Numbers show more venison

December 22, 2003|by Bill Anderson

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has released the preliminary harvest total for the recent two-week firearms season. That total is preliminary because deer hunters sometimes check deer in counties other than the ones where they were taken, so the data has be reviewed and corrected by the DNR prior to the release of the official numbers.

The totals were surprisingly good in most counties. The 2003 total is 42,166 deer, compared with 41,469 last season. This small increase is particularly impressive when you factor in things such as poor weather conditions during part of the season and poor mast production in many areas.

Western Maryland results were mixed. For example, Washington County saw a nice increase this season. The 2003 total was 3,979 compared with 3,437 last season. Meanwhile, Allegany and Garrett counties were down, which could be a reflection of poor weather in the higher elevation areas.The 2003 total for Allegany County was 3,513, compared with last year's 3,801 total. In Garrett County, the total was 2,992, down slightly from the 2002 total of 3,103.


The Frederick County total was 3,948, down slightly from the 4,109 last season.

The data from the various deer seasons is always interesting, and this year there are some numbers that seem really unusual. Some counties saw a radical decrease from last year. Prince George's County was down 52 percent from last season. It's 2002 total was 777 deer. This season, the preliminary total is 370. You wonder if this is a result of lower deer population, lower hunter participation or both.

By contrast several counties saw substantial increases. The winner was Calvert County which saw an increase of over 100 percent. In 2002, Calvert County hunters tagged 664 deer, while this year the total is 1,391. Another county with a big increase was Carroll County, which went from 2,356 in 2002 to 3,150 this season.

Overall, the Maryland totals seem to reflect a deer herd that is still growing in many areas of the state. They also seem to indicate that the liberal seasons and increased emphasis on antlerless hunting is barely keeping the deer herd in check in most counties.

The DNR is reminding hunters that the two-week portion of the muzzleloader season, which opened Saturday, continues through Jan. 3. Last season, muzzleloader hunters bagged 8,548 deer during the two-week muzzleloader season.

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

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