The Department of Natural Resources is set to propose an Oct. 21-23 muzzleloader deer hunt in addition to the regular mid-December hunt already in place, said Wildlife Director Josh Sandt.
"We commissioned an independent survey of licensed hunters by Responsive Management, of Harrisonburg, Va., to get a positive feel for what Maryland deer hunters wanted. Fifty-seven percent of the 633 randomly selected hunters supported an early muzzleloader hunt. The survey also revealed that about 50 percent of the bowhunters also supported an early muzzleloader hunt," Sandt said.
"Also, we found no measurable difference in the results regardless of the region of the state being investigated. A full 82 percent wanted a three-day hunt and 53 percent supported an either-sex hunt."
Though some fine-tuning might take place in the final regulations, the present proposal would allow participants to take either a buck or doe during the three-day hunt. The successful hunter then would be allowed to bag a second deer during the late December hunt with the purchase of a Bonus Deer Stamp.
Sandt said that "we may limit the sex of the deer depending on the final condition of the deer herd in the various sections of the state."
Sandt, who at one time was responsible for the management of the state's deer program, also said that a regulation is under consideration that would require hunters opting to bag two deer under the bonus stamp provision, regardless of whether they are participating in the bow, muzzleloader or modern firearms hunt, to take one buck and one doe.
"This year's firearms deer kill was the third highest ever recorded in Maryland, but I'd be lying if I said that everyone was happy with the results," said Ed Golden, who is charged with managing Maryland's deer, turkey, grouse and bear populations.
"Western Maryland numbers were off and some people are upset about that. They believe that we have killed too many deer over the past few years. What's really happened, though, is that we have finally stabilized the herd in those far western counties.
"Also, we substantially reduced the number of doe permits in the western regions and that, combined with some truly lousy weather, held the numbers down."
Golden believes that when the final figures for the recently completed bow season are in the total bag for 1993 will be between 51,000 and 52,000.
In Carroll County, 2,795 deer were accounted for by the DNR. That figure includes 2,183 taken during the two-week modern firearms hunt, 257 bagged by muzzleloaders and 355 taken by bowhunters as of Oct. 30.
Carroll deer harvest numbers are the fifth highest in the state, bettered by Garrett's 3,684, Frederick's 3,465, the 3,440 registered by Washington County and Allegany's unofficial 3,368 whitetails.
DNR wildlife managers and biologists also report that 87 Canada geese were taken by county hunters during the state's first resident goose hunt in September.
Overall, 1,281 geese were bagged during the Sept. 7-15 hunt, which was limited to the 14 counties west of the Chesapeake Bay. Larry Hindman, the DNR's migratory bird project manager, said about half of the 2,176 permit holders participated in the hunt.
Hindman also reported that this year's annual waterfowl inventory was conducted Jan. 3-16. Highlights of this year's survey include notable increases in mallard, black duck and canvasback numbers as well as a substantial increase in Canada goose figures over those recorded during the same time last year. Canvasback numbers jumped by nearly 10,000 (46,700 compared to 37,700 found in 1993).
"We believe that 38 percent of the Canada geese wintering here this year are the result of last summer's superb hatch. Numbers were up everywhere we counted except for the Chester River. Also, hunter success in 1993 was 10 times higher than that recorded in 1992," Hindman said.
A new migratory bird regulation issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will require Maryland waterfowl, woodcock and dove hunters to have a permit beginning this year.
To get the permit, you will be required to answer four questions relating to what you plan on hunting, how many ducks, geese, doves, etc., you bagged last year and how often you hunt the various migratory game birds. The permit will be free and available any place you purchase a hunting license.