Garrett County appears to have taken the lead in hunter success in the Maryland deer season with a bag of 1,729 deer on Saturday's opener. Incomplete totals rank Dorchester second with 1,057. Other totals are incomplete.
In both counties, the kill was off about 20 percent from 1989's record breaker, which is attributed to unseasonable temperatures. In Garrett County, a lack of tracking snow contributed to the lag. However, the Department of Natural Resources' deer chief Josh Sandt figures the hunt still will meet his prediction of 38,000 to 40,000 deer. "Things even out," he said.
Yesterday's balmy weather didn't help much, especially in Western Maryland where mountain hunters found temperatures edging into the mid-60s at midday.
However, deer just about everywhere appear slightly larger, with better racks. Mountain deer are considered the smallest in the state, but this year more than 40 percent of them top 100 pounds -- and one in four carries antlers of eight points or more.
Many Marylanders who scored moved on to Pennsylvania where the season opened yesterday to a large turnout, and good success. More than 150,000 deer are expected to be bagged in that two-week shoot.
Virginia's season is off to a torrid start with last year's record of 135,094 expected to be broken. Already game managers there are thinking of liberalizing regulations next year to keep the herd of nearly 600,000 in line with habitat.
Delaware announced another record breaker, with 3,756 whitetails taken, a 7 percent increase from last year.