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Deer hunters anticipate big season

November 17, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Tri-State area hunters will have plenty of targets when deer season opens later this month, game officials said.

"Deer numbers are at one of the best levels in recent times. We're expecting an excellent, excellent season," said Doug Hotton, deer biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

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West Virginia's deer season begins Monday. Maryland's season starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Pennsylvania's starts Nov. 30.

The deer population was down in the early 1990s but bounced back after the state put more restrictions on hunting doe, Hotton said.

This year, Maryland and West Virginia want to keep the population growth in check by encouraging a larger doe kill.

West Virginia is counting on an influx of out-of-state hunters who arrive for buck season to increase the doe kill.

In Morgan County and 23 other counties in West Virginia, hunters will be allowed to bag a doe the first few days of buck season as long as they're hunting on private land, said Lt. Byron Chambers of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

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The traditional doe season doesn't begin until Dec. 7, he said.

Not only are the deer populations large, they're also well-fed by plenty of acorns on the ground this year.

"The deer hunters are having trouble finding the deer because they don't have to travel as far to feed," said Gary Packard, wildlife conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Finding deer hasn't been a problem for hunter Belinda Stahl, who has bagged two already this year. She killed a doe with her crossbow and a buck during early muzzle loader season.

"It seems like the easy winter has made the population pretty strong," said Stahl, who owns Keystone Sporting Goods in Hagerstown.

Stahl has heard some hunters complain that the state is thinning the herd too much by allowing more doe to be killed.

"You always hear that," said Kevin Jenkins, manager of the gun section at Sparks Sports Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.

On the other hand, hunters who use the deer meat to feed their families are eager to take as many deer as the state will allow, he said.

Maryland has complicated rules for how many buck or doe a person can bag depending on where they are hunting. In Washington County alone, there are two zones with two different rules.

Hotton said the rules are meant to provide more precise control over deer populations.

Fort Frederick State Park is trying to reduce the deer population there. On park land where hunting normally is banned, a select few hunters will be allowed to kill deer from Dec. 1 through 4.

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