With about 200,000 whitetails in the state, Maine deer hunters harvested 21,553 animals in 2012. The Pine Tree State is coming off two consecutive mild winters, helping the deer population to recover to what it was prior to severe winters in 2007-08 and 2008-09, which wiped out more than 30 percent of the deer herd.
Case in point: last year hunters in the northern Wildlife Management District (WMD) 3 had the highest buck harvest since 1963, and those in WMD 6 weren’t far behind. As a result, antlerless permits were issued in 2013 for both units, the first time that’s occurred since 2005.
Traditional and compound bowhunters combined forces to push through legislation limiting the use of crossbows for deer hunting.
“Chapter 236 of Public Law 2013 prohibits the use of crossbows by any person during the October archery season,” said Kyle Ravana, a deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W). “Older hunters can still use crossbows within Expanded Archery Zones, and all hunters can use them during the regular firearm season.”
This fall MDIF&W officials predict hunters will harvest about 25,000 deer, with most taken in the southern region. Nonetheless, hunters looking for a challenge should head in the opposite direction to the North Maine Woods (NMW), a 3.5 million acre deer hunting mecca. While the land is owned by private timber companies, hunters can pay just a few bucks a day to hunt to their heart’s content. You won’t find the deer densities that live in the South, but you will find a bunch of mature bucks that experience little if any hunting pressure. So put on a good pair of boots and a daypack with all the essentials and spend the day tracking down a behemoth buck.
“When I’m hunting the North Maine Woods, I first look for smaller streams and rivers, because deer gravitate to them,” said long-time NMW hunter and author R. G. Bernier (www.bigwhitetail.com). “I also look for elevation, because bucks will be on the elevation.”