Southern Lakes Region – Region A
Despite some warmer weather, deer season is off to a strong start in southern Maine, where registration numbers at area tagging stations are strong.
“Right now, we have a higher proportion of younger deer, and starting next week, we will start to see more mature bucks,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay.
Lindsay said that there were a good number of deer registered at all area registration stations including one large buck in the Fryeburg area. Game Warden Sergeant Kris Barbosa confirmed that a 16 point, 243 buck was shot in Fryeburg opening day.
Pheasant hunters are still getting birds in York and Cumberland counties. While all birds have been released, hunters are still finding success at area release sites (you can find a list of area release sites here: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm).
“We have received a lot of positive feedback this year about the pheasant program. People are still pheasant hunting, and the coverts in these areas are still holding birds,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay did day that there were some successful bear hunters on two wildlife management areas in southern Maine, the Vernon Walker WMA in Newfield and the Steep Falls WMA in Standish.
Central and Midcoast Maine – Region B
With all signs pointing to an exceptional natural food year, biologists are seeing this reflected in deer size and weights in the central part of the state.
“We are seeing some extraordinarily strong yearling buck numbers, and the quality is really high,” says IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper. Weights for yearling bucks are in the 125-130 range with 6-8 point racks. Most years, these bucks average around 110 pounds according to Kemper.
Kemper also got word (and a picture!) of a fully velveted buck in Albion. This 200 pound buck never shed its velvet, which is a sign of low testosterone. This genetic condition is known as cryptorchidism. Kemper also noted that one hunter bagged a deer whose face was full of porcupine quills.
“Deer numbers in Region B have rebounded strongly, the yearling buck quality is very good, and hunters are seeing good numbers of deer as well,” said Kemper.
Downeast Region – Region C
Last year, there was snow on the ground, and this year, temperatures are in the 60s. It’s been a little different deer hunting Downeast this fall.
“Hunters are out and about. Hunter effort seems to be consistent with the last few years, but the harvest is a little behind what it was last year,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Tom Schaeffer.
Downeast Maine saw record amounts of snow last year, and its effects are being seen.
“It’s been warm, and last year we had snow. I am encouraged with the number of deer we have seen, but a lot of tagging stations are behind where they were last year,” said Schaeffer. “We have had a good representation of yearling bucks, which is a good sign.”
Moose season is over in much of the region, although there are some cow permits issued in Wildlife Management District 19. “Hunters are finding cows,” said Schaeffer.
Bird hunters are still finding success, as leaves are now off the trees. However, there still is some striking foliage to behold.
“The blueberry fields Downeast are just flaming red. It may be just a little past peak, but it still is dramatic,” said Schaeffer.
Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region – Region D
Up north in the Rangeley area, deer season has started sluggish.
“I’ve visited stations in Eustis, Dixfield, Bethel, Roxbury and Andover, and it has been slow,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey. “Weather has had an effect on hunters.”
While warmer weather doesn’t impact deer as much as it does moose, it can have an effect on hunter effort, as many hunters scramble to get outside chores done before weather gets colder. The good news is that once it gets cooler, these numbers should pick up.
“A lot of people in the region have been saying they have seen a lot of deer this summer, many of them have said they’ve seen more than they expected,” said Hulsey.
Moosehead Region – Region E
Hunters in the Moosehead area have had a strong start to the season, particularly in the southern part of the region.
“Youth day was a big hit, with a lot of young hunters successful, and opening day was better than expected with good numbers of deer at area tagging stations,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane, who said that the Sangerville tagging station registered 20 deer.
Further north, it’s been slower, but that changes as the weather changes.
“In the north, there isn’t much hunter effort until the third week of the season. Once it gets cold, hunters are going to do real well,” said Kane.
Deer hunters in the area may also get an opportunity to take a bear this deer season. The warmer weather and abundant natural foods means bears are still feasting.
“Bears are still out, eating beech nuts and other mast. This could be a good season for deer hunters to get a shot at a bear,” said Kane.
While the frosty mornings have not been that frequent, leaves are off the hardwoods, and grouse are showing up much more than they were just three weeks ago.
Penobscot Region – Region F
Deer hunters in the southern part of the region have had success, but it has been a little slower as you head north.
“We haven’t had a lot of hunters out yet,” said IFW wildlife biologist Allen Starr, “But it is still early.”
Starr has received some reports of some big deer, including a 230 pound ten pointer up in Millinocket.
Deer in the area are in great shape added IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron, who added that he got reports of a couple in the 250-pound class.
“Some of the tagging stations are slow, but they deer they are getting are in great shape. We are getting a lot of good reports,” said Caron.
Duck hunters are still finding birds as well, with hunters who put in the time being rewarded with some good hunting.
Aroostook Region – Region G
“It’s been an unusual start to the season as we are in the 60s today,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “I strongly believe there’s more deer on the landscape than the last three or four falls, but they aren’t showing up at the tagging stations yet.”
With the warm weather, and the abundance of food, hunters may not see deer concentrated in areas where they may normally see deer.
“There is so much natural food out on the landscape, you aren’t going to see deer bottlenecked into an area where there is food,” said Hoppe. “They don’t have to be out and about where they are showing themselves since there is food everywhere.” Hoppe added most deer are content to feed and stay in area, not expending any energy.
Grouse hunting is still going strong, albeit a bit spotty. Talk to ten people and five will say it’s great and the other five will say its poor. Some areas contain high concentrations of birds, others not as many. Don’t give up if your first covert is holding birds, they are around, just not as spread out as past years..
Warmer temperatures and plenty of food means that other species are still around. Ducks and geese are still plentiful and feeding in the area and with all the fall foods, bears are still out foraging before they den up for the winter.