Bob Bastey, owner of Bob’s Kozy Korner Store in Orrington, celebrates with Thomas Pelkey, 10, and congratulates him on the deer he shot on youth hunting day, Oct. 20, 2018. At left is his father Donald Pelkey and at right is Lee Kantar, DIFW moose biologist. Credit: Linda Coan O'Cresik

The regular firearms season on deer ended a half-hour after sunset on Saturday, and the state’s hunters are having a banner year, with more hunting left to come.

According to state deer biologist Nathan Bieber of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, hunters had registered 30,299 deer as of 7:30 a.m. Monday. The last time hunters shot more than 30,000 deer in Maine was in 2004, when 30,926 deer were registered.

“Muzzleloader [season] could be another 750 to 1,000 or so,” Bieber said in an email.

From 2000 through 2017, the state’s deer harvest has averaged 26,010 animals per year, with a low of 18,092 in 2009 and a high of 38,153 in 2002, according to a compilation of data provided by DIF&W.

The higher-than-normal harvest shouldn’t come as a surprise: This year the state also issued the most any-deer permits in its history, allowing hunters with those permits to take a deer of either gender.

[How a BDN editor shot the biggest buck of his life]

DIF&W issued 84,745 any-deer permits spread over 22 of the state’s 29 wildlife management districts across the state, an increase of 28 percent. Last year, there were 66,050 permits.

The wildlife department uses the any-deer permit system to manage the deer population. The department says, “the ability to adjust the state’s deer populations derives from the ability to increase, or decrease, the number of breeding does on the landscape. White-tailed deer are at the northern edge of their range in Maine, and winter severity is a limiting factor concerning population growth. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can manage population trends.”

Deer hunting continues throughout Maine for either one week or two, depending on Wildlife Management District, for muzzeloader season.

Maine’s deer harvest since 2000:

— 2018 (as of 7:30 a.m., Nov. 26): 30,299

2017: 27,233

2016: 23,512

2015: 20,325

2014: 22,490

2013: 24,217

2012: 21,365

2011: 18,839

2010: 20,063

2009: 18,092

2008: 21,062

2007: 28,885

2006: 29,918

2005: 28,148

2004: 30,926

2003: 30,313

2002: 38,153

2001: 27,769

2000: 36,885

Avatar photo

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...