Late-season hunting offers last chance to fill deer tag

December 05, 2004|by BILL ANDERSON

As the firearms seasons begin to wind down, it is worth remembering that there are still plenty of late-season opportunities for hunters to fill a deer tag this season.

One of the most popular and important seasons is the muzzleloader season in West Virginia and the late segment of the muzzleloader season in Maryland.

The following are some highlights of the two seasons:

n West Virginia Muzzleloader Season - Open from Dec. 13-18. The muzzleloader season is open in all counties open during the bucks season. Deer of either sex may be taken during the muzzleloader season.

The muzzleloader harvest is a very big part of the overall deer-management plan in most states and is certainly significant in West Virginia. The muzzleloader harvest in 2003 was 15,853 and the record harvest was 17,458 deer, set in 2002.


West Virginia hunters should note that in all limited resident antlerless counties, or parts thereof, and limited resident Wildlife Management Areas, a hunter may take only one deer in the muzzleloader season.

During the muzzleloader season, only single shot muzzleloader, including in-line style rifles that are .38 caliber or larger, are legal. It's also important to note a fairly recent change that allows telescopic sights on muzzleloaders.

During the muzzleloader season, a total of two deer may be taken. 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.

ยท Maryland Muzzleloader Season - Broken into multiple (early and late) segments. The regulations also vary by management regions.

Like West Virginia, the Maryland DNR finds it necessary to have separate regulations for those who hunt on public land in Region A and those who hunt on private lands.

In an era where the wildlife managers are supposedly striving for higher deer kills, this discrimination against public-land hunters defies any kind of logical explanation. Any increase to the total kill by allowing antlerless deer hunting during all of the late-season segment would be minimal compared to the other management strategies being employed in Maryland. A bucks-only season for all but two days on public lands in Region A is silly.

Late Muzzleloader Region A, Public Lands: Dec. 18-30, antlered deer only; Dec. 31-Jan. 1, deer of either sex.

Late Muzzleloader Region A, Private Lands: Dec. 18-24, antlered deer only; Dec. 25-Jan. 1, either sex deer.

Late Muzzleloader Region B, Public and Private Lands: Dec. 18-Jan. 1, either sex deer.

The total muzzleloader harvest in Maryland for 2003 was 19,658 deer, down almost 18 percent from the total of 23,736 in 2002.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by e-mail at

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