Another deer season starts
The second — and final — firearms deer season opens today in Region B, which includes all of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.
Hunters have another opportunity to bag a deer today and tomorrow. Sunday, hunting is allowed on private lands only. The firearms season is the most popular deer season in Maryland.
According to a press release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service director Paul Peditto, “The resulting deer harvest helps us meet our deer population objectives in Region B.”
The preliminary statewide numbers for the first split of the firearms season were released last month. Hunters reported taking 31,588 deer in the two-week season, which was about eight percent lower than last year’s harvest.
The number of antlered deer increased slightly this year, with 13,262 harvested during the season. To put that number in perspective, hunters in West Virginia harvested approximately 13,000, on opening day of their state’s traditional buck firearm season.
Total numbers for deer harvested in Maryland are on track to be consistent or slightly lower than last year’s harvest. Bad weather contributed to the decrease in deer harvested during the first split of the firearms season.
Maryland’s total deer harvest was 86,542 last year. In our neighboring states, totals for last year were West Virginia with 108,160, Virginia with
189,730, Pennsylvania with 367,159, while Delaware set a new state record with 15,300.
Heritage season comes to West Virginia
West Virginia is trying something new this month called Mountaineer Heritage Season.
It goes without saying that if you live in West Virginia, you better be a Mountaineers fan. But in this case, participants won’t be cheering the West Virginia University football team from the sidelines, they’ll be vying for a deer or bear with primitive weapons, along the lines of what the original mountaineers had available.
This new hunting season will encourage the citizens of West Virginia to get outdoors and in touch with the basics of nature, unaided by our modern extravagances.
The only weapons allowed during this season are muzzle-loading flintlock or side lock percussion rifles without scopes and long or recurve bow.
Most of the animals harvested during this four-day hunting season are expected to be deer, as bears should already be in hibernation at the time the season opens. This new hunting season is more of an opportunity for hunters to get outside and enjoy the outdoors rather than a culling method to control the animal population.
Last year, West Virginia DNR officials surveyed hunters to gauge support for this new season. Seventy-eight percent were in favor and, of the state’s deer hunters, 42 percent said they plan to hunt during the new season. It will be interesting after the dust (and arrows and muzzle loads) settle, to look at the data generated. I’m curious how many hunters participate and the harvest results.
The Mountain State also debuted a new fishing season last summer.
Savvy anglers could try their hand at catching catfish. Noodling — as this method is called — is becoming more popular. It sounds interesting, but I think I’ll stick with hook and line.
West Virginia is indeed keeping it wild and wonderful.
Changes coming for Maryland fishing season
Maryland anglers should expect some changes to the 2019 fishing season’s size and creel limits.
Included in those changes, DNR will most likely be moving forward with a four-fish per person creel limit for sheepshead.
According to Eric Wilson, public affairs officer for DNR, recreational anglers asked the department to consider precautionary regulations because the perception is that large catches of sheepshead by spear fishermen around jetties is causing localized depletion of the fish.
Currently, Maryland groups sheepshead with 46 other species of fish as part of the snapper/grouper complex. Under last year’s regulations, technically a person could keep 20 sheepshead per day. From some reports out of Ocean City, that number is conceivable.
While NOAA fisheries identifies sheepshead as a species that does not need federal management, Virginia adopted a four-fish creel based on input from anglers and a constituent desire to be proactively cautious on this data-poor species. A four-fish limit would make Maryland’s regulations consistent with Virginia’s.