Outdoors - Good weather boosts hunters

December 16, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

The biggest factor in every deer season is the weather - particularly during the first days of the season. This year, Maryland hunters enjoyed great weather - cool and clear - on opening day, and it contributed to a kill total up slightly from 2006, which also was a very good season.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has released the preliminary numbers for opening weekend of the two-week firearms season. The statewide kill was 18,099 deer, up slightly from 17,231 in 2006. The antlered buck kill trend was almost identical, with 8,179 taken this year compared to 8,019 in 2006.

DNR officials seem pleased by the opening week totals - particularly in light of the fact that the early-season archery and muzzleloader seasons have been down this year. DNR managers point to unusually warm weather and hemorrhagic disease as factors contributing to the early-season harvest decreases.

The DNR also pointed out that Sunday hunting - now legal in many counties - contributed significantly to the weekend totals. In Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, where Sunday hunting was legal for the first time, the harvest for opening weekend was up 48 percent over last year.


With more and more counties allowing Sunday hunting on opening weekend, the totals for Saturday and Sunday are more relevant that just the opening day alone.

Washington County hunters reported 2,142 deer for the opening weekend, leading all Maryland counties by a wide margin, as it usually does. Frederick County was second.

Washington County hunters bagged 1,699 deer on Saturday (843 bucks, 856 antlerless) and 443 on Sunday (175 and 268).

Frederick County finished with 1,633 deer from Saturday only, as it does not currently allow Sunday hunting. As you can see, Washington and Frederick counties were very close for opening-day totals.

The very successful opening weekend should set the stage for another excellent firearms season in Maryland - opening weekend usually accounts for a high percentage of the total kill.

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

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