Despite a few incidents of hunters being shot this month, Maine’s firearms deer hunting season wound down Saturday with relatively few mishaps, according to a state official.
Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Friday that the firearms season for deer this year has been a relatively safe one. She said seven or eight hunters have been hurt, but that most of those incidents were hunters shooting themselves in the foot.
But wardens have been comparatively busy issuing citations for violations such as night hunting, not wearing orange safety clothing, illuminating fields and possession of firearms by a felon, Turcotte said.
She said because of the harsh winter last year, hunters themselves have not been as productive.
“There haven’t been any deer,” she said.
Reports have indicated that fewer deer are being tagged this year in northern Maine, where heavy snows last winter are believed to have resulted in an unusually high mortality rate for deer. DIFW officials anticipate that about 24,000 deer will be killed by hunters in Maine this season, which would be the lowest total in more than 20 years.
In 2007, hunters tagged 28,884 deer.
At approximately noon Saturday, several trucks with drivers wearing blaze orange came and went from the parking lot of the Otis General Store, but only one had a deer in the back.
Richard Perry of Owl’s Head said he shot a buck with a .270 rifle around 4 p.m. Friday on land he owns in Mariaville. He said it took him most of Friday evening to get the deer, which he estimated to weigh about 180 pounds, out of the woods.
“He’s an old fella,” Perry said to another hunter who came over to his truck to admire the buck. “He’s only got a few teeth on the bottom.”
Perry said that he also hunts by bow and muzzleloader, and so even though it took him until the second-to-last day of firearms season to get a deer, he has not been concerned about missing out this year.
A drywall contractor, he said some jobs have evaporated this fall due to the economy, leaving him more time to be in the woods.
“I wait all year to go hunting,” Perry said.
He was hesitant to guess whether he has seen fewer deer this year, however. He said his uncle owns several acres of land in South Thomaston but he had seen only one deer on his uncle’s land this fall.
“Just seeing them sometimes is luck,” Perry said.
Don Holt, owner of Otis General Store, said 36 deer have been tagged at his business this month, about the same number as last year. He said that approximate number has been consistent over the past several hunting seasons.
“That’s pretty close to the norm,” Holt said. “It might be down a little bit, but not much.”
He said he has not seen any decline in the number of hunters, which is good for his business.
“I’ve seen quite a few guys out there trying [to get a deer], especially today, the last day,” Holt said. “It helps, especially in this economy.”