ANNAPOLIS - Maryland deer hunters successfully used a new telephone and Internet-based check-in system to report 94,052 deer for the 2005-06 season, representing a modest increase over the 93,868 deer harvested last year.
The antlered harvest decreased 5.2 percent from last year to 32,837 deer (including 798 sika deer), while the antlerless harvest increased approximately 3.4 percent to 61,215 deer (including 866 sika deer). Both figures closely follow recent trends in Maryland's yearly deer harvest.
"Harvesting antlerless deer is the key to a healthy and balanced deer population," said Wildlife and Heritage Service Deer Project Leader Doug Hotton. "Every year our hunters focus more effort towards taking antlerless deer, which brings us closer to striking a balance between deer, their environment and their human neighbors."
Maryland is divided into two Deer Management Regions. Region A is comprised of Allegany and Garret counties and Region B encompasses the remainder of the state. Deer Management Region A has experienced a decrease in the deer population in recent years. As a result, liberal seasons and bag limits put in place several years ago were modified this year in those counties in an effort to stabilize the declining population. The modifications have been effective, as the antlerless harvest in Region A dropped more than 30 percent from 5,253 last year to 3,637 this year. Antlered harvest increased slightly from 4,659 bucks last year to 4,922 this year.
"Our season and bag limit changes for Region A were designed to alleviate some of the harvest pressure on antlerless deer and stabilize the population," said Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto. "Those changes appear to be working exactly as planned."
Maryland's current Deer Management Plan calls for stabilizing white-tailed deer populations at 1997-1998 levels. The current deer population in many areas of Maryland is currently near or below those levels.
"Revisions to the Deer Management Plan during the next year will establish revised population goals for the state using sound science and information gathered from the public," explained added.
The 2005-06 deer season marks the first year that DNR has used a telephone and internet reporting system for big game. The system has proven to be reliable and accurate, is more convenient for most hunters, and allows faster and more cost-effective retrieval of the harvest data. The one drawback to the new system is the loss of camaraderie among hunters and former check stations as deer were checked in.
"We have listened to the feedback from our hunters and former check station partners and plan to move forward with a series of local and statewide contests that will encourage hunters to visit participating outdoor retailers and renew some of the fellowship associated with the former check station model," added Peditto.