Hunters in Maine have established a new record for harvests in a deer season, according to a preliminary count on the state’s online database.

This fall’s total of 41,875 deer harvests so far tops the previous mark of 41,735 in 1959. The 2022 regular firearm season ended Saturday at dusk, but the deer hunt continues through the muzzleloader season, which ends Dec. 10.

This marks the second consecutive year of large deer harvests. Last year’s harvest of 38,947 was the most since 1968, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Deer harvested over the next two weeks will continue to be reported on IFW’s Big Game Harvest Dashboard.

Dale Austin of Turner parks his four-wheeler Monday after a day of deer hunting at Androscoggin Riverlands State Park in Turner. Austin said he saw a few does but chose to stay his course. “I’m waiting on a big buck,” said Austin, who has been hunting the Riverlands since the late 1980s. “Between my kids and I, we have pulled 30-40 deer out of here.” Firearms season ended Saturday, but those like Austin who hunt with a muzzleloader have an extended season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Maine has an estimated statewide deer herd of 320,000. But the densities of deer vary widely from as few as one or two deer per square mile in northern Maine to as many as 40 deer per square mile in parts of southern and central Maine.

In an effort to thin the deer herd in the southern half of the state, IFW introduced a new antlerless deer permit this fall that has enabled hunters to harvest a doe and a buck with one deer tag, rather than requiring them to choose either a doe or a buck, as with the former any-deer permit. In addition, for the first time hunters were able to purchase deer permits that were left over after the deer-permit lottery, at a cost of $12. 


The regions in Maine with the highest harvests historically are where the high deer densities coincide with high human populations, Maine Deer Biologist Nathan Bieber told the Portland Press Herald in October for a story on the state’s biggest deer-harvest towns

“The sweet spot is where there are a lot of people and a lot of deer,” Bieber said. “The archery hunt will not take a super-developed area up to a town with a high harvest.”

The archery and crossbow hunts – which are held in different areas of the state between Sept. 10 and Dec. 10 – account for a small fraction of the deer harvested in Maine, Bieber said, while the November regular firearm season makes up the bulk of the harvest. 

The state’s database shows the highest deer harvests so far in 2022 have occurred in Wildlife Management District 17, which covers the area between Madison and Bangor and north to Dover-Foxcroft, with 5,209 harvests registered. WMD 23, which covers the area between Augusta and Belfast and north to Newport, has registered 4,698 deer harvests.

The hunting districts that cover much of York and Cumberland counties (WMD 21 and 22) each recorded more than 3,000 deer harvested, as did the hunting district in the Midcoast (WMD 25) that runs from Georgetown to Northport. 

By comparison, the hunting districts north of Bangor all had about 100 or fewer deer harvested as of Monday.

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