Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

April 14, 2012

Mountain State’s backyard backstraps

— Homeowners’ associations in West Virginia, especially those in the Eastern Panhandle, are signing on with the Division of Natural Resources for special neighborhood archery hunts for the deer that are eating their ornamental and garden plants.

“Word is spreading,” said Rich Rogers, the wildlife biologist who oversees critter management in Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, Pendleton and Mineral counties.

“This past year we had five homeowners’ associations hold hunts and we have an additional three applications for 2012.”

The program enters its ninth year and the Whitings Neck Farm Estates in Berkeley County has had backyard hunts since it began.

These hunts begin two full weeks ahead of the general archery season and have allowed archers to take two deer that do not count against the seasonal bag limit. Hunters who have harvested two deer may continue to bowhunt using their regular license.

The Natural Resources Commission will announce April 29 whether or not it has approved an increase in this special deer harvest from two to seven. The homeowners’ groups pretty much call all the shots, figuratively for sure and sometimes even literally.

“They pick who can hunt, when they can hunt, where they can hunt,” Rogers said. “Successful hunters check the deer in with a designated person in the development.”

Hunters can take either bucks or does. “Some associations set a rule that the first couple deer have to be antlerless,” Rogers said.

“One development actually provides color-coded maps showing which properties are open for hunting, which properties are not open for hunting but open for retrieval of a dead deer and which properties don’t allow hunting or retrieval.”

Has a shot deer ever expired on another person’s property?

“Happens all the time,” Rogers said.

Has that ever caused any problems?

“None that I’ve been told about,” Rogers added.

Allan Niederberger, also a Romney-based biologist for DNR, said a lot of people in new housing developments in the Eastern Panhandle have moved into the state from elsewhere and often have no understanding of hunting.

One such person, Niederberger recalled, phoned the agency when an arrow-struck deer wandered into the yard.

The caller told the biologist, somewhat sadly, that he had placed a blanket over the deer and watched “as the life went out of it.”

“A few years later, after that person’s flowers had been eaten time after time, the whole attitude changed and the home association’s hunt became a good thing in his eyes,” Niederberger said.

“Some of the residents of these developments never get a tomato from their gardens,” Rogers said.

Rogers said there are times when a homeowners’ association has difficulty getting enough residents to agree to a hunt.

“We go in and explain how it works and why it will help,” he said. “Hunting from elevated stands is not required, but we recommend it,” Rogers added, referencing added safety because of a downward shooting angle.

Niederberger said he has had residents who initially objected to a hunt tell him afterwards that they didn’t even know a hunt was taking place, it was so unobtrusive.

“Even if the association doesn’t agree to a hunt, it is legal for anybody in the state to bowhunt in their own backyard,” Rogers said.

Although there is a 500-foot safety zone required when hunting with a firearm, no such regulation applies to archery in West Virginia, according to Niederberger.

Permission for a hunt in a development is given for one year. Associations must reapply annually before March.

Do the hunts work? Do they resolve or reduce plant damage by deer?

“Every female deer you take out helps a little bit,” Niederberger said.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

Text Only
Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • Black bear biologist explains new hunt

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has abandoned the bear harvest quota system in use for 10 hunting seasons and has set the next two hunts at four days apiece.

    April 5, 2014

  • MIKE SAWYERS South Branch of Potomac River best place in W.Va. for trophy rainbows

    I always enjoy the annual roundup supplied by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that reveals where all the trophy fish were caught.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Mettiki will once again produce trout

    Brian Richardson is confident that the Maryland Fisheries Service will, little by little and year by year, get to the point where full production is restored to the state’s trout hatchery system, meaning that fish will no longer have to be purchased from private sources.

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The answer my friend ...

    Recently, the Times-News published
    a photograph of sea gulls that had
    landed on the parking lot at Braddock
    Square Shopping
    Center in LaVale
    My first thought
    was, “If those sea
    gulls landed in the
    Gunpowder River or
    Big Hunting Creek
    on their way here
    from the ocean I
    hope they didn’t have
    felt soles on their
    feet, otherwise they
    will spread rock snot
    to our trout streams
    in Allegany and Garrett counties.”

    March 15, 2014

  • Gobbler stuff can get crazy

    Tough, old bird
    The third gobbler I killed was in 1990 while hunting on Pond Hill near McCoole. Relatively early in the morning I sent out a couple yelp calls. Immediately, 75-100 yards away, what sounded like three gobblers got into a fight.

    March 8, 2014

  • MIKE SAWYERS Almost Maryland welcomes you back

    If you are a hunter in Almost Maryland, circle Thursday on your calendar so you don’t forget to attend the 7 p.m. hearing at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg that deals with proposed hunting regulations for the next two years.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Gobbler radar activated

    With only 54 days until it opens, the Maryland spring gobbler season is officially on the radar.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Region A buck, doe changes possible

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service, the Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen’s Association, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen have hashed out a new deer hunting concept for Region A, which includes Garrett, Allegany and the western portion of Washington counties.

    February 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Meshach Browning would say ‘Just do it’

    I wonder if it is possible to attach a
    GPS unit to legislation that has been
    introduced at the Maryland General

    February 1, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads