Early snow good sign for deer hunters

ON THE OUTDOORS

November 19, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Department of Natural Resorces Deer firearms season SUN STAFF

The two-week firearms season for deer opens Saturday, and based on projections from the ongoing bow season and the early, three-day muzzleloader season, prospects are good for hunters across the state. They are especially promising in Western Maryland, which holds the largest tracts of public hunting lands.

"Right now out here in Allegany and Garrett counties, we are in the middle of the rut," said Tom Mathews of DNR's forest game program. "We have a good mast crop, so there is plenty of food available for the deer, and traditionally, when we have snow cover on opening day, hunters do very well."

The northeaster of last week caused unusually heavy snow to fall west of Cumberland, and with the long-range forecast for high temperatures in the 40s and including the possibility of another northeaster, it is likely that many areas will be snow-covered on opening day.

"This is very much an oddity," Mathews said. "I have lived out here all my life and never remember this much snow on the ground this early."

For hunters, the two major advantages of snow cover this early in the season are the good sighting background it provides and its casting of deer tracks. Later in the season, when snows have accumulated and the weather has worsened, deer will move winter range and gather.

"But I don't see deer moving this early in the season to winter range or yarding up," Mathews said.

Mathews said preliminary figures for bow season kills through Oct. 15 are up from 4,100 last year to 4,391 this year.

The preliminary counts from the three-day muzzleloader hunt in late October showed an increase to 4,589 from 3,872 a year ago.

"To a degree, the increased muzzleloader counts are because ** there were more hunters in the field this year than last," Mathews said. "But I think that works in combination with an increased deer population."

Washington, Garrett and Allegany counties showed the largest increases in number of deer taken during the early muzzleloader season, with increases of 146, 99 and 94 deer. Overall, deer kills increased in 19 of 23 counties.

During the first month of bow season, Allegany (plus 194), Garrett (plus 33) and Washington (plus 38) counties were among the top six in counties with increased bow kills. Prince George's increased by 40, Carroll by 39 and Queen Anne's by 33. Overall, 14 of 23 counties increased their takes.

"In some parts of the state, the population is still growing," Mathews said. "But up in Allegany and Garrett counties, I don't think that is still true overall."

However, changes in antlerless permit regulations last year apparently have contributed to what should be a very good firearms season in Allegany and Garrett counties this year, Mathews said.

"Where normally we target the antlerless harvest for bow, muzzleloader and firearms in total to be 30 to 40 percent, last year it was closer to 20 percent," Mathews said. "That seems to have resulted in more deer carrying over to this year."

DNR increased the number of antlerless permits available this year to 6,585 and received 14,364 applications. Mathews said the permits increase in permit allocation was about 50 percent.

Mathews said the increase in antlerless permits for this year may account for "a couple of more hundred" deer kills, but should not have an adverse impact on the deer population in counties or zones where antlerless permits are required.

Preliminary bowhunting, muzzleloader counts

The following represents a two-year comparison of the kill of deer in Maryland for the first month of the bow season, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and for the three-day early muzzleloader season, from Oct. 19-21. Figures are preliminary counts.

County

Allegany

Bow season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... Pct.

309 .. .. .. 503 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +194 ... +63

Muzzleloader season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

262 .. .. .. 356 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +94 ... ... +36

Anne Arundel

Bow season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

143 .. .. .. 164 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +21 ... ... +15

Muzzleloader season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

119 .. .. .. 140 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +21 ... ... +18

Baltimore

Bow season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

309 .. .. .. 324 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +15 ... ... +5

Muzzleloader season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

216 .. .. .. 268 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +52 ... ... +24

Calvert

Bow season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

57 ... .. .. 68 ... .. .. .. ... ... ... +11 ... ... +19

Muzzleloader season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

65 .. .. ... 73 ... .. .. .. ... ... ... +8 .. .. .. +12

Caroline

Bow season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

49 ... .. .. 53 ... .. .. .. ... ... ... +4 .. .. .. +8

Muzzleloader season

1994 ... ... 1995 ... ... Difference ... Nos. ... .. Pct.

75 ... .. .. 117 .. .. .. .. ... ... ... +42 ... ... +56

Carroll

Bow season

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