First-day deer harvest of 16,449 highest in decade fTC

On The Outdoors

December 03, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Opening day of the firearms hunting season for deer produced the highest harvest numbers in a decade, according to preliminary counts released yesterday by the Department of Natural Resources.

"Expanded bag limits and abundant deer numbers combined to produce the excellent first day of deer hunting," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. "These harvest totals will assist in the goal of reducing Maryland's growing deer population."

According to DNR, hunters killed 16,449 deer on opening day last Saturday, a 29 percent increase from last year's 12,757.

DNR has implemented a new deer management plan this year with an emphasis on antlerless deer in all but the western counties of the state. Wildlife managers say that reducing the number of antlerless deer is the most effective method of population control.

The most significant opening-day increases over last year came in counties where hunters are encouraged to take antlerless deer.

Carroll County, where at least one of the total bag limit of two must be antlerless, was up 78 percent over last year.

While the basic bag limit is 1 deer across the state, hunters can buy bonus deer stamps to take additional deer.

In Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, where at least two of a possible four deer must be antlerless, the numbers were up from 8 to 49 percent.

Rick Stuart of Baltimore County Hardware in Reisterstown said 130 deer have been checked in since opening day and 58 have been antlerless.

"There definitely are more does and button bucks this year," said Stuart, who shot his first doe of the season Tuesday. "But there still is a built-in bias among hunters to shoot antlered deer.

"What we are seeing is people checking in a buck and buying bonus stamps so they can go get their two does and have a chance at another buck."

Under the new regulations, hunters who kill a buck first in all or parts of 19 counties must kill two antlerless deer before being eligible for a second antlered deer.

Reports from deer-check stations indicate that numbers of antlerless deer are generally up over last year, but DNR's preliminary count did not separate the early harvest.

An employee of J. D. Hunting Supplies in Parkton said yesterday the change in regulations will be counterproductive in his area.

"I think the biologists don't know what they are doing," said the check station weighmaster, who did not want his name used. "There is no overpopulation of deer around here.

"They're going to deplete deer from areas where hunters can hunt, while at Loch Raven and in areas where we can't hunt, the deer numbers will continue to go up."

In Anne Arundel County, where only 20 more deer were checked on opening day than last year, Charlie Ebersberger of Anglers Sport Center said: "We're still weighing in a lot of bucks. There haven't been that many does yet."

But, he said, many hunters are buying their limit of bonus stamps, intent on taking two does and having at least a chance at another buck.

Since Maryland went to a two-week season early this decade, the opening-day kill has accounted for 31 to 43 percent of the final firearms-season totals.

Firearms deer hunters account for approximately 60 percent of the deer killed during hunting seasons each year.

Opening-day count

The Department of Natural Resources yesterday released its preliminary counts for the opening day of deer firearms season. Totals were up in all counties except Charles.

County .. .. .. 1997 .. .. .. .. 1998 .. .. .. Diff.

Allegany .. .. 1,229 .. .. .. . 1,264 .. .. .. +35

Anne Arundel ... 249 .. .. .. ... 269 .. .. .. +20

Baltimore .. ... 470 .. .. .. ... 653 .. .. . +183

Calvert .. .. .. 342 .. .. .. ... 461 .. .. . +119

Caroline .. .. . 234 .. .. .. ... 355 .. .. . +121

Carroll .. .. .. 711 .. .. .. . 1,267 .. .. . +556

Cecil .. .. .. . 393 .. .. .. ... 506 .. .. . +113

Charles .. .. .. 664 .. .. .. ... 650 .. .. .. -14

Dorchester .. .. 776 .. .. .. ... 961 .. .. . +185

Frederick .. . 1,173 .. .. .. . 1,681 .. .. . +508

Garrett .. .. .. 958 .. .. .. . 1,147 .. .. . +189

Harford .. .. .. 313 .. .. .. ... 467 .. .. . +154

Howard .. .. ... 175 .. .. .. ... 221 .. .. .. +46

Kent .. .. .. .. 730 .. .. .. ... 993 .. .. . +263

Montgomery .. .. 393 .. .. .. ... 534 .. .. . +141

Pr. George's ... 194 .. .. .. ... 240 .. .. .. +46

Queen Anne's ... 516 .. .. .. ... 680 .. .. . +164

St. Mary's .. .. 451 .. .. .. ... 492 .. .. .. +41

Somerset .. .. . 348 .. .. .. ... 482 .. .. . +134

Talbot .. .. ... 436 .. .. .. ... 475 .. .. .. +39

Washington ... 1,101 .. .. .. . 1,451 .. .. . +350

Wicomico .. .. . 430 .. .. .. ... 573 .. .. . +143

Worcester .. ... 471 .. .. .. ... 627 .. .. . +156

Total .. .. . 12,757 .. .. ... 16,449 .. .. +3,692

Pub Date: 12/03/98

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