Below you’ll find the main reasons why harvesting more does in Maine is good for the deer herd, Maine deer hunters, and Mainers alike. This post addresses the new 2022 laws on increased doe harvests.
As far as I can remember Maine has been trying to restore deer populations back to a healthy level. In the past, hunters would shoot any deer they would see because deer hunting was so difficult. For this reason, numbers were dropping and regulations were in place to protect does so that the population would rebound (antlerless restrictions).
Now Maine has a lot of deer and a lot of does due to these regulations, so it was a success. However, the population has started to grow too much so more does need to be harvested. Additionally, the buck-to-doe ratio is very skewed. There are many benefits to shooting more does in Maine, and I list a few of the most important below:
Reduce Maine Overpopulation of Deer
Better Overall Herd Health
More food/nutrition per individual deer.
Bigger Maine Bucks
Better nutrition per deer means better buck antler development.
Reduce the Spread of Disease
With CWD and other whitetail diseases getting moving towards Maine, it will help slow the spread of diseases.
More Exciting Maine Deer Hunting
Healthy Maine Buck-to-Doe Ratio
Artificially created high doe numbers from hunting regulations (buck-only harvests) have resulted in an increase in overall Maine herd numbers. This was by design to increase the overall population. However, the population in Maine is doing well now and numbers can be restored to a more natural equal ratio by harvesting more does.
Better Maine Rut Hunting
More even buck-to-doe ratios means that bucks will have to compete for does more than in the past. This means bucks will be fighting and running around in search of does more than in the past during the rut phases. This will likely result in more exciting deer hunting.
I think the new regulations are great for the deer herd, Mainers, and Maine deer hunters alike. These new laws will have the biggest effect in more populated areas where deer are concentrated. In bigger timber, there is a more natural buck-to-doe ratio already, especially in the northern half of the state (which is why less does tags are issued up there).
Maine Antler Restrictions
To further improve better deer hunting in Maine, antler restrictions could be implemented. There is a lot of controversy on this topic because of the different styles of hunting in Maine, tracking on snow for example, where you don’t have the luxury to count the points on an antler.
However, I think antler restrictions in the southern parts of the state where snow almost never occurs during the season and the woods are small would improve deer hunting. Especially with the increase in hunting pressure in the south. These areas aren’t conducive to tracking anyway.
Antler restrictions in the southern portion of the state would again improve the buck-to-doe ratio, increase buck numbers, create better rut hunting, and increase the average age class of bucks.
That said, I personally enjoy the challenge of trying to find and hunt big bucks when APRs are not in place, but it’s something to ponder.
What are your thoughts?