For the Fall season, Maine hunters broke a 60-plus year record in the amount of deer they took. According to reports, hunters in the state tagged over 42,000 deer. However, that number is expected to grow as archery and muzzleloader season continues until Dec. 10.
Deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Nathan Bieber, said that before this season, the highest deer harvest was set in 1959. That year, Maine hunters harvested 41,735 deer.
“It’s just one of those benchmark numbers that you haven’t seen a lot historically. Any time you are pushing the boundaries, and you are breaking records, it is always worth noting,” Bieber said about the new numbers. “I think it’s a good talking point that gets people excited about the season.”
In the last five years, experts have revealed that deer harvests have only reached the mid to low 30,000s.
According to Bieber, the increase in kills can be attributed to a new permit update. For the 2022 season, Maine hunters were allowed to take a doe and then keep hunting bucks.
While the statistic is unprecedented, it’s not just about the sport of hunting. Bieber notes that there are several reasons why maintaining a healthy deer population is good for the environment.
“It’s all about trying to improve our precision … not necessarily take more does every year, here and into the future,” he said.
Bieber notes that hunting deer can be a necessary and valuable tool for keeping other deer, our environment, and residents thriving.
Maine hunters prove to be a vital component in controlling deer populations
“We want our deer to be healthy deer. We don’t want malnourished deer that are not reaching their true potential in terms of growth and reproductive capability,” Bieber said.
For other people like Bieber, the primary goal is to control doe populations in specific regions. As a result, this will ensure the deer population stays flourishing. But, according to Bieber, does act as the “engines” moving the needle when it comes to population.
In addition, the goal of the new permit rule was to decrease the number of does in different regions of Maine. After the state saw a new record statistic, officials may make changes and updates for next season, pending doe populations.
The primary instrument hunting officials have for preserving healthy doe populations is hunters. Per Bieber, the large number of deer keeps them excited to hunt and, in return, helps maintain healthy populations.
While large deer harvests help reduce the negative impacts deer can have on an ecosystem, ultimately, it involves serval other factors.
“I think the really big controlling thing that regulates deer numbers are things like year-to-year weather patterns, long term climate changes, changes in land use practices, the really big forces like that,” he added.