October 31, 2010

It's not like the deer old days

The decreasing deer herd up north has forced a break from the past as sporting camps go for new breeds.

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The Libby Camps on Millinocket Lake outside Ashland is now run by Matt and Jess Libby, left, the latest generation in the family to operate the 120-year-old sporting camp. Their deer hunting business has declined, so they now cater to more fly fishermen and bird hunters.

Photo by Deirdre Fleming/Staff Writer

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Matt Libby Jr. and his wife, Jess, are the fifth-generation owners of the Libby camps located in the North Maine Woods outside Ashland. They say the camp used to see as many as 80 deer hunters in the fall, but that number has dropped in recent years.

Photo by Deirdre Fleming/Staff Writer

Additional Photos Below

When the Master Maine Guide drives along the Allagash and St. John rivers in the winter, he sees people feeding deer, drawing them to busy roads where the hungry animals get hit.

And new logging roads in the woods drive up predation on deer, Lizotte said.

He pulls out a map showing new logging roads that have gone in around deer yards, making easy travel for coyotes.

Historic deer yards are protected by the state. These are the areas deer seek protection in deep snow.

But as the landscape changes, Lizotte has seen deer driven from these protective yards.

Years ago, Lizotte began catering more to canoeists in the summer as well as bear and bird hunters in the fall. These activities helped Allagash Guide Service stay in business after the deer hunting dropped.

An increasing bear population helped, Lizotte said. But as the forestland and its mix of wildlife changes sporting camps must change too, he said.

"To some extent we didn't have any warning. But if you're smart enough to look at the (changing forestland) it's writing that's been on the wall," Lizotte said.


Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:



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Additional Photos

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Maine hunting guide Sean Lizotte points to a logging road recently built in the forest near his sporting camps in Allagash. He said the road was built near a deer wintering yard and along a deer path, and will make whitetail deer in the areas more vulnerable to coyotes.

Photo by Deirdre Fleming/Staff Writer

click image to enlarge

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