Cumberland Times-News

November 23, 2013

Venison main course

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— I have an unscientific observation for

you.

What’s new, right?

There are a lot of

signs that there are a

lot of deer. Among these

signs are the 304,137

trail cameras put up by

hunters in Almost

Maryland and in Almost

Heaven. These cameras

are getting plenty of

deer photos and images

of some impressive

bucks are among them.

A hunting companion

and I were speaking just a few days ago

about trail cameras. We agreed that if it

were not for the images of antlered deer

we had obtained we would swear there

were no bucks on the property and that,

by gosh, the (name state here) DNR better

do something about it.

What are some other indications that

there are a lot of deer?

Well, at Stoney Creek Store in Largent,

W.Va., owner Joe Decker, a former Cumberlander,

keeps a scorecard so that all

his customers can see what deer he has

checked in.

Bowhunters in that locale are chalking

up a fair number of branch-antlered

bucks thus far. I figure Joe will be busy

tomorrow when the Mountain State’s

firearms season begins. In fact, I hope

I’m one of the hunters checking in a deer.

In case I don’t get one in that part of

the Mountain State and you do, tell Joe I

said hello when you check in.

We are old high school buddies and

Kingston Trio fans.

Look at all the young hunters saying,

“What’s a Kingston Trio?”

More signs?

The W.Va. DNR is letting hunters kill

two deer in one day this year as long as

no more than one is a buck. In addition,

hunters don’t have to run out of the

woods to check in the first deer before

killing a second, though I can’t imagine

dragging two deer at the same time.

The intent of this regulation, of course,

is to make more does go belly up and

keep the deer herd under control. I’m

thinking it will work.

I know everybody has their own opinions

of the DNR and deer management.

My opinion is that the biologists would

not recommend the taking of two deer in

a day if the antlerless deer herd was not

in good shape.

We already know that the deer kill

through October has increased in Allegany

County this year. A week ago on the

Outdoors page we gave you those numbers.

Also a week ago we talked about potential

antler point restrictions in Garrett

County. I thought about that some more

as I sat in a ground blind several days

this past week.

You know how it goes. Shooting takes

an instant. Sitting takes hours.

I think antler point restrictions are

pretty much already in place, at least on

private lands in Maryland. I don’t know of

any hunting club that has not placed

some restriction on the killing of bucks.

Usually, it is a rule that a buck must have

at least three points on one side.

I am thinking that this tendency to

shoot older bucks is a lot like catch-andrelease

trout fishing.

Seriously.

Catching and releasing trout a decade

or three ago was a regulation put on certain

portions of streams, but it caught on

among anglers of all sorts, whether they

flip a royal Wulff or a Mepps Aglia and

even, to some extent, among those who

drift garden worms and cheese-flavored

salmon eggs.

After all, there is a no-kill rule for trout

fishing in the North Branch of the

Potomac River for a ways upstream of

Pinto, but anglers can still use any lure

or bait they choose.

I know of hunting groups who restrict

their members to bucks with four points

on one side.

Another insists that antlers have a

spread of at least 18 inches.

What I’m saying is that antler point

restrictions are slipping into the consciousness

of hunters the way catch and

release subtly became the common practice

among many trout anglers. Know

what I’m saying?

I’m cool with that.

Whether you are getting after them in

West By God tomorrow or hitting the

Maryland mountains on Saturday or

Penn’s Woods on Dec. 2, all the best in

luck and skill to each of you. We have

arrived at the main course of deer hunting.

Bon appetit!

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

msawyers@times-news.com.