AUGUSTA, Maine — Preliminary deer harvest numbers show an increase of 11 percent from the 2009 harvest with an initial tally of 20,063 deer taken by hunters, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said Friday.
“The winter of 2010 ranked as one of the mildest winters in the past 60 years, a stark contrast to the terrible back-to-back winters of 2008 and 2009,” according to deer biologist Lee Kantar of DIF&W. “The 2010 winter certainly provided a much-needed break to deer and explains much of the increase in the 2010 harvest.”
Regionally, increases were recorded across the northern tier of the state, including the Moosehead area and portions of western Maine. Many yearling bucks were big and sported multiple points on their racks. Of the entire yearling bucks measured by IF&W staff statewide, 67 percent were multibranched antler bucks, only a year-and-a-half old, and 33 percent were spikes. In addition, yearling buck weights were on average 6.6 pounds heavier in 2010 compared to 2009, which was a substantial increase of 6 percent. Heavier deer going into winter survive better through spring.
Youth hunters and modern firearms participants provided the bulk of the higher harvest, with the youth hunters having a 35 percent increase in success rate and the rifle hunters gaining a 15 percent increase in harvesting a deer.
”It is always encouraging to note the participation by our young hunters,” said DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “I also note that their success rate clearly indicates that they are better shots.”
Overall, hunters enjoyed an increase in buck hunting success but a decrease in the number of adult does taken. Hunters with any-deer permits in hand may have had additional opportunities to harvest a buck instead of doe and took the opportunity.
The annual deer projections that are calculated by department biologists in the late spring results from an analysis of mortality and reproductive rates, harvest trends, and any deer permit allocations to meet Wildlife Management District goals and objectives. For 2010, the department had projected a harvest of 20,918 for all WMDs. Thus, the statewide harvest was 4 percent less than projected.
In Maine, deer hunting contributes approximately $200 million annually to the economy, according to DIF&W estimates.