Tagging stations reported low numbers in the region Saturday, opening day of the deer season for Maine residents.

Tagging station owners in Franklin and Oxford counties were hopeful that their numbers would rise as it gets further into the season, even though there were fewer permits given this year.

A news release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife explained why the decrease is important to the longevity of hunting deer in the state. 

“Maine’s wildlife biologists monitor winter severity throughout the state from December through April to determine the impact that winter weather has on deer survival,” according to the release, “so to offset the effects of the winter, IF&W biologists decreased the amount of any-deer permits available to hunters this year.”

This year, 28,770 any-deer permits were issued, compared to 37,185 last year. The reduction in any-deer permits “will result in more breeding female deer remaining in the population, allowing the population to rebound more quickly,” according to the IF&W.

The firearms season for deer opens Monday for nonresidents and ends Nov. 28. 

Jack’s Trading Post in Farmington is a hot spot for tagging in Franklin, but as of 1 p.m. Saturday, the store had tagged only three deer. Owner Cheryl Wells said they usually see anywhere from eight to 15 the first day.

“There are still a lot of low leaves, which makes it harder to see,” Wells said. “They’re usually all gone by now.” The weather has been unseasonably warm and “hunters prefer the cold,” she said.

Storekeepers in Hebron had tagged two by 2:30 p.m., which owner Beth Frances said was pretty low. They usually see a dozen opening day. “Feed is up in the woods,” she said. “The herd is healthy, so they’re staying in the woods.” 

She added, “Hunting has quieted down some in the last 10 years. It’s not where it used to be (in popularity).”

Frances predicted that this will be a good season, though. “There’s been a good response from hunters saying they’ll be out hunting.” 

Tilton’s Market in Buckfield had the lowest tagging number: one by 3 p.m.

Owner Sandra Fickett said this is only her second season of owning the store and she wasn’t sure what kind of numbers to expect. Fickett didn’t think the conditions were good, though, and the deer are out there. 

“We have had a lot of bear and turkey tagged here,” she said. “We’ve had overall solid numbers this year.” 

She attributed the low tagging number to youth sports and Halloween. “Parents have to take their kids to soccer games and trick-or-treating; they’re busy.” 

But hunting season in Maine is extremely important, Fickett said. “Every year is a good year for hunting here. It’s such a way of life in this community. So many families depend on the harvest to feed their family.”


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