A deer pauses and checks out its surrounding in a field off Route 202 in Bangor on April 14. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Friday was a day of great excitement for many Maine deer hunters, and came with some disappointment for others.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife released the list of winners in its annual any-deer permit lottery, which allows hunters to harvest a doe (or a buck with antlers measuring less than 3 inches) during the 2021 season.

With a record 159,910 any-deer permits up for grabs, there were plenty of opportunities for hunters who will pursue whitetails in Maine this fall.

The state issued 130,781 resident hunting licenses in 2020, so with even a modest increase in hunting participation this year, there was essentially an antlerless permit available for everyone.

The reality is, those numbers don’t line up.

In applying for any-deer permits, hunters are asked to list their preference of three Wildlife Management Districts for which they would like to receive a permit, along with a couple of choices for bonus tags. Bonus permits are given in WMDs where more deer permits are available than applications are received.

The catch is, there are some districts with more than 20,000 available any-deer permits and others with only 25, or even none.

So if you were hoping for an any-deer permit in districts 10, 19, 11 or 28 — which had a combined total of 130 permits available — the odds were pretty slim.

On the other hand, folks who wanted to pursue antlerless deer in districts 23, 25, 21 and 22 — where each had more than 20,000 permits up for grabs — had a much greater likelihood of success.

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If you were lucky enough to get an any-deer permit, but drew one for a far-flung zone where you won’t be able to hunt easily, all is not lost.

DIF&W provides hunters with the opportunity to swap their any-deer permits with other successful applicants in the hope of making the process a little easier.

You can also transfer an antlerless permit to another hunter.

Here’s how it works: Those who won any-deer, junior, landowner, bonus or Superpack deer permits are allowed one swap or transfer per year. Swaps may only be made for similar kinds of permits, such as any-deer for another any-deer or landowner for another landowner permit.

Along the same lines, Maine residents can only swap permits with other resident hunters, and nonresidents must trade with another nonresident.

The onus falls on hunters to execute any changes as they must identify and contact potential swap candidates. Those seeking some assistance can utilize a paid, third-party service, DoeTagSwap.com.

DIF&W will provide a complete listing of all permit winners and their mailing addresses by calling InforME at 207-621-2600 or by sending an email to info@informe.org.

The Maine Deer Hunters Facebook page is another valuable resource for hunters in search of potential any-deer or bonus permit swaps.

Once a hunter has found someone with whom they can swap permits, that process must be completed online.

The fee is $7 and the deadline is midnight on Oct. 25.

So if you live in Bangor and you know hunting in Hollis isn’t an option, you have a fighting chance of finding another hunter who also is looking for something closer to their home hunting grounds.

Hunters are already actively pursuing people to swap with, so if you want to make a switch, start your search soon.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...