ANNAPOLIS - Maryland deer hunters reported harvesting 17,151 deer on the opening weekend of Maryland's Deer Firearm Season. Hunters took advantage of liberal antlerless bag limits and prime deer hunting weather to harvest 9,195 antlerless deer (164 sika deer) along with 7,956 antlered deer (133 sika deer).
Overall, weekend harvest numbers were down slightly from last year. The slight decline of 793 deer from last year's opening weekend is likely a result of a reduced deer population in some parts of the state and anticipated minor differences in reporting rates and data acquisition between the new telephone and Internet check-in system and the traditional check station system it replaced. Harvest numbers will remain preliminary until the data can be thoroughly analyzed.
The 2005-06 hunting season marks the first year that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has used a telephone and Internet reporting system. Maryland hunters are credited with adapting to the new system and complying with its requirements.
"The Saturday deer firearm opener was the first significant test of the new check-in system and all indications show that is was a great success," said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto. "Telephone and Internet check-in is more convenient for most hunters, allows faster retrieval of accurate harvest data, and can be operated at a reduced cost."
Washington County led the weekend harvest with 2,183 deer reported taken. Sunday hunters on private lands in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Garrett, Kent, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, Talbot and Washington Counties contributed 2,462 of the 17,000+ deer reported harvested for the weekend.