AUGUSTA, Maine – This Saturday, October 29, marks the beginning of the regular firearm season for deer, an unofficial holiday for tens of thousands of hunters across the state. The regular firearm season for deer opens on Saturday, October 29 for residents, and Monday, October 31 for nonresidents. The Firearms Season for deer concludes on Saturday, November 26.
“Opening day of deer season is an eagerly awaited event that draws together family and friends year after year,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “It’s a Maine tradition filled with memories and anticipation that encompasses generations.”
Maine has over 225,000 licensed hunters, a number that has increased each of the past five years. Hunting continues to be an economic catalyst in much of Maine, supporting over 3,400 jobs with an economic output of over $338 million.
Following a 2016 winter that was on average warmer than usual, hunters should see more deer than last year. If normal hunting conditions and normal hunter effort prevail, IFW biologists believe that the deer harvest will be higher than last year’s 20,325 deer. For the past eight years, the deer harvest has averaged 20,900.
“Last year’s winter was more moderate than what we usually experience in Maine, and as a result, we have increased the number of Any-Deer permits in southern, central and western Maine,” said Kyle Ravana, IFW’s deer biologist.
The department manages white-tailed deer through regulated hunting, and controls the deer population in parts of the state to limit vehicle crashes, reduce instances of lyme disease and reduce property damage complaints. In other areas of the state, the department manages the deer population to increase opportunities for hunting and viewing.
Deer seasons begin the Saturday after Labor Day and continue into mid-December. These structured seasons, along with controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 wildlife management districts across the state through the Any Deer permit system, allows biologists to manage population trends.
Hunting continues to be an extremely safe sport. Last year, there were only four hunting-related firearm injuries, and two of those were self-inflicted. Over the past ten years, Maine has averaged only seven incidents per year, and there has been only one fatality in that time period.
“Nearly half of our hunting-related firearm injuries are self-inflicted, so hunters are reminded to treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction,” says Corporal John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service.
If you plan on hunting this year, experienced hunters are encouraged to introduce someone new to the sport. An apprentice license is available to both residents and non-residents, and sales of the license have increased by nearly 50% since they were first introduced in 2008. An apprentice license allows someone to hunt in the presence of an experienced hunter. For more information, please visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/apprenticeship.htm.
And remember; please seek landowner permission on the land you want to hunt. Asking for permission only takes a minute, and the time that it takes benefits both you and the future of hunting.
“So many of our outdoor traditions are made possible through the generosity of private landowners,” said Woodcock. “Please treat private land as if it were your own, and remember to thank any landowner who allows you access to hunt.”