Maryland Deer Hunters See Increased Firearm Season Harvest
Maryland deer hunters experienced a range of weather for the two-week firearm season and harvested an estimated 41,421 deer ─ a 2 percent increase from last year’s harvest of 40,694 deer for the same period. This year’s total included 14,302 antlered deer and 27,119 antlerless deer. Sika deer totals were 455 antlered and 549 antlerless.
“Nearly half of the annual deer harvest occurs during this two-week period and a large portion of the harvest consists of female deer,” said Brian Eyler, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deer project leader. “Harvesting a sufficient number of female deer is a critical part of our deer management plan.”
Region A deer hunters (Garrett, Allegany, and western Washington counties) reported 4,960 deer for the two-week season, up 12 percent from last year’s harvest of 4,422 deer. The antlered harvest increased 12 percent from 2,528 deer last year to 2,830 deer this year, while the antlerless harvest increased 13 percent from 1,894 deer to 2,130 deer.
The Region B deer harvest of 36,461 deer was similar to last year’s harvest of 36,272 deer. The antlered harvest increased 4 percent ─ from 11,077 deer last year to 11,472 deer this year. The antlerless total decreased about 1 percent ─ from 25,195 deer last year to 24,989 deer this year.
Deer hunters harvested 3,952 deer (1,467 antlered, 2,485 antlerless) on Sundays during the two-week season. Deer hunting is currently permitted on the first Sunday of the two-week firearm season in all counties, except Baltimore, Howard, and Prince George’s. Sunday deer hunting is also permitted on the second Sunday of the two-week season in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties. Carroll County deer hunters took advantage of new legislation that permitted Sunday hunting for the first time this year and harvested 298 deer for the day.
Junior deer hunters enjoyed a weekend-long firearm season in most counties and harvested an estimated 3,014 deer. The official Junior Firearm Deer Hunt traditionally had been a Saturday event, but legislation passed last year expanded the hunt to Saturday and Sunday in 20 of the 23 Maryland counties. The extra day of hunting resulted in a record harvest, which was up approximately 47 percent from last year’s 2,053 deer. Included in the total were 1,754 antlered deer and 1,260 antlerless deer.
“Junior hunters are the future of deer hunting and effective deer management in Maryland,” said Eyler. “Without deer hunters, conflicts between deer and humans would continue to grow. Special seasons such as the junior firearm weekend are invaluable in recruiting and keeping the interest of younger hunters.”
Junior hunters are reminded they may obtain an official DNR Junior Hunter certificate for the deer they harvest this year. The certificates are available from participating retail agents. Junior hunters can also have their picture posted on the DNR website at dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/yh_certprogram.asp.
Maryland’s two-week late muzzleloader season opens Saturday, December 17 and closes on December 31, 2011.
New this year, a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Area (land code 233) has been established in a portion of Allegany County with regulations designed to prevent the unintentional spread of CWD to other locations. Hunters wanting more information regarding CWD and the regulations pertaining to the Disease Management Area should visit dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/disease/cwdinformation.asp or consult the 2011-2012 Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping.
Hunters are urged to carefully inspect all treestands before using them. A full-body safety harness should be used while climbing into or out of a treestand and while in the stand. DNR strongly recommends using a sliding knot, commonly known as a prussic knot, attached to a line that is secured above the stand that allows the hunter to be safely tethered to the tree as soon as they leave the ground. For more information on treestand safety and view a helpful video visit dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/ts.asp
Complete bag limits, season dates, deer registration procedures and other deer hunting information can be found at dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide. The 2011-2012 Maryland Guide to Hunting & Trapping issued with each hunting license contains detailed information on all of Maryland’s hunting seasons.