Opening Day Preliminary Firearm Deer Harvest

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Maryland firearm deer hunters bagged an estimated 17,944 deer on the opening weekend of the Maryland Firearm Deer Season. Taking advantage of the newly refined liberal bag limits and excellent weather, hunters successfully surpassed last year’s opening Saturday harvest by approximately 3,000 deer --- nearly setting a new record for the single day harvest. The overall weekend harvest for Saturday and Sunday topped last year’s weekend preliminary total by 2,411 deer.

Proportionally, Saturday’s statewide preliminary total of 15,522 deer climbed by 23 percent over last year. The Sunday estimated harvest of 2,422 declined by 16 percent likely due to torrential rains across parts of Maryland on Sunday morning. For only the second time in Maryland history, Sunday hunting was offered but limited to private lands in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Talbot and Washington Counties.

As hunters may legally check deer taken in one county at a check station in an adjacent county, the preliminary harvest totals for each county are subject to change. The official harvest analysis will be conducted at the completion of all deer hunting seasons, using the final harvest figures.

“The first Saturday after Thanksgiving is the single best opportunity to impact our statewide deer herd,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) Director Paul A. Peditto. “Maryland’s hunters should be commended for embracing our new model that encourages removal of antlerless deer.”

Hunting remains the single most effective method of deer population control. Following the first deer hunt conducted at Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County, deer vehicle strikes on surrounding roadways were reduced by 50 percent. After five successive years of limited hunting, vehicle strikes on adjacent highways dropped by 92 percent.

“Deer hunters enjoy the challenge of hunting and the opportunity to share time afield with hunting partners --- often several generations of friends and family will take part in this great annual outdoor experience,” said Doug Hotton, WHS Deer Project Leader.

Successful hunters not only enjoy taking fresh venison home for their families but also because of liberal bag limits and a unique venison donation funding mechanism, are able to share their harvest with Maryland’s less fortunate. Last season Maryland hunters donated 60 tons, or nearly half a million meals, of venison to charitable groups through the Maryland Chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and their partnership with the WHS.

Deer hunting in Maryland is also a big business. Approximately $156 million is generated for local and state economies through the combined revenue sources of hunting license sales, retail sales and other expenses associated with deer hunter participation.

Visit the DNR website at www.dnr.maryland.gov to learn more about deer biology and management, hunting seasons and the role of hunting in modern deer management.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to Maryland citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 435,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, as well as Maryland’s wildlife and fishery species for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, the department manages natural, historic and cultural resources that attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland’s effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state’s number one environmental priority.