Time to tell DIFW if you support lots more any deer permits

It’s time to let DIFW know if you support their proposal to issue the most any-deer permits ever. You can send your comments to Becky Orff by email (Becky.Orff@maine.gov) or regular mail (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department, 284 State Street 42 SHS, Augusta. ME 04333.

Here’s the column I wrote earlier this month about this issue.

DIFW wants us to kill more does this year

An astonishing total of 84,745 any-deer permits will go to deer hunters this year, the highest amount since the permit system was initiated in 1986. This year’s total is a 28% increase over last year and means that nearly half of our deer hunters will be able to shoot does, if they want to.

Deirdre Fleming reported recently that DIFW Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso told the department’s Advisory Council that in all but six of the state’s Wildlife Management Districts the projected doe harvest was not reached last fall. State biologists projected a doe harvest of 7,114 in 2017 but the actual reported doe harvest was only 5,950.

This is the first issuance of permits since the department adopted a new deer management plan. One of the goals in the new plan is to reduce deer numbers in the southern half of the state.
You are probably aware that there are two Maines now. The deer herd in northern Maine is greatly diminished. Any-deer permits in that area either stayed the same or were reduced.

Between the mid-1950’s and early 1960’s, Maine’s deer population was estimated to be 250,000, and 35,000 to 40,000 deer were killed each year. During the 1960’s, the deer herd was estimated at only 141,000. But in the 80’s and 90’s, the herd grew to an all-time high of 331,000.

Maine sporting camp owners told me their biggest challenge is the loss of hunters and anglers. There are lots of great places to hunt deer in North America, and Maine is not on that list anymore.
In 2016, the top five states for buck harvests were Texas (399,487), Michigan (196,233), Wisconsin (156,920), Pennsylvania (149,460) and Georgia (134,456).

Doe harvests were highest in Texas (322,557), Alabama (191,555), Pennsylvania, Georgis, and Wisconsin.
In 2015, Maine hunters killed 14,906 bucks and 3615 adult does. The total harvest was 20,325 and 73% were bucks.

Clearly, DIFW is greatly challenged to increase the doe harvest, and Maine’s outdoor industry will continue to struggle to attract deer hunters to Maine.

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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.