AUGUSTA, Maine -- As deer hunters ready for opening day, hunters will find the most deer in the southern and central areas of the state, but some of the biggest deer in Western, Northern and Eastern Maine. 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.
"Deer season is a tradition rooted deep within the state," said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, "It is a heritage that is passed on generation to generation."
Department biologists believe that if normal hunting pressure and weather prevail, this year's deer harvest should be in the range of 29,400, a little higher than last year's total of 28,148. The total deer kill for each of the past ten deer seasons is as follows: 2005 – 28,148 , 2004 – 30,926; 2003 – 30,313; 2002 -- 38,153; 2001 -- 27,769; 2000 – 36,885; 1999 – 31,473; 1998 – 28,241; 1997 – 31,152; 1996 – 28,375; 1995 – 27,384; 1994 – 24,683.
This year, the department issued 67,725 Any Deer permits. An Any Deer permit allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex. By controlling the number of female deer in a population, the department can manage deer population trends. Any Deer permits are issued through a lottery system.
The number of Any Deer Permits and where they are issued reflect publicly derived long-term population management goals that were implemented back in 2001. In central and southern Maine, the department maintaining or reducing deer numbers, while in Northern and Downeast Maine, the department is trying to rebuild deer populations. Maine's wintering deer population last winter was estimated to be approximately 245,000.
The archery season for deer is currently ongoing, having started on September 28. In certain suburban areas of the state where high population densities of deer are common, an expanded archery season began on September 9, and will continue until December 9.
The Any Deer permit system was designed to reverse a statewide decline in the deer herd that began in the late 1950's. Since 1986, the herd has grown from 160,000 to the present total of just under 250,000. Population growth rates have been monitored in each of the 29 wildlife management districts within the state, and targeted harvest totals have been set accordingly to coincide with population objectives in each individual district.
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