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Maine Deer Season 2012: Hunting Forecast

August 13, 2012
Maine Deer Season 2012: Hunting Forecast - 0

The Maine deer herd appears to be on the upswing, after several horrendous winters took their toll.

“Central Maine deer numbers are rebuilding from some past rough winters but looking very good going into 2012,” said Lee Kantar, state deer biologist with Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Northern and Downeast parts have been tough, but with an extremely mild winter in 2011-2012, deer have benefited greatly. Our southern deer population is going strong and the deer harvest is looking good.”

This recent winter was extremely mild across Maine, and the winter before was shorter than normal, providing a back-to-back break for deer.

“In Northern, western and eastern parts of the state, deer numbers rise and fall depending on how severe winter is,” Kantar says. “These two winters have given deer here a break and will result in increased harvest in 2012 and beyond.”

That probable harvest increase is reflected in the 34,160 any-deer permits available this year, to be issued in 13 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts. (It is bucks only in all other wildlife management districts.) Last year, only 26,000 any-deer permits were available in 11 of the 29 management districts.

All very good news for Maine deer hunters, considering that during the Winter of 2008-2009 up to 30 percent of Maine’s northern deer herd died.

As for food sources … “Summer forage in Maine is never much of a problem and with a very early spring green up, most of Maine deer benefited greatly,” Kantar says.

Across Maine, the third full week of November is usually the height of the rut.

The Northeastern Regional Report
A very mild winter (which followed a generally mild winter in 2010–2011) and average-or-better amounts of spring and summer rain this year have the Northeast region looking good this fall. States like Vermont and Maine are expecting improved harvests, as the easy winters have allowed deer herds to rebound. Except for a small pocket of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, and a limited outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in west-central New Jersey, deer here have no real health issues.

While there are still many good-size deer in the Northeast, trophy antler production has eased away from here and moved into the Midwest region. The Boone and Crockett Club’s “Trophy Whitetail Production, 2005 to 2010,” for example, doesn’t list a single Northeastern state in the top 10. Pennsylvania, at number 20 (with 26 entries), is the highest-ranked state from this region.

That said, Northern states still grow big-bodied deer. “During the 2011 season, we had 124 bucks registered that, on the hoof, would have tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds,” says Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski.

Top Trophy Zones**
NY: Monroe, Wayne, and Suffolk counties. Comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island, Suffolk County produces approximately half the state’s Pope and Young records—including a 2006 buck that netted 196 2⁄8 non-typical.
NJ: Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Salem counties.
PA: Alleghany, Chester, Washington, and Beaver counties.
WV: McDowell and Wyoming counties.

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