March 20, 2018

And Maine’s 2017 Deer Harvest Total Is………?

Awe shucks! Maine is the last New England state to let people know anything about the deer harvest for 2017.

Maybe that new guy they hired to be the new head deer biologist doesn’t know how to count either. Question: How many piping plovers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


Maine IFW Website Now Has Game Harvest Data Published

I have written in recent past of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) appearing to have scrubbed of a lot of hunting, fishing and trapping information from their website. At the time of the first writing, I wrote: “Perhaps MDIFW has released their new website a bit prematurely in hopes of tying in all their previous pages of information in time.”

Evidently, that has been part of the scenario taking place. Just today, I returned to the MDIFW website and found links to harvest data for game animals. This is good news. I doubt that the revamping of the website will be a reason to think harvest data will be published in a more timely manner.

However, and there are a few, finding that data isn’t an easy task due to poor navigation. Landing on the “Home Page,” one can see a typical menu bar near the top of the page. One of those menu titles is “Hunting and Trapping,” where one might expect to find harvest data.

If you hover your cursor over the drop-down menu, the options include, Hunting Rules & Laws, Trapping Rules & Laws, Licenses & Permits, Safety Course, Accessing Private Land, Wildlife Management Areas, Opportunities for People With Disabilities, Commercial Shooting Area, and Safety Tips. There is no headline to find “Harvest Information” and there should be.

If you click on the menu icon in that menu bar and scroll down the landing page, eventually you will find a link to game harvest information.

The good news is, there is now some of the information that was on the old website available once again on the new site. However, there are still some pages that I have links to that the links are no good and I can’t find the data.

Maybe in time.



Maine: Contradictory Deer Management Goals vs. Reality – Shameful

Here are some interesting, to say the least, deer management graphics the property of which are from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), with the exception of the deer harvest graph which is private property. These graphs and tables should show hunters that what MDIFW puts out in their deer management plans and long-range goals, is a far cry from the practices that are being carried out and the results that those practices give. One has to wonder if anyone holds the department accountable for this farce?

The first table here shows the Wintering Deer Population goals, per each Wildlife Management District (WMD), by the year 2030. Note that the total deer population goal for 2030 is 383,550. Yeah, I know. I’m still spaying coffee on my computer screen.

According to information that I’ve been able to get my hands on, the largest estimated deer population, after the deer hunting season, came in 1999 – 331,000 (found on second chart below).

We find ourselves near the conclusion of the 2017 deer hunting season and it appears as though the estimated deer population in Maine must be about, or less than, 200,000. That’s a bit shy of the hoped-for 383,550 set for 2030…a mere 13 years from now. Maybe the hope is global warming will do the trick?

From available data, between the years 1999 and 2008, the average deer population (after harvest), estimated by the MDIFW, was 214,600. Using data from the deer harvest chart below (the harvest total is information provided by MDIFW, the chart was made by an individual and his calculations), during that same time frame, an average of 30,353 deer were harvested each year…or about 14% of the estimated state deer herd.

Using that data, and knowing that Maine harvested about 22,000 deer last year (and as low as 18,000 in 2009), at 14% harvest rate, the population might be as low as 150,000 deer at present and has dipped to below 125,000 in 2009/2010.

And yet, when we examine chart two below, we see that as the estimated deer population shrank, the number of “Any-Deer Permits” (doe permits) increased significantly. Why? We are told by MDIFW that the “Any-Deer Permit” allotment is the management tool they use to manipulate the deer population by WMD. We are told that if MDIFW wants to lower a deer population within a WMD, they increase the allotment of “Any-Deer Permits,” and vice-versa. So this action makes very little sense, as far as deer management goals. Perhaps it makes more sense concerning meeting budget income requirements to pay inflated salaries and retirement.

