It always pays to plan ahead ­ even in deer hunting. It seems a long way off, and whether you are a bow hunter or a gun hunter, the frosty mornings will be here before you know it.

Step one is to remind yourself that the deadline for submitting your application for the drawing of the Maine any-deer permits is fast approaching. You have until August 15th to submit an online application for a doe permit. If you prefer to make your application through the mail, you have only until July 25th! The burden is on you to obtain an application blank. NONE WILL BE MAILED TO YOU. Application forms are available online, or if you call the folks at IF&W ( 287 8000) they will mail you an application upon request.

There is no charge to get your name entered into the any-deer draw, but you must have an up-­to­-date Maine big game hunting license. Non­residents are eligible. Large landowners who keep their land open to other hunters are eligible for special any-deer permits. (Get details form the IF&W website: www.mefishwildlife.com.)

Of course, you need to decide ahead of time for which wildlife management district you would like an any-deer permit. A map of the WMDs is available on the IF&W website. The drawing for the doe permits will take place on September 9th.

The good news is that Maine’s deer herd seems to be recovering. Last fall’s deer harvest was 15 percent ahead of the previous year. The buck harvest seems to be improving as well. The not-so-good news is that, as a result of a harsh winter with prolonged cold and deep snow, state wildlife biologists are probably going to issue fewer any-deer permits this year as a way to compensate for an anticipated higher-­than-­average winter kill.

As to hunt preparation, it is never too early to start scouting. With everything greening up, this is the beginning of the unrelenting fattening up process for Maine’s whitetail population, a process that doesn’t end until the big freeze-up following the fall rut. With deer relaxed and moving about in an effort to satisfy their preference for a diverse diet, this is a good time to get a fix on deer habits and travel lanes.

My turkey hunt this spring wound up being mostly a deer­-scouting exercise. I was surprised, but delighted, to see quite a few deer and more signs than I ever expected after such a tough winter.

If you are a bow hunter, it’s not too early to begin sending some arrows to your practice target. If you bow hunt the expanded deer season, as I do, you need to start thinking about those potential hot spots and where best to locate your tree stands or ground blinds.

Incidentally, if you are an aspiring novice hunter, or have a friend or youngster that you’d like to”bring along” as a deer hunter, there is still time enough to get enrolled in a hunter safety course, which is a prerequisite for a Maine big game hunting license. A list of these courses is available on the IF&W website.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co­host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News­Talk Network (WVOM­FM 103.9, WQVM­FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e­mail address is [email protected] He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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