Despite the growing popularity of deer hunting in the state, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has issued fewer deer hunting permits this year after a drop in the deer population because of last year’s rough winter.

Firearms season begins Saturday for Maine residents and Monday for nonresidents.

This year the department issued 28,770 any-deer permits, according to a news release Thursday from the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Any-deer permits allow a hunter to take does or anterless deer. That number is down from 37,185 any-deer permits last year, according to the department.

Deer hunting has grown in popularity in Maine, and the number of resident hunting licenses has increased each year since 2005, according to the release. The number of nonresident licenses also has increased in each of the last three years.

Last year, there were 224,039 licensed hunters in the state, and the department estimates that more than 160,000 licensed hunters hunt deer.

Hunting is how the department manages the deer population, and it also contributes more than $338 million annually to Maine’s economy, according to the release. Deer hunting alone contributes more than $100 million.

Maine’s deer population has rebounded in recent years following severe winters in 2008 and 2009, and the population is approximately 210,000, the release said. The reduction in permits this year will result in more breeding female deer remaining in the population, allowing the population to rebound more quickly from last year’s severe winter, the release said.

Last year, hunters killed 22,490 deer. Of those, 15,986 were bucks and 6,504 were antlerless deer, which include does and bucks that have antlers of less than 3 inches.

Maine’s firearm season for deer continues to be the most popular with 18,510 deer killed by hunters in 2014. Maine’s archery season accounted for 2,086 deer, muzzleloaders took 1,064 deer, and on youth day, 810 young hunters were successful, the release said.

Maine’s deer season is divided into several seasons. The firearms season for deer opens Saturday for residents and Monday for nonresidents. The firearms season for deer concludes on Nov. 28. Muzzleloading season begins on Nov. 30 and runs for one week in northern and eastern Maine and for two weeks in southern and central Maine. The regular archery season extends from Oct. 1 through Oct. 30 with an expanded archery season open in select areas from Sept. 12 to Dec. 12.

More information on Maine’s deer hunting season and other hunting regulations is available at the department’s website at

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