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Maryland deer harvest expected to rival the 98,029 taken last year

November 20, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Tim Stahl, owner of Keystone Sporting Goods Inc. in Hagerstown, prices deer ammunition Tuesday in anticipation of the start of the Maryland's firearm deer hunting season on Saturday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Tens of thousands of Marylanders and people from surrounding states will be taking to the woods this weekend for the start of the two-week firearm season.

Last year, approximately 75,000 hunters bagged 98,029 deer statewide, including 34,416 bucks, said Brian Eyler, the Deer Project Leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

More than 41,000 of those — including 14,293 bucks — were taken in the firearm season, which runs from Saturday to Dec. 8, he said.

“I’m expecting a harvest this year similar to last year,” Eyler said. Acorns are abundant and when food is plentiful deer move less in search of food, he said. Fewer deer movement can mean less contact with hunters, Eyler said.

Washington County is in two DNR hunting regions: Region B east of Clear Spring and Region A to the west, Eyler said. Region A also includes Allegany and Garrett counties, he said.

For Region B hunters, the bag limit is one buck in firearm season and up to 10 antlerless deer, Eyler said. However, in region B, hunters can purchase a bonus tag to bag another buck, assuming they did not use the bonus tag during the archery and muzzleloader seasons, he said.

A hunter can take up to 10 antlerless deer during firearm season in Region B, he said.

That is a lot more than a hunter could take in neighboring Pennsylvania, Eyler said.

“We have a high deer density and not as many hunters as Pennsylvania,” Eyler said.

The rules are different in Region A, where the bag limit is one buck and one antlerless deer during firearm season, Eyler said. Bonus buck tags are not allowed in Region A, he said.

“It’s just because we have more hunters in Western Maryland and more access to public land,” and more access to deer, Eyler said. Because of those factors, the state takes a more conservative approach to bag limits, he said.

Still, the chance at another buck or two, and the higher limits on does draw hunters from neighboring states, Eyler said.

“We definitely have our share of non-residents,” Eyler said of out-of-state hunters. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Delaware hunters come to Maryland to hunt whitetail deer, just as Marylanders visit those states, he said.

Hunting has positive economic benefits for the county and the state, said Tom Riford, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We usually get a big bump in deer hunting season ... with restaurant and retail expenditures,” Riford said. There is also more business at campgrounds and hotels, he said.

The deer hunting seasons — archery, muzzleloader and firearm — resulted in $113 million in hunting-related expenditures in Maryland in 2006, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study Riford cited. Total direct and indirect spending for the state was figured at $190 million with “millions of dollars” spent in this county, Riford said.

The other economic benefit of hunting is it helps keep a lid on deer damage, which Riford said costs $28 million a year in Maryland from vehicle collisions and millions more in crop losses.

Bag limits, season dates, deer registration procedures and hunting regulations can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website, www.dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide.

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