November 29, 2023

Maine’s 2012 Deer Harvest Up 13% From Previous Dismal Performances

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*Editor’s Note* – Below is a copy of a press release sent out by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) with more details on the 2012 deer harvest. Two things are noted in this release that I would like to put a bit more emphasis on. First, that there was a sharp reduction in “Any Deer Permits” issued for the 2011 season followed by a sharp increase in those same permits for 2012. This act alone will add to the 13% increase in deer harvest. The second issue is the fact that the 2012 season comes on the heels of two back to back mild winters. MDIFW is very quick to point out how it’s not their fault when severe winters cut into the deer population and justly so, in that we humans can’t always control the weather. But on the same token, MDIFW shouldn’t be so quick to take credit for more deer due to mild winters. There seems to be a little bit of back patting going on in this press release on the successes of MDIFW’s management attributing to the 13% increase. In the release below, it notes that Gov. LePage, “commended MDIFW on its management of the deer population and the results.” Congratulations and proper recognition are always due when deserved. Surely it is much too early to be seeing any results from a small predator control program that has yet to show much effectiveness in increasing the deer herd. I think the Governor was being a bit too hasty and kind in placing commendation on MDIFW for their management skills when these results are nothing more than the result of favorable winters and a marked increase in Any Deer Permits one year after having reduced them sharply.

Let’s keep our attention and focus on the meat and potatoes of the deer problems and save the back slapping for when the real job is done.

From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Augusta, Maine –The 2012 deer season ended with a total harvest of 21,365 deer, representing an increase of 13% over the 2011 harvest of 18,839. Increases in the harvest were seen in all wildlife management districts. The highlight of the 2012 season, and testament to the recovering deer numbers, was the jump in the overall harvest of bucks between 2011 and 2012. A total of 15,271 adult bucks were harvested in Maine this past season, representing an increase of 2,473 deer over the 2011 season (i.e., 19% increase). Indeed, the overall buck harvest increased within all 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs), including WMD 3, which experienced an overall buck harvest of 203 animals, the highest level of harvest seen in that District since 1963.

Governor Paul R. LePage commended MDIFW on its management of the deer population and the results. “Maine has a long tradition of hunting, and I am pleased at the growth of the deer herd,” he said. “Hunting offers residents and visitors alike an opportunity to participate in one of Maine’s time-honored traditions, as well as the chance to enjoy our state’s natural resources.”

There was an increase in the Expanded Archery Zone harvest in 2012. Youth hunters also saw an increase in their overall harvest. Despite a soggy opening day, Maine’s youth harvested a total of 567 deer, representing a 5% increase over the 2011 season. Their harvest consisted of a total of 226 adult bucks, 223 adult does, and 118 fawns. Youth hunters were allowed to harvest antlerless deer without needing an Any-deer Permit in WMDs where permits were issued.

A strategic allocation of Any-deer Permits allowed the Department to control deer population growth while balancing the number of bucks and does on the landscape. Because of the exceedingly moderate winter and the 2011 decrease in Any-Deer-Permits, MDIFW determined that an increase in the number of permits in 2012 was appropriate for specific WMDs. The 2012 permit allocation resulted in a slight increase in the harvest of adult does (6% over the 2011 season), and overall population growth. Conversely, the fawn harvest dropped by approximately 8% across WMDs.

On the heels of another winter that didn’t significantly stress the deer population, the state should expect to once again see an increase in Maine’s deer population for the 2013 season. As in years past, Maine will continue to offer numerous opportunities for hunters whether they choose to use a rifle, bow, or muzzleloader, in their pursuits. With this in mind, Maine hunters should look forward to increasing opportunities for tagging one of the state’s whitetail deer in 2013.

For more information on deer hunting in Maine, go to