They need to kill more deer in Eastport

The special December deer hunt in Eastport will be expanded this year, in an attempt to reduce the high population of deer that have become a nuisance there.

Last year’s special hunt, during the last two weeks of December, authorized only 30 hunters to shoot one deer each. And just 11 does were killed. “As anticipated, the 2016 special hunt did not result in significant reduction of does or a reduction in deer-human conflicts,” reported the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

This year’s hunt is still limited to 30 hunters, although after each one shoots a deer, another 60 permits will be available. The hunt is limited to bows, and hunters are required to sit in designated stands, rather than hunt through the area.

The DIF&W believes the increase in deer-human conflicts in Eastport is the result of three combined factors:

  • No hunting for does in WMD 27, to which Eastport was assigned in 2005
  • A municipal “no discharge of firearms” ordinance that restricts hunting to bows
  • Limited areas to hunt outside of the congested residential neighborhoods on this 3.6 mile island.

The 2017 hunt is scheduled for the two weeks immediately following the regular firearms season. And hunters will again be limited to specially placed stands. Last year there was a debate about allowing the hunters to place deer bait in front of their stands, but the people of Eastport did not want to allow that.

It seems to me that baiting makes sense, given that the entire goal is to kill deer. This is not hunting. It is killing.

27 permits will go to Eastport residents and just 3 to nonresidents. The permits are issued in a lottery. Last year 141 hunters applied for a permit. The permits allow only does to be killed.

DIF&W will distribute a survey to Eastport residents to assess their satisfaction with the special hunt and the current population of deer. “We’re going to measure success by the satisfaction of residents, not the number of deer killed,” said Judy Camuso, DIF&W’s Wildlife Division Director. She also reported that during the regular season, Eastport hunters will be allowed to shoot does. That should help.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.