.

“Through strong management, conservation and some milder winter weather, Maine’s deer herd has rebounded,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Hunters are excited as they are seeing more deer throughout the state. We wish them good luck this season, and as always, we urge everyone to be safe while enjoying Maine’s great outdoors.”

Kyle Ravana, Maine’s deer biologist, estimates that if normal hunting conditions and hunter effort prevail, this year’s dear kill will be in the 25,750 range, nearly a 20 percent increase from last year’s kill. The total deer kill for the last ten years is as follows: 2012 – 21,553; 2011 – 18,839; 2010 – 20,063; 2009 – 18,092; 2008 – 21,062; 2007 – 28,885; 2006 – 29,918; 2005 – 28,148; 2004 – 30,926; 2003 – 30,313.

“After the severe winters of ’08 and ’09, the department instituted ‘Maine’s Game Plan For Deer’, a three-pronged approach to restore Maine’s deer herd,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “The three core principles of the game plan for deer include protecting and enhancing deer wintering areas, deer population management and focused predator control.”

At the core of Maine’s deer management program is the any-deer permit system, which regulates the harvest of does. One male deer will breed with multiple does, so by adjusting the number of female deer removed from the population, biologists can manage the deer population.

Maine’s wildlife biologists monitor winter severity throughout the state from December through April to determine the impact that winter weather has on deer survival. Maine is at the northern edge of the white-tailed deer’s population range, and severe winters can negatively impact Maine’s deer population. Recently, northern Maine has experienced four consecutive milder-than-average winters, and southern Maine has experienced two.

Maine’s biologists also examine thousands of deer for disease, analyze deer teeth to determine age structure of the harvest, monitor antler beam and growth for health and conduct hunter surveys to determine hunter effort and sightings. All combine to give department biologists a clearer picture of the health and size of Maine’s deer population.

The deer harvest has increased for the past three out of the last four years since hitting a low point following the severe winters of 2008 and 2009, a strong sign of a growing deer population. More importantly, several other indicators show that the deer herd has rebounded. Maine’s buck (male deer) harvest has increased for four straight years, and there have been record buck harvests in several wildlife management districts.

Harvest trends support the fact that the population has rebounded. Last year, WMD 3 in Eastern Aroostook County had its highest buck harvest ever, and WMD 6, while not a historical high, had one of its highest buck harvests ever. As a result of the increasing deer population in WMDs 3 and 6, the department issued any-deer permits in these WMDs 3 and 6 for 2013. Hunter surveys also show that hunters are seeing more deer.

Most telling is the annual buck kill, an index used by the department to note trends in the population. Maine’s buck kill has increased each of the past four years. Last year’s buck harvest increased 23% from the previous year. In much of the state, the buck kill exceeded the 10-year average, another sign the deer population has rebounded.

Perhaps more noticeable is the anecdotal evidence supporting the biological trends.

“There’s a buzz about the deer season. People are emailing, calling, telling us about the number of deer they are seeing,” said Ravana. “Now is a good time to be a hunter in Maine.”

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