November 21, 2014
IFW Hunting Report for November 21, 2014
Southern Lakes Region – Region A
“Hunters are seeing plenty of deer. Some hunters are being selective right now and passing on does or smaller bucks,” said IFW Wildlife Scott Lindsay. “Usually around now, we will start to see more of these hunters taking deer.”
Lindsay said that while numbers may be down a bit from last year as expected, hunters are still seeing good numbers of deer and good size ones as well.
“While there haven’t been any huge deer, we are seeing plenty of deer in the 200-210 pound range throughout our region,” said Lindsay. “We are even seeing some of these large deer in some of our more developed coastal towns.”
Pheasant season is still ongoing, with more releases of pheasants planned for the Bragdon site in Wells and Blackberry Hill area in Berwick. Hunters are reminded that a pheasant stamp is needed to hunt pheasants. For more information on the pheasant hunting program, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm.
Central and Midcoast Maine
In central Maine, many deer hunters continue to find success after some early season struggles with heavy snow.
“I know things are going well because I haven’t heard any complaints,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper.
Kemper said that some tagging stations and meat cutters are up from last year, and other areas are down. It has been an odd deer season, as some areas had upwards of 16 inches of snow early in the deer season.
“We had a slow start to the season, but since the snow has melted, things are coming along,” said Kemper. While most hunters enjoy a tracking snow, 16 inches of it was too much of a good thing.
Kemper said that while he has seen good numbers of deer, he has only seen a “smidgeon” of deer over 200 pounds so far. He expects that to change “as the rut is starting, and the bucks are chasing does.”
Waterfowl hunters in the area are also having success, with good wild rice crops at the Ruffingham Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Searsmont as well as other places.
Downeast, it seems like old times.
“Things are going well...Down along the coast, it’s like the old traditional deer season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.
Schaeffer said there seems to be a noticeable difference this year with more people driving around dressed in orange, and the occasional deer hanging in a successful hunter’s yard.
“The effort is very noticeable this year, mostly in the central and western part of Washington county,” said Schaeffer.
Already Schaeffer said he has seen a good crop of yearling deer and younger bucks.
“The younger aged deer are well-represented. If we get a continuation of some decent winters, coastal Washington County could be better than it has been in a long time,” said Schaeffer.
For the first two weeks of the season, Schaeffer noted that it was the best deer hunting conditions he has seen since 1988. He said there has been tracking snow for much of the season, cool weather, and more importantly, there hasn’t been a lot of warmth, wind and rain.
“Last Saturday was a fantastic day with the tracking snow,” he added.
Of note, Schaeffer recently saw on 234 pound buck, as well as a hefty 257 pound buck. He figures he might see a couple more of them before the season ends.
Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region
Seems to be business as usual in the western mountains regions of Maine.
“We’ve had good conditions as it is still cold, with snow through most of the region,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey. “We’ve had some great days to hunt, with some soft snow at times.”
Hulsey has been gathering biological data from harvested deer throughout the region. This gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd.
He’s gathered samples from private citizens with deer hanging on their property, meat cutters, taxidermists and others.
Hulsey will take note of the general condition of the deer, including fat content, and talk with hunters to find out more about what they are seeing, how hunters are faring, and other related info. In some cases, biologists will remove a gland to test for chronic wasting disease, and with freshly killed deer, may draw a blood sample to test for eastern equine encephalitis.
Checking harvested deer is invaluable as it provides both biological data with the deer, and anecdotal evidence concerning hunter effort and participation.
All this data is combined to give a clearer picture of the age structure and health of the deer herd, and gives the department the tools they need to manage the deer population.
Three-quarters of the way through deer season, there are some good signs in the Moosehead region.
“Things are pretty good. We are seeing more deer in the southern part of the region, and more deer in the northern part,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. Oddly enough, there have been fewer deer registered this year right in the Greenville area.
“I think hunters are seeing deer throughout the region, so they are traveling outside of Greenville because they are optimistic,” said Kane.
Conditions are good throughout the region, as there was snow from Monson north earlier this week. Hunters have been using it to locate where deer are already congregating, or to track a buck. Kane did mention that with the cold weather, it was a bit noisy in the woods.
For the next two weekends, Kane and other IFW personnel will be setting up a check station at the Greenville rest area where they will check between 20 and 30 deer on both Saturday and Sunday.
The biological data gathered gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd in the region. They also gather a lot of anecdotal data on what hunters are seeing not only for deer, but for moose and grouse as well.
“Deer season is going pretty well,” said IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron in the Penobscot region. “We are getting a lot of good reports of hunters seeing deer, both does and bucks.”
Caron thinks that deer in his region may have fared through the past winter a little better than initially believed. “The deer got a break when we had the thaw midwinter, and even though winter hung on into April, they did not burn as much fat.”
Throughout the region, all of the tagging stations appear to be doing fairly well.
“We had all that snow, and that tracking was good, which helped many hunters,” said Caron.
Caron noted that there was on monster buck killed last weekend. It was a 19 point, 254-pound buck shot in Prentiss. He also got reports of another 200 pounder that was shot in Stacyville. The condition of the deer that Caron has seen are good, with plenty of fat, as it was a decent year for apples and acorns where they appear in the region.
If you have already tagged out with your deer, Caron says that the duck hunting has been very good this year, with whistlers coming in heavy over the Penobscot, and mallards still around big time. Some ponds are skimming over, congregating birds for a bit, but they usually are opened up again by evening.
A mid-week snowfall left two to three inches of snow on the ground in most of the Aroostook region, and deer hunters in the area are doing well.
“Registration stations are having one of their better years up here,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “We may not be seeing the number of hunters that we have seen in years past, but the deer hunters up here are quite content, and the deer population still seems to be on the upswing.”
Hoppe expects the good hunting to continue, with the recent snow, and the deer beginning to move with the onset of the rut this past week.
Hoppe says he has seen quite a few crotch-horns and spike horns from hunters who have been hunting along the edges of fields and roads. He’s checked larger deer, and those are coming from hunters who are getting off the roads and deeper into the woods.
Bird season goes till the end of December and bird hunters are still finding success along hedgerows in the woods. There’s still fruit on many trees, said Hoppe, and birds seem to be all over the place. “We’ve had a very good bird year as well,” said Hoppe.
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333