Maryland Deer Season 2012: Hunting Forecast

"Maryland, like most of the mid-Atlantic, has abundant deer," said Brian Eyler, deer project leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "The population is stable in most of the state. The population in the western part of the state is at lower, but healthier, numbers than ten years ago."

More than 98,000 deer were harvested last year, and the herd has held steady the last five years at about 230,000 animals. A very mild winter had little to no impact on deer. Spring forage was in good shape.

Precipitation levels have been down across the state this year, but as Eyler said that's not a deal breaker.

"Much of the forage deer in Maryland consume is agricultural based or homeowner based, so [below normal] rain and moisture doesn't impact deer like it can in other areas," he said. For the 2012-2013 deer season, Maryland archers got some good news. The bow season will open on September 7 this year, a full week earlier than past seasons. Also, in Deer Management Region B now has an unlimited bag limit for antlerless white-tailed deer for the Bow Season only.

In other regulation changes, the bag limit for antlered whitetail deer has been changed. The new bag limit is three antlered deer, one per weapon season, statewide (Deer Management Regions A and B). One bonus antlered deer may be taken during one weapon season in Region B only. A hunter must first purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp and take two antlerless deer during any combination of the weapon seasons in Region B before taking a bonus buck.

In the past, a person could actually take nine bucks over the course of a hunting season, if he or she hunted every available season, with every legal weapon, in both management regions.

In Maryland, it's possible to tag a large deer almost anywhere, but historically, the Coastal Plain soils around the Chesapeake Bay have produced the biggest bucks.

The Northeastern Regional Report
_A very mild winter (which followed a generally mild winter in 2010-2011) and average-or-better amounts of spring and summer rain this year have the Northeast region looking good this fall. States like Vermont and Maine are expecting improved harvests, as the easy winters have allowed deer herds to rebound. Except for a small pocket of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, and a limited outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in west-central New Jersey, deer here have no real health issues.

While there are still many good-size deer in the Northeast, trophy antler production has eased away from here and moved into the Midwest region. The Boone and Crockett Club's "Trophy Whitetail Production, 2005 to 2010," for example, doesn't list a single Northeastern state in the top 10. Pennsylvania, at number 20 (with 26 entries), is the highest-ranked state from this region.

That said, Northern states still grow big-bodied deer. "During the 2011 season, we had 124 bucks registered that, on the hoof, would have tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds," says Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski._
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Top Trophy Zones****
NY: Monroe, Wayne, and Suffolk counties. Comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island, Suffolk County produces approximately half the state's Pope and Young records--including a 2006 buck that netted 196 2⁄8 non-typical.
NJ: Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Salem counties.
PA: Alleghany, Chester, Washington, and Beaver counties.
WV: McDowell and Wyoming counties.