If you were hoping to be able to target both does and bucks during this fall’s deer season, wait no longer.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife will stage its annual any-deer permit drawing on Friday.
In all, the DIF&W will select 51,850 hunters who will be able to shoot a deer of either gender. The rest of us — yes, I’m already planning to miss out … again — will be looking for antlers come November.
Due to the extremely harsh conditions that deer endured last year, that total is significantly lower than it has been in recent years. In 2007, for instance, more than 66,000 any-deer permits were awarded.
The state’s deer biologists estimated that in some Wildlife Management Districts, the winter mortality on deer reached 30 percent.
This year, with fewer deer running around in the Maine woods, the number of does that biologists will allow to be culled from the herd is smaller.
As a result, any-deer permits will be awarded in only 11 of the state’s 29 WMDs.
As has been the case in past years, the BDN will not publish the names of any-deer permit recipients.
That trend began in 2003, when the state began offering hunters the opportunity to select a WMD preference where they’d like to receive an any-deer permit.
When that happened, this paper had no choice but to stop printing full results of the lottery; in previous years, we’d been able to simply print a short list of two-digit numbers that corresponded with the last two digits of license numbers for lucky hunters.
Under the new system, we’d have to print names, hometowns and a WMD next to each successful applicant. And when yearly any-deer permits sometimes approach 70,000, that’s just not feasible: It would take a couple days worth of newspapers (with no advertisements) to list all the names.
If you’re eager to find out if you’re going to be able to shoot a doe this year, go to www.mefishwildlife.com. Or, if you come back to this column on the Internet on Friday, our top-notch Web folks will activate a link that will take you directly from here to the state site.
The DIF&W will have all the results up on that Internet site as soon as possible after the names are drawn from the virtual hopper.
There is one more important thing to remember about this year’s any-deer lottery: If you are drawn, it’s up to you to find that out … and to learn what to do next.
The DIF&W has announced that it will not send out permits or transportation tags through the mail this year.
Instead, it’s up to individual hunters to log onto the Internet, where they can find out if their name has been drawn … and what their doe-permit ID number is.
Hunters are advised to write that number down and carry it with their hunting license while hunting. Tagging stations will ask for that ID number when hunters return to register their deer.
New Zealand outlaws felt waders
In past months, I’ve told you a bit about an invasive form of algae called Didymosphenia geminata, or didymo.
The algae has been found in Vermont, and many fear that it will be transferred to nearby waters — like those in Maine — on the fishing equipment of anglers.
At least one nation is getting serious about the spread of didymo.
According to a press release I received from ProtectYourWaters.net, New Zealand, which has been on the front line of the battle against didymo, has decided to ban the use of felt-soled wading boots in its waters.
New Zealand’s conservation minister agreed to the action on Sept. 8.
Didymo, which is often referred to as “rock snot,” clings to waders and wading shoes and can be transferred to other waterways even when it’s not plainly visible.
Many resource agencies have begun recommending the sterilization of wading boots and waders after use.
Felt-soled boots, which are designed to provide increased traction when wading on slippery rocks, are especially susceptible to didymo transfer. The felt-soled boots dry slowly, and act as sponges that can hold tiny pieces of the algae that can re-establish themselves in other host rivers and streams.
If you’ve spent any time fly-fishing on Maine’s rivers and streams, you’ll also realize that felt-soled wading boots are common in this neck of the woods.
My wading boots, for the record, are felt-soled.
It’s time for all of us anglers — particularly those who travel from one river to another — to pay closer attention to the threat that didymo poses to our favorite waters.
The operative words, according to many: Check. Clean. Dry.
Check for didymo on your equipment. Clean your gear according to the instructions you can find on nearly any fly-fishing Web site. Then dry it completely before moving on to another piece of water.