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Factors point to bountiful deer season

December 01, 1996

By BILL ANDERSON

Staff Correspondent

With Maryland deer hunters off in the woods for regular firearms season, the state Department of Natural Resources has released figures indicating mixed results for bow, early muzzleloader and the special youth seasons.

All signs, however, seem to point toward another excellent firearms season.

One relatively new opportunity for Maryland hunters is the three-day muzzleloader season, held in October. This season, the third, the harvest was down 14 percent, to 3,940. Bad weather is being blamed for the diminished harvest.

The news was better in the early part of bow season. Hunters bagged 4,613 deer in the first four weeks of the season, up five percent from the same period last fall.

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The Youth Firearms Hunt, a special one-day season for young hunters, yielded 1,355 deer, up 32 percent from the inaugural season last fall.

The DNR also has compiled some interesting data on hunter participation in the state. Maryland hunters spend 121 percent more time bow hunting than they did 10 years ago, with the average bow hunter spending 20 days at the sport.

Muzzleloader interest is also up. Hunters now spend an average of eight days hunting, more than double the time they spent in 1993.

Maryland hunters also hunt more during the regular firearms season. The DNR reports that deer hunters spend 74 percent more total time hunting than they did 10 years ago. Firearms hunters spend an average of seven days hunting deer.

Changes in W.Va.

Although emphasis remains on West Virginia's two-week firearms season, which ends Dec. 7, there are some important changes for the upcoming antlerless and muzzleloader seasons.

As most hunters know or have heard, the antlerless season has been expanded to six days (Dec. 9-14) in 12 counties. You also may purchase additional Class N antlerless licenses in those counties, as well as in certain counties with a three-day antlerless season (Dec. 12-14).

Some counties also will allow you to hunt with unused Class RG/RRG licenses during the antlerless season.

As most hunters know, the deer regulations are becoming rather complex as managers strive to manage the herd county by county.

If you haven't already, you should pick up a copy of "1996 Whitetailed Deer Hunting Seasons," a 16-page brochure published by the West Virginia DNR. There will be plenty of deer hunting left after the two-week bucks season closes Dec. 7.

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