Firearm hunting season to begin

November 23, 2007|By Capital News Service

Wildlife officials expect deer kills to be about average during the firearm season that begins tomorrow, traditionally one of the busiest hunting days of the year.

Bow and muzzleloader deer kills this year were down 19 percent from last year for a variety of reasons, but Brian Eyler, deer project leader at the Department of Natural Resources, said he expects that to turn around during the firearm season, which runs through Dec. 8.

That's already happening, some hunters reported. The season "started out a little bit slower than average but looks to be pretty good," said Randy Roof of Chesapeake Outdoors on Kent Island. "There have been a lot of pretty good deer pictures being brought in."

An above-average outbreak of hemorrhagic disease also took its toll on deer this year in parts of the state, particularly in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, Eyler said.

Roof said that while there were cases of diseased deer on the Eastern Shore earlier in the year, there have not been any reports of the "blue tongue disease" recently.

Combine that with favorable weather, and the harvest could improve in the firearm season, Eyler said. He said that opening weekend for firearms can bring in more deer than the entire early season, especially this year, when some hunters have waited until later in the season to avoid the unseasonably warm weather.

A typical opening weekend brings in 13,000 to 14,000 deer, Eyler said. Last year, the total number of deer killed during the firearm season was 49,805. Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties traditionally have high counts, and Eyler said he expects that will be the case again this year.

Rich Skeweris of Backbone Mountain Sport Shop in Garrett County said, "It ought to be a real good season." The chance of snow in the mountains this weekend would make the deer easier to spot and track, he said.

The Department of Natural Resources recommends that people going into the woods this busy hunting weekend wear bright orange clothing. While hunting is statistically one of the safest sports in the country and most injuries are self-inflicted, "you don't want to dress in brown-and-white and go running through the woods," Eyler said.

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