Deer kill increases to a record 94,114

Antlerless take grows by 27 percent in attempt to control size of herd

Outdoors

March 26, 2003|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Maryland hunters killed a record number of deer this season and continued to increase their take of antlerless deer, encouraging signs in the state's campaign to reduce the burgeoning population.

Statistics released yesterday by the Department of Natural Resources put the total number of sika and white-tailed deer taken by bow, muzzleloaders and modern firearms at 94,114, up 12 percent over the 2001-02 season. Hunters bagged 54,072 antlerless deer and 40,042 antlered deer.

Six years ago, DNR began altering hunting regulations to try to control the deer population. The new rules allowed hunters to take more antlerless deer, reducing the number of does available to reproduce.

This season, the antlerless total rose 27 percent while the antlered total dropped 2.5 percent.

"We were downright excited about the numbers," said Paul Peditto, director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service. "We're starting to see a real shift in the hunting culture and a change in the traditional paradigm of shooting antlered deer."

But Peditto cautioned that the present regulations are probably not sufficient to keep the herd, estimated at 225,000, in check.

"We're reaching the saturation point on what a six-day hunting week can accomplish," he said. "There's a limit to the number of hours folks can spend hunting during the week and we have a limited number of Saturdays without creating conflicts with other outdoors users."

A bill to permit Sunday hunting on private land has been approved by the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. Last year, a Sunday hunting bill was approved by both chambers, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

The state's 84,000 hunters this season bagged 19,088 deer by bow, up 4 percent from last season; 23,736 by muzzleloader, up 2.7 percent; and 51,290 deer by modern firearms, up 21.2 percent.

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties had a 16 percent increase in total numbers. The five jurisdictions account for one-fifth of the state deer kill.

The top 10 counties are Frederick (8,578), Allegany (7,960), Washington (7,761), Garrett (6,782), Baltimore (5,857), Dorchester (4,818), Carroll (4,537), Montgomery (4,385), Kent (4,180) and Worcester (3,656).

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