Rifle, shotgun hunters set to bag bunch of deer


November 23, 1997|By Lonny Weaver | Lonny Weaver,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Maryland archers have been in their tree stands since September, and black-powder rifle fans took to the wood lots late last month, but for the vast majority of hunters, the real deer season begins Saturday. That is when the two-week traditional modern firearms hunt kicks off.

Last year, Carroll County rifle and shotgun hunters bagged a record-setting 1,668 whitetails during this hunt, and I look for a bag tally approaching 1,850 by the time the hunt terminates on Dec. 13.

However, look for a bit of a drop in opening-day success, because this year, Carroll deer hunters are limited to an antlered buck only from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6. Only from Dec. 8-13 will county hunters be allowed a choice of shooting a buck or doe.

Last year in this county, rifle hunters bagged 1,076 bucks and 592 does.

Hunters also are reminded that new regulations provide that no more than one antlered whitetail may be taken within the combined total firearms season bag limit for the rest of the state.

This regulation, said Josh Sandt, department of Natural Resources Wildlife management chief, was enacted to encourage hunters to harvest antlerless deer in those counties with increasing deer populations.

Carroll's deer herd appears to be stabilizing, and thus, the special regulations noted above.

I cannot help but marvel at the numbers of deer bagged these days.

When I began covering the Carroll County outdoors beat 17 years ago, only 268 bucks were taken during the then-weeklong hunt -- and that was a record-buster!

Today, area hunters are expected to surpass that number before noon on the first day. Just last year, bow, rifle and muzzleloader deer hunters bagged 2,884 whitetails in Carroll County, while the statewide tally was a record-setting 61,735.

And last year's numbers fell short of expected bags because of rain and fog for more than half the hunt's length.

This modern rifle and shotgun hunt is the most popular hunting season in Maryland these days.

That's a big change, too.

Previously, squirrel and rabbit seasons grabbed the attention of most hunters, with deer being viewed more as an excuse to get away to a Western Maryland or Eastern Shore deer camp with the boys for a long weekend comprised more of good cheer and card games than actual hunting.

Today, few hunters travel far from home to participate.

DNR claims an estimated 100,000 hunters will be afield, or something on the order of nine out of every 10 licensed hunters in the state.

Statewide, DNR figures claim that seven out of 10 deer hunters use private land for deer hunting, but here, in Carroll County, practically all deer bagged come from private lands.

That's a mixed blessing, in that hunting opportunities are often restricted to friends and families of landowners, and deer numbers tend to slingshot out of control. On the other hand, friends and family are less likely to wear out their welcome by shooting up the family pets and farm animals, to say nothing of mistakenly blasting each other.

If you find gaining permission to hunt deer is difficult, try next year making yourself known well in advance of the deer seasons.

I have written hundreds of times that summer woodchuck hunting is one of the very best ways to prove to a landowner that you are a responsible hunter.

Except as noted above, not much in the way of regulations has changed.

You still need written permission to hunt on private property, and you must wear hunter-orange clothing. Remember that a field tag must be filled out and attached to the deer before moving it from the place of the kill and that you may field-dress the trophy, but not remove the head or hide or cut the meat up until it has been checked at a checking station.

Deer must be taken to a designated check station in the county where the animal was killed, or to an adjacent county. Carroll County has four such stations:

Manchester: C&C Taxidermy, Bachman Valley Road and Route 30.

Mount Airy: Gun Shack, 101 South Main St.

Union Bridge: The Gun Cellar, 4 South Main St.

Westminster: Bullock's Meats, Sykesville Road (Route 32).

Local trout meeting

Bob Lunsford, of the Maryland DNR Freshwater Fisheries unit, will give a presentation on Maryland Tailwater Fisheries to the Patapsco Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Bear Branch Nature Center at the Hashawha Environmental Center, Westminster.

Pub Date: 11/23/97

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