The Northwoods Sporting Journal received 59 responses to its recent deer hunter survey. These responses have been collated and are reported below. Although the statistical validity of this survey may not comply with scientific protocols, it does lend some anecdotal insights into what Maine deer hunters are thinking and doing when it comes to any-deer permits and the harvesting of does.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

For me, the two most striking takeaways are:

• The average time that Maine deer hunters, who responded to the survey, have been hunting is 47.5 years. We are an aging demographic.

• While almost half of the respondents agree that the any-deer permit system works to control deer numbers, a large percentage of those who don’t indicated a lack of knowledge, confusion or uncertainty about the any-deer permit system and how it works.

Meat hunters or trophy hunters? Among those who responded to this question, an overwhelming majority indicated that they hunted for the meat foremost, not the antlers. In fact, only 14 of 59 said that they were trophy hunters. I expected a larger portion of the sample to be big-buck trophy hunters.

If you look closely, though, there is a contradiction. If the clear majority are self-confessed meat hunters, why does that same majority indicate that they hold out for a buck until the last week of the hunt?

Interestingly, the majority of the respondents indicate that they DON’T apply for second and third choices for hunting zones. Perhaps the Department needs to revisit this option in the any-deer permit applications.

Those who didn’t care for the any-deer permit system were invited to offer other ideas, and there were a number of different suggestions, as indicated below.

Finally, responses to the age-old question, “Why do you hunt?” were all indicative of how most Maine deer hunters simply love the hunt, and that the passion runs deep. Common threads are solitude, exercise, camaraderie and healthy meat.

Here are the results of the deer hunter survey:

• 1. How many years have you been deer hunting in Maine? Average of 47.5 years.

• 2. Do you apply each year for an Any-Deer (doe) Permit? Yes: 46; no: 9.

• 3. If you draw a doe permit, do you still hold out for a buck? Yes: 13; no 43.

If so, how long? Last week of season.

• 4. If deer numbers are down after a tough winter, are you more likely to use your doe permit early in the season? Yes: 14; no: 41.

• 5. Do you consider yourself a meat hunter or trophy hunter? Meat: 41; trophy: 8.

• 6. Do you believe that the any-deer permit lottery is the most effective way to manage deer numbers? Yes: 31; no: 24 (those not sure counted as “no”).

• 7. If you answered “no” to the above question, what do you think would be a better system? A number of answers: Point system for bucks; shoot does during even-number years; have no harvest years by districts; issue both buck and doe permits, like the moose season; doe permits to landowners; require harvesting a doe to receive buck permit.

• 8. When you apply for an any-deer permit, do you fill out the other second and third choices for hunting zones? Yes: 25; no: 30.

• 9. Would you continue to hunt in Maine if you were required to tag a doe before legally hunting a buck? Yes: 49; no: 6.

• 10. Why do you hunt? Several answers: Meat, solitude, exercise, friendships, love to hunt, family.

If you missed a chance to respond to the survey, or have some thoughts that you’d like to share, please email me at [email protected]

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.net.


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