Northern Maine's Deer Herd

NoDeerHere

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More fuel for the fire. Just looked at Bishops in Jackman and they tagged 78 deer this year and only 8 were over 200 with the biggest 239 lbs.
 

Huntermc6

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Wow thats wild and what looks like a huge dip around '86. Anyone remember a really bad atretch of weather around then? I know spruce bud worm was a huge problem years back maybe that correlates with the '86 dip?

I also had a look around the google machine at forestry practices. Komatsus website has some interesting history on the development of the harvester here https://www.komatsuforest.com/about/history. The 70s had some models available but '84 appears to be the first year of a single grip model being available which appears is what pushed the market doors open. Not sure if there is any correlation to the shift in logging from predominatly cable skidders to harvesters but the dates align pretty well. Obviosuly correlation doesnt equal causation.
 

NorthMaine

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Wow thats wild and what looks like a huge dip around '86. Anyone remember a really bad atretch of weather around then? I know spruce bud worm was a huge problem years back maybe that correlates with the '86 dip?

I also had a look around the google machine at forestry practices. Komatsus website has some interesting history on the development of the harvester here https://www.komatsuforest.com/about/history. The 70s had some models available but '84 appears to be the first year of a single grip model being available which appears is what pushed the market doors open. Not sure if there is any correlation to the shift in logging from predominatly cable skidders to harvesters but the dates align pretty well. Obviosuly correlation doesnt equal causation.
I would say there is definitely a correlation in relation to logging practices. Mechanized logging really opened the door to productivity.
 

groundtender

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I would say there is definitely a correlation in relation to logging practices. Mechanized logging really opened the door to productivity.
I remember the ‘86 rifle season. Driving up 490 Rd you could see out either side for a very, very long ways in most places. Logging due to Spruce Budworm was going on 24 hrs a day. Add to that mid-3rd week there was a huge blizzard that dumped a ton of snow, like 24”, which definitely screws up getting around and completely screws up normal deer behavior.
 

Big D

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I remember the ‘86 rifle season. Driving up 490 Rd you could see out either side for a very, very long ways in most places. Logging due to Spruce Budworm was going on 24 hrs a day. Add to that mid-3rd week there was a huge blizzard that dumped a ton of snow, like 24”, which definitely screws up getting around and completely screws up normal deer behavior.
Try going out through that country now. It's an absolute jungle for miles. Still some deer that move through there but you can't see the bill of your hat in there. You could track one for a week and never see it.
 

Huntermc6

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I remember the ‘86 rifle season. Driving up 490 Rd you could see out either side for a very, very long ways in most places. Logging due to Spruce Budworm was going on 24 hrs a day. Add to that mid-3rd week there was a huge blizzard that dumped a ton of snow, like 24”, which definitely screws up getting around and completely screws up normal deer behavior.
Seems as though '86 was the tipping point with quite a few things going on all at once. Logging practices likely changing due to better equipment. Spruce budworm leading to clear cutting having to be done to combat that issue. Possibly a bad winter with deep snow. Thats likely something the North Woods will never recover from with respect to the deer herd.

Is historical tagging station data available for all stations?
 

Kingman Cruncher

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More fuel for the fire. Just looked at Bishops in Jackman and they tagged 78 deer this year and only 8 were over 200 with the biggest 239 lbs.
My friend shot the 239 and it wasn’t even shot in zone 8!

Everyone I have been talking to up there that I bump into shed hunting said it was almost impossible to find a big track this year. These are the guys hunting every day.
 

rustyg

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Big D

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My friend shot the 239 and it wasn’t even shot in zone 8!

Everyone I have been talking to up there that I bump into shed hunting said it was almost impossible to find a big track this year. These are the guys hunting every day.
That pretty much summed up our season and others I know. Some of them were up there for 3 weeks too. The total amount of combined miles on foot would be unbelievable.
 

JDK

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I hunted out of state this year and saw more deer and more big buck sign in one week than I did in October and November here.
 

NoDeerHere

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Okay, I sent an email to the biologist in Ashland, Me and this is his response.


Hi Kip, the decline of white-tailed deer in northern Maine has been noticed by many people for many years now. There were no deer in northern Maine when we had wolves, not even in central Maine really. Most people have forgotten this. We killed all the wolves by early 1900s, and for the next half century or more the deer spread throughout Maine, and caribou disappeared. Winters in northern Maine would always put deer at the edge of survival, and beyond in some years. By the mid-1950s, the deer biologist found overbrowsing of deer wintering areas (DWAs) in northern Maine, which did not bode well for the future, for we could not manage the deer herd at that time. When we got a winter predator back in the mid-1970s that is mostly coyote, but part wolf, it was too much for them. At the same time, river driving logging ended, the budworm hit, the road system was built, and clearcuts were massive, taking out much of the historic deer DWAs. The moose population exploded. If we had over 100,000 moose in the 1990s, that’s over 400,000 deer-units. The moose eat the deer food too. Now we harvest more moose than deer in northern Maine. These are largely insurmountable changes. We live, learn, and adapt.



So, why the decline of deer in northern ME: 1) hard winters, 2) historic overabundant deer, 3) new winter predator, 4) forest practice changes, 5) budworm salvage logging/loss of DWAs, 6) moose competition, 7) more forest practice changes, like very few hand crews, etc.. Winters 2008 and 2009 was the last big killer of deer in our western woods and towns. Based on our recent radio-collar study, the few deer that try to make it through winter in the big woods don’t do well due to predation and then starvation. Hope that helps. Shawn



Shawn P. Haskell

Regional Wildlife Biologist

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Ashland Regional Headquarters

P.O. Box 447

Ashland, Maine 04732-0447

207-435-3231 ext. 86872
 




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