I would surmise that if I were presenting a deer management goal of 383,550, when in reality there may be only 150,000 deer left roaming the state, increasing the sales of “Any-Deer Permits,” and at the same time telling the public that Maine has lots of deer due to a bunch of “mild” winters in recent years, while Maine set records last year for total snowfall, I’d scrub my website of any data that showed me to be a poor, and perhaps dishonest, wildlife manager too.

So what’s really going on and why? We will never know because finding out makes people uncomfortable. Evidently, it’s better to be on the ins with the MDIFW, with no deer to hunt, than on the outside…with still no deer to hunt. One has to ask themselves if this is the nonsense we are seeing when it comes to deer management, what else is going on in Augusta?


Doing a Rotten Job


Playing With Maine’s Big Bucks…Numbers That Is

I recently wrote an article for a local newspaper in Maine, The Bethel Citizen, about how “Statistics Prove that Statistics Can Prove Anything.” That article didn’t have room for all, or even any, of the graphs and charts I’ve been collecting about Maine’s “Big Bucks,” i.e. those bucks weighing in excess of 200 lbs and those registered with the magazine Maine Sportsman.

If you examine the chart below, you will see in the left column the years 1999 through 2016. Please note that the total deer kill for 2016 is an estimate because the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has not released data as of this writing.

For Big Buck comparisons, focus your attention on the column that shows the % of Big Bucks as to the total deer harvest. This chart might tell us that not only has the number of Big Bucks killed over the past 16 or so years decreased but something worth paying attention to is that the % of Big Bucks to the total harvest has not remained steady. Logic should force us to conclude that if all things are relative and in line with management goals for deer, regardless of the number of deer harvested, the % of Big Bucks should remain virtually the same. It doesn’t.

This next graph, which I found on the Face Book page for Maine Deer Hunters, posted by Troy Frye, gives us a great glimpse at the number of bucks harvested versus the number of “Antlerless” deer for each season, 2000 – 2015. I see an interesting graphic. After the severe winters of 2007/2008, MDIFW cut “Any-Deer Permits” allocation drastically. By doing such, hunters were not able to take the first deer they saw, providing they had a permit that allows harvest of either sex. In other words, an “Any-Deer Permit” does not limit the bearer to shooting only an “antlerless” deer. While during those years, the total deer harvest did drop, the buck harvest didn’t drop by the same percentage as the total harvest.

The percentage of bucks to “antlerless” harvest was considerably higher from the years 2008 through 2015. How does this affect the percentage of Big Buck harvest in comparison with total deer harvest, as shown in the chart above?

That may be a difficult task to answer, however we can see from the above chart that the number of Big Bucks and the percentage of total harvest dropped and essentially has remained low since at least 2008 – none of these numbers remaining consistent.

To provide us with an easier comparison, my techno guru put this graph together for me. I must give credit where credit is due. The basic graph that shows the total number of Big Bucks harvested, from 2000 – 2016 was also posted on the Maine Deer Hunter Face Book page. My techno guru overlaid (in red) the percentage of Big Bucks as compared to total deer harvest. Note: There are some slight differences in numbers used from one source to another. Those differences should not have any measurable influences in determining, or attempting to determine, trends.

The last two charts attempt to make comparisons of the average weights of the top ten heaviest harvested Big Bucks for the years 2006 – 2016. Does anything here jump out at you?

Deer management is a very complex science. While it might be interesting to play around with statistics, with what is presented essentially anyone could make an argument for or against most anything related to deer management. While I, or anyone else, might recognize a possible trend, it is most difficult to make any real firm statements without having at one’s disposal all the data for the years in question due to the many influences that can alter any data from one year to the next.

Having said all that, here’s something that I think should provide information the Maine Legislature, or the MDIFW Committee, or anyone else should consider BEFORE proposing another Sunday Hunting Bill.

The chart, found on Maine Deer Hunter Facebook page, posted by Troy Frye, shows the 2016 Big Buck Harvest and what percentage of that harvest occurred on what day of the week. For example, 31% of the total Big Buck harvest took place on Saturday. That’s because more hunters have that day of the week off from work and take it to hunt.

