AUGUSTA – Nonresidents joining Maine’s monthlong deer hunt Monday may get the benefit of light snow to track their prey as the day goes on.
Weather forecasters said highs will reach only the 30s over much of the state and snow showers could begin by late morning, with accumulations possible in some places. Temperatures are expected to rise as the week goes on.
Saturday’s unseasonably cold and windy weather didn’t stop thousands of Mainers from taking to their woods for the one-day residents-only start of deer season.
A mild winter last year boosted the deer population in southern and central areas of Maine, according to state wildlife officials. Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists estimate there are 241,000 deer in Maine’s herd, up from 160,000 in 1986.
Biologist Gerry Lavigne estimates that the statewide deer kill this year will be 35,750, which compares with 27,769 last year and 36,885 the year before.
The snow made its appearance early in the Farmington area, where a dusting coated the ground Saturday as hunters set out in their search for whitetails. A sampling of a dozen central Maine tagging stations showed that hunters were having a successful opening day.
“It has been crazy. I can’t believe how many deer we’ve tagged … 26 deer before noontime,” said Diane Libby of Libby’s Variety Store in Benton. “And we’ve seen some big deer. We’ve had two separate albino deer, which is unusual. They were both bucks.”
The Country Store in Vassalboro said it tagged 42 deer Saturday morning, while the Corner Store in Palmyra tagged six. The Litchfield Store tagged nine by midday and the Skowhegan Fire Department, 10.
“We’re doing well. We’re tagging quite a few deer today. I’m doing the 11th one right now,” said Manchester Mainway cashier Christine McGee. The Corner Citgo Food Mart in Pittsfield tagged 13 deer Saturday morning, compared to only two on the first day last season, employee Frank Crosby said.