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Maryland deer firearms season began Saturday

November 30, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Robert Chanyi saw a nice six-point buck Saturday morning at Greenbrier State Park, but left the woods with a doe.

"I went to squeeze the trigger and the safety was on -- never fails," the Boonsboro resident said while gearing up to return to the park's 500-acre hunting area with rifle in tow.

Just once, he would like to leave the woods with a trophy buck, but Chanyi said it doesn't really matter in the end.

"I got all next week off -- freezer's empty," Chanyi said. "I just enjoy the meat."

Saturday was the first day of firearms deer season for Maryland hunters, who already have benefited from cool autumn weather and reported increases in the early season deer harvest over 2007, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Last week, DNR officials said 25,655 deer were checked in during the early bow, crossbow and muzzleloader seasons this fall, up from 19,988 in 2007, according to preliminary data.

Firearms season continues through Dec. 13, then resumes Jan. 9 and 10, 2009.

After bagging a six-point with a bow on private property, Chris Sturgill of Hagerstown returned to the woods for more Saturday with a .300 short Magnum with his friend, David Brocht of Fairplay.

"We're in our (tree) stands by 6 a.m.," said Brocht, who was armed with a 30-06 rifle.

Altogether, they spotted five deer at Greenbrier before taking an afternoon break.

Though the bright sunny weather Saturday was less than ideal for hunters, Brocht said it really didn't matter on opening day when the sounds of shots being fired fills the woods and scares the deer.

"On the first day ... they just run all over the place," Brocht said.

Paul Helm of Hagerstown said he and his son have harvested a number of deer over the years from Greenbrier State Park.

For the past six years, Helm said they have been hunting with a Pennsylvania Long Rifle, also known as a Kentucky Rifle, with a flintlock action.

Traditionally handmade with maple wood, the early American rifle features an unusually long barrel.

"We really get a kick out of hunting with them," Helm said before trudging into the woods for an afternoon hunt at the park.

In his experience of hunting in the park, Helm said deer apparently are accustomed to seeing hikers in the summer and do not run far after seeing him there.

The park's 500-acre hunting area, which is bounded by Mountain Laurel, Greenbrier, Swope and Keadle roads, is only a small portion of the state-managed acreage open for hunting in Washington County. Four tracts of public hunting land in Washington County -- Indian Springs, Prather's Neck, Sideling Hill and Woodmont -- comprise more than 12,000 acres that are open for rifle and other wildlife harvesting seasons, according to the DNR.

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