When you consider that Maine can only sustain a deer herd with a limited total deer harvest, adding Sundays to the hunting season would not necessarily add 3 or 4 weekend days a season to hunt. In short, to maintain a desired and limited deer harvest, the total season would need to be shortened to offset the increased hunter effort.


Maine’s Moose Harvest Numbers – 2005-2016

For the past twelve years, you can see the number of moose permits issued, number of moose harvested by sex, total number of moose taken and success rates.


2016 Moose Harvest Data Out…Before Start of 2017 Season

For those interested, Maine has posted the 2016 moose hunting season harvest data on their website…and even before the next season begins.


PA Releases 2016 Bear Harvest Data. Maine Asleep At The Wheel

This year, 2016, Pennsylvania bear hunters took 3,529 bears – 5th highest harvest on record. Officials are telling the world about the great bear hunting Pennsylvania has to offer. This report is calling it “The Golden Age of Bear Hunting.”

Two years ago, Maine harvested, 3,016 bears. It took officials over a year to release any of the harvest data and when they did, it was not announced to anyone. For days on end, I would check in at the website and for days on end, nothing appeared. Hmmmm!

The 2016 bear hunt has long concluded, and hunters can expect the data from that hunt to be available on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website by sometime in September of 2017 – hopefully not long after another new bear hunting season has started.

Some have asked me why I get all “wee-weed up,” as a former president once said, over the release of deer, moose, turkey and bear harvest data. “What difference does it make?”

I wouldn’t expect everyone to understand, or care enough to understand, so let me present it in a way I have not presented it in the past.

Suppose, as we have been told (if you look hard enough), that Maine actually was interested in finding more bear and turkey hunters. There are some reports that make that claim. It is my understanding that this dilemma has become a regular topic of discussion at the planning meetings for bear and turkeys.

It’s a bit odd, to me anyway, that in many parts of Maine the deer hunting sucks, but I have seen MDIFW attempt to convince people through the media that the deer hunting is great. Maine has too many bears and too many turkeys, but I don’t hear any bragging about how good it is. I don’t get it.

It would seem to me, that one way to go about bragging, would be to put some honest effort into getting the harvest information out as quickly as possible and then brag about it. Let the world know that Maine, last year (if they got their data out in a timely fashion), harvested 3,016 bears and 7,570 turkeys.

A message can be sent that Maine cares about, not only the social tolerances of its brainwashed citizenry, but that it cares about the importance of harvest data to keep the hunters happy and to be able to use such information as a marketing tool, instead of some kind of political leverage of power over others – which is what it all too often feels like.

Isn’t it time to put some effort and money where mouths are found? Talk is cheap. If MDIFW wants more hunters – which spells revenue – to assist in better control over turkey and bear populations, they have a terrible way of showing it. One has to assume they don’t care.

Perhaps it’s the Climate Change.


Finally! Maine’s 2015 Bear Hunt Harvest Information

For those interested, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has finally posted their annual report of the 2015 bear hunt. The posting comes several days into the 2016 bear hunting season and nearly 9 months after its conclusion.


Maine Bear Baiting Season Begins. IFW Fails to Have Last Season’s Numbers Published

FWIW: Baiting of Maine bears begins on Saturday and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) Folks haven’t got the numbers for last year’s hunt published on their website. They produced numbers last year on August 3rd for the 2014 hunt but their record for most tardy is for the 2006 hunt which was reported on August 27th.  The numbers are somewhat meaningless because they switched categories for reporting from Counties to Hunting Zones for the 2011 Kill.  Following Precedent the 2005 Bear Harvest Numbers will be dropped from the Bear Page because they only display the latest 10 reports.

Perhaps caring for those piping plovers, counting bats and swooning over the over-population of loons and cormorants keeps the bear counters too busy to fuss over anything as trivial as bear harvest data.

(Note – You can click on the charts to enlarge for easier reading.)