AUGUSTA, Maine – This Saturday, October 28, marks the beginning of the regular firearm season for deer, an eagerly anticipated event for tens of thousands of hunters across the state. With three consecutive winters that were milder than normal across most of the state, Maine’s deer herd is growing, and hunters are likely to see more deer this year throughout the state.
The regular firearm season for deer opens on Saturday, October 28 for residents, and Monday, October 30 for nonresidents. The Firearms Season for deer concludes on Saturday, November 25.
Maine has over 219,000 licensed hunters, and hunting continues to be an economic catalyst in much of Maine, supporting over 3,400 jobs with an economic output of over $338 million.
This year’s deer season has the potential to be even better than last years, due to three consecutive winters that were milder than normal. Hunters harvested 23,512 deer last year, up 3,187 from the year before. If normal hunting conditions prevail this fall, we could have a deer kill in the 27,000 range. For the past ten years, Maine’s deer kill has averaged 21,885 deer.
The department manages white-tailed deer through regulated hunting, and manages 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.
In Maine, winter is one of the limiting factors for Maine’s white-tailed deer. The 2015-16 winter was one of the mildest in the last 60+ years, which results in an increase in the deer population. To offset the population increases due to increased winter survival, MDIFW increased Any-deer permit allocations by approximately 60% (45,755) from the 2015 allocation of 28,770.
Hunting continues to be an extremely safe sport. Last year, there were only four hunting-related firearm injuries, and three of those were self-inflicted. Over the past ten years, Maine has averaged less than seven incidents per year. As nearly half (44%) the firearm-related injuries are self-inflicted, all hunters are reminded to treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
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. Over 90% of Maine is privately owned, and the overwhelming majority of Maine’s outdoor recreational activities take place on private land, so please treat the land as if it were your own.