2nd deer week might be less than hoped Check-in stations not overwhelmed


December 13, 1992|By PETER BAKER **TC

Maryland's first two-week firearms season for deer ended yesterday after one week of generally good hunting conditions and a second week of less than optimal conditions.

Previously, the Department of Natural Resources announced that the opening-day kill (15,561) was the second highest on record and almost 3,000 more than opening day last year.

The record for opening day was set in 1989, when an early snowfall covered much of the state and 17,834 deer were checked in.

Statistics for the remainder of the firearms season will not be available for several days at least, but according to interviews with staff at check-in stations in several areas of the state Friday, the two-week season might not have been a bang-up success.

"We are about 70 below last year," said Roger Shaffer of Shaffer's in Oldtown, Allegany County. "They [hunters] just seem like they are not getting the deer up this year for some reason.

"I think a lot of guys are sitting in tree stands and, of course, the deer are just lying around, too."

Shaffer said that 324 deer had been checked in at his weigh station. Allegany County was the most productive county on opening day, but also is, with Garrett County, an area where buck and doe hunting was restricted by DNR.

"I'd like for them to have it turned around the other way," Shaffer said, "with bucks only the first week and then buck and doe the second week."

Shaffer reasons that a bucks-only first week would have kept more hunters in the field longer.

Pal Skeweris, of Backbone Mountain Sport Shop in Red House, Garrett County, said the deer kill is down about 150 from last season in his area.

"There aren't the deer they [DNR] are advertising that they got," Skeweris said. "We drove around the other day, me and my son -- we were in the backwoods in a Jeep with four-wheel drive -- and I'd say we covered 900 acres.

"You know where you drive through and look through the clear cuts and everything, and the deer just are not in there. We seen six or seven deer the whole day."

Of course, in Skeweris' part of Maryland -- the headwaters of the Potomac, Fairfax Stone and the highest point in the state -- there also were 27 inches of snow on the ground and another eight inches were forecast for Friday night.

John Riess of the Keystone Country Store in Hagerstown, Washington County, said the kill at his station is up perhaps 20 percent over last year.

Riess also said that most of the deer checked in were bucks, even though his store is in an antlered or antlerless zone. The biggest buck checked in there was 150 pounds and nine points.

Robert Boyer, owner of Harvey's General Store in Taneytown, said the two-week season won't work in Carroll County.

"Last year you had foul weather. It rained every day, and you had doe hunting by permit only," Boyer said. "This year you had excellent hunting weather from Saturday to Saturday the first week, you had the season totally open, and the kill was down for me.

"I have been one of the largest check-in stations for the county for the last couple of years. Last year I was at 630. This year I was at 607. The deer aren't out there like DNR seems to think they are."

Boyer said that since bow season started three months ago, he has heard hunters say that the deer aren't there in numbers.

"We already have called DNR, and we have quit as a check-in station as of this year," Boyer said. "They just don't know how to [manage the deer herd]."

Marty Lieberman of Marty's Sporting Goods in Edgewater, Anne Arundel County, said his statistics are up a little bit from last year.

"Of course, the weather hasn't helped any the last couple of days," he said. "Last Saturday [Dec. 5] kept it down because of the wind, and then the last few days, because of the rain, is going to cut it way down."

Lieberman said he endorses the two-week season because he feels it will help thin the state's deer herd, which numbers between 160,000 and 200,000.

"Two weeks has been needed for a long time," he said. "But you can't kill only the bucks and think you are going to thin the herd."

Lieberman said that for firearms season he was up 23 from last year.

At the Bay Pro Shop in Dunkirk, Calvert County, Darrell Noyes said his check-ins were running just a little ahead of last year.

"Which shouldn't be the case, considering they have had an extra four or five days," Noyes said. "All in all, I figure the kill will be up but only about 30 percent."

In Cecil County, said Frank Slavin, owner of F. P. Slavin Market in Cecilton: "We don't seem to be doing as well as last year. Hunters down here tell me the deer aren't moving."

In his best year, Slavin said, some 400 deer were checked in on opening day.

"But the first day this year, we only checked in 200, which is less than normal," Slavin said. "I think that right now we have 520 or 530 checked total, and I usually did that when there was only one week."

Pete Valentine of Accokeek Sports in Waldorf, Charles County, said his check-ins have been up, despite the abnormal weather.

"This year we have checked in more large deer than we have ever done," Valentine said, adding that most of the larger deer have been between 160 and 220 pounds. "But we had one brought in that was just a little over 260 pounds. A huge deer."

DNR projections, as of early last week, still were for a total kill between 47,000 and 50,000.

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