Maryland Deer Hunters Harvest Over 100,000
Deer Hunters in the state of Maryland harvested over 100,000 deer in a single season for the first time since modern deer management began in the early 1900's. The record 100,437 deer taken during the 2008-2009 deer season eclipsed the previous record of 94,114 deer set in 2002-2003 and is 9% higher than last year's harvest of 92,208 deer. Reaching this numerical milestone is consistent with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) goal to reduce or stabilize deer numbers in most of the state.
This year's antlered harvest increased 8% from 32,221 deer (898 sika deer) in 2007-2008 to 34,725 deer (1,076 sika deer). The antlerless harvest increased 10% from 59,987 deer (956 sika deer) last year to 65,712 deer (1,103 sika deer) this year.
"Hunting license sales increased slightly this year, but we believe the major factor for the record harvest was that hunters increased their efforts to put more venison in the freezer during these lean economic times," said DNR Deer Project Leader Brian Eyler. "The 10% increase in the antlerless harvest is great news and will aide us in managing deer numbers across the state."
In Deer Management Region A (Garrett and Allegany counties), hunters reported 9,876 deer this year, a 10% increase over the 9,004 deer taken last year. The antlered harvest of 5,367 deer this year was slightly higher than the 2007-2008 harvest of 5,208 deer, while the antlerless harvest of 4,509 deer was a 19% increase over last year's harvest of 3,796 deer. The large increase in the Region A antlerless harvest can be partially attributed to an additional day of antlerless firearm hunting on private lands beginning with the 2008-2009 season. The extra day for antlerless deer hunting was provided at the request of landowners in the region who wanted more opportunities to effectively manage deer numbers on their land.
The reported deer harvest in the remainder of the state (Region B) increased in most counties. Hunters in Region B reported taking 90,561 deer for the year. The antlered harvest of 29,358 deer was 9% higher than the 27,013 antlered deer taken last year, while the antlerless harvest also increased 9% from 56,191 deer last year to 61,203 deer this year. Washington County led the harvest totals for 2008-2009 with 9,227 deer, followed by Frederick County with 8,238 deer, and Baltimore County with 7,016 deer.
The deer harvest in Maryland's suburban counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's) also increased in 2008-2009. Hunters in these counties took an average of 15% more antlerless deer this year than in 2007-2008. In recent years, DNR has liberalized antlerless harvest regulations in these counties in an effort to address the impacts that high deer populations have had on Maryland's suburban landscape and residents.
"Controlling the deer population in the suburban areas of the state is a challenging task. Fortunately, Maryland's hunters have taken advantage of the liberalized antlerless deer hunting opportunities in these areas" said Wildlife and Heritage Service Acting Director Jonathan McKnight. "Without their efforts, deer management in the suburban areas would be much more difficult."