AUGUSTA – For a change, people taking to the woods with firearms to hunt deer on opening day can expect favorable hunting conditions on Saturday, instead of the usual rain.

“In much of the state, they are forecasting high winds this week and some potential snowfall on the ground,” state wildlife biologist Lee Kantar stated in a Thursday report.

“This is setting up for excellent hunting conditions. In other words, leaves will be off the trees, cold temperatures will be setting in, and some areas may even have snow tracking conditions.”

Maine’s traditional 25-day firearms deer season opens on Saturday for Maine residents only and for nonresidents on Monday, Nov. 3. It ends on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Muzzleloader season starts in all wildlife management districts on Monday, Dec. 1, and ends on Saturday, Dec. 6, in districts 1-11, 14, 19, 27 and 28. Elsewhere, it continues until Saturday, Dec. 13.

The crossbow archery season coincides with modern firearms.

Kantar also offered tips.

Hunters, he said, should “keep in mind that good acorn crops in south-central Maine may hold deer in cover. Apple trees produced a lot of fruit this year and deer may key into these areas as well. Look for old orchards.”

This year’s harvest should be about 24,000 deer, which would be the lowest harvest since 1987, Kantar said.

The 20-year harvest average is 28,704, since the Any Deer Permit regulations went into effect. Last year, 28,884 deer were harvested.

An Any Deer permit allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex. By controlling the number of female deer in a population, the department can manage deer population trends. Any Deer permits are issued through a lottery.

“Last winter’s harsh weather conditions took their toll on the state’s deer population, and this reduced doe quota reflects the significant winter mortality rate that last year’s winter conditions had on deer populations throughout the state,” Kantar said.

To accomplish deer management objectives, the department set doe harvest quotas ranging from zero to 1,045 among Maine’s 29 wildlife management districts.

Kantar said the doe harvest quota this year is 6,280. That’s 28 percent below the 2007 doe harvest.

A total of 51,850 Any Deer permits were issued statewide this season.

This, coupled with the archery and youth seasons should result in a statewide harvest of 6,280 does and an additional 3,579 fawns, Kantar said.

Antlered buck harvests should be 14,355, down 11 percent from the 2007 buck harvest of 16,103.

This year, hunters must carry their permit number with them and report it to the registration station when tagging deer, because unlike in previous years, the department cut costs by not mailing out Any Deer permits this year.

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