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Maryland firearms deer hunting season begins

November 30, 1999|By CANDICE BOSELY

When Hunter Paylor takes to the woods to hunt, a lot of things excite him. One task, however, clearly does not.

"How to gut the deer," Hunter, 12, said, shaking his shoulders as he recalled the unpleasantness of that task.

The firearms season of deer hunting began Saturday in Maryland, with hunting permitted today on private land.

Hunter and his father, Todd Paylor, of Clear Spring, were picking up some needed items Friday at Keystone Sporting Goods in Hagerstown. They bought two cans of "The Buck Bomb," a scented aerosol designed to attract deer, and a plastic device that stifles coughs, since Hunter has one.

"Quiet. Listening to birds. Seeing squirrels. Getting nervous," Hunter said of what he likes about hunting. "I hope I get a big one."

For his father, hunting is a chance to bond.

"(I) get to show him what my dad showed me," Todd Paylor said ? tasks that include gutting a deer, as well as spotting clues in the woods that indicate a deer might be nearby.

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Richard "Dick" Knight also will be taking to the woods, hunting with his 16-year-old grandson, Colby Fisher.

"I let him do most of the shooting," Knight said. "I'm getting to the point where I've killed enough. I'd like to see him get one."

Spending time outdoors and with family drive his passion for hunting, not what might or might not walk into his crosshairs.

"I don't really get excited if I don't kill anything. I just like to go," said Knight, 67, who said he has been hunting since he was about 7 years old. "If (Colby) would quit hunting, I probably would, too."

Garry Harris also has been hunting for decades, and agreed that there is more to hunting than killing a deer.

"Whether I get anything or not, it's peaceful in the woods, calms the nerves," Harris said.

DNR emphasizes safety

Bob Beyer, associate director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service, Game Management Program, said that last year in Maryland, 94,052 deer were killed.

During the firearms season last year, Washington County led the state in the number of deer taken with 5,440 deer killed. This year, firearms season runs through Dec. 9, and is held again on Jan. 5 and 6, 2007.

A hunter can kill two antlered deer and 10 antlerless deer, but two antlerless deer must be taken before a second antlered deer can be killed.

Before moving a deer from the place of kill, a hunter must attach a field tag to the deer's head and record the harvest on the Maryland Big Game Harvest Record portion of his or her hunting license. The kill then must be registered with the state within 24 hours, which can be done over the phone or online.

Beyer said he cannot stress safety enough.

"Your No. 1 priority is to get out there and come back safely," Beyer said.

Tree stands are the chief cause of hunting-related accidents in Maryland, with more than half of the reported accidents stemming from people falling as they climb up to a tree stand, falling as they climb down a tree or falling out of the stand itself.

Hunters should inspect their tree stands and, if they are permanent, replace any boards that have weakened or are rotting, Beyer said.

"Always, always, always wear a safety harness," a device that allows hunters to attach themselves to trees, he said.

Hunters must wear 250 square inches of blaze orange, which can be accomplished by wearing either a vest or a hat, although Beyer encouraged hunters to wear both.

Beyer estimated the deer population statewide at 260,000, and said he would like to see hunters reduce it to 210,000 to 215,000.

Hunting is a management tool that controls the deer population. Without it, Beyer said, deer would be "like lemmings."

"This is the tool that we need, that every state uses, to control the population," he said.

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