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Deer harvest up slightly

December 22, 2000

Deer harvest up slightly



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


Tri-State area hunters had greater success this season over last, according to preliminary numbers from natural resources officials.

Estimates show 11,219 deer were killed in Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia during the fall firearm hunting season. Numbers for the Pennsylvania deer kill won't be available until March, officials said.

The harvest was up about 2 percent over the 11,000 deer killed last year.

Statewide, Maryland's buck harvest was up 5 percent while West Virginia's was down slightly.

Despite the drop, Gary Strawn, district biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, declared the season a success.

Strawn expected a low harvest because the deer didn't have to travel far for food, which was plentiful this fall. Stationary deer are less likely to become targets for hunters.

Strawn was disappointed that the harvest didn't include more antlerless deer. Both West Virginia and Maryland arranged their seasons to encourage more doe hunting.

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Some hunters resist killing female deer because they consider it unsporting.

"You don't see many does on the front of hunting magazines," Strawn said.

But more hunters are learning that harvesting doe will lead to nicer bucks in the long run because it gives the males a chance to grow larger and develop bigger racks, he said.

Maryland has not yet determined its antlerless deer harvest but James Mullan, western region wildlife biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said it may finally reach the DNR's desired level.

A larger deer kill means that the nonprofit Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry will have more venison to donate to local food banks, said Maryland director Josh Wilson.

Hunters and farmers donated 61 tons of meat this year, compared to 57 tons last year.

Wilson himself bagged a personal record of three does this season on a large farm in Virginia. He kept one and donated the other two.

More meat means higher processing costs for the nonprofit, which is still in need of donations to cover bills that will be coming in through February, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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