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Deer hunting seasons are real busiest time of year

November 30, 2003|by Bill Anderson

The last of the deer season opening days will occur Monday in Pennsylvania. This period of three opening days in eight days - including West Virginia last Monday and Maryland on Saturday - represents the busiest time of the year for outdoor sports. Wildlife managers are hoping for anther big deer kill. In nearly every area the deer population is at or near maximum capacity.

As this firearms seasons arrives, and begin to wind down, it's worth remembering that there are still plenty of late season opportunities for hunters to fill a deer tag in 2003 or, in some cases, early 2004.

Two of the most popular and important opportunities are the muzzleloader season in West Virginia and the late segment of the muzzleloader season in Maryland. The following are some highlights:

n West Virginia Muzzleloader Season - Open from Dec. 15-20. The season will be open in all counties also open during the bucks season. In counties open for antlerless hunting, a deer of either sex may be taken during the muzzleloader season.

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One of the significant recent changes for muzzleloader season is that scope sights are now legal on muzzleloaders. West Virginia resisted this change for years, and some of the traditional guys are still not happy with the decision.

During the muzzleloader season a total of two deer may be taken in most counties. The first deer is to be checked on the basic hunting license. A second deer may only be taken in most counties with an unfilled Class RG or RRG license or by a resident landowner hunting on his/her own land who has not previously filled an RG license.

The muzzleloader harvest is a big part of the overall deer management effort in West Virginia and the harvest totals reflect that importance. The muzzleloader harvest has grown from 11,538 in 1998 to 17,458 in 2002.

n Maryland Muzzleloader Season - This season is broken into multiple segments. In deer management Region A, which is of most interest to local hunters, the late segment will be Dec. 20-Jan. 3.

An important point about this late segment relates to taking antlered or antlerless deer. When hunting on DNR public lands in Region 'A', you are allowed to take antlered deer only from Dec. 20-Jan. 1. From Jan. 2-3, you may take deer of either sex.

If you are hunting during the late segment on private lands, you may take antlered deer only from Dec. 20-26. Fromn Dec. 27-Jan. 3, you may take deer of either sex.

The above information applies to Region A only, and does vary by management region. The deer regulations are getting complex and you must read them carefully. The above example for the late muzzleloader season seems to make the point that they now getting needlessly tedious.

Of course, there are also other deer hunting opportunities in both states. In West Virginia, the archery season remains open through Dec. 31. Maryland offers one of the longest archery seasons in the nation, and the late segment will be Jan. 5-31.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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