I believe I represent the average hunter. I am fortunate to be able to take a one-week vacation to hunt deer in my home state. I choose not to hunt on Sundays because seven days of dawn to dusk hunting is more than enough for me. I am very fortunate to be allowed to hunt on private property, but also hunt on surrounding and nearby state land.
I have been an active hunter since the early 1980s. At that time I remember seeing herds of deer, the average herd of about 8, but even higher than 20 at some times, not just standing in fields but traveling through the forest.
Now I feel lucky to see two or three deer at once. In November of 2012, I killed the only deer I saw on that day which was a spike. I saw fewer than a total of 10 deer for the entire week of vacation, the spike included.
Now a small group of individuals would like to further reduce my chances for having venison in my freezer. Their idea of shooting only older bucks with larger racks is not quality deer management, but antlered deer management for trophy purposes. I believe restricting the buck kill in Maryland is designed by these individuals to increase their chances for a wall-hanger with little concern for the average deer hunter. It seems designed to encourage out-of-state hunters to come to Maryland for “big” game. Perhaps to build outdoor guide services? This sounds more like living the Outdoor Channel dream than good hunting for the average person.
The true manager of our deer herds is the DNR. Our hunting seasons for whitetail are lengthy and include the opportunity to shoot does after breeding season. This reduces the number of deer in the state of Maryland. I have seen a huge reduction in numbers. Their reasons, I hope, are for a healthier deer herd and environmental resource issues. If having larger racks on bucks controls the health and number of deer, I’m sure the DNR would have kept this law when it was first enforced in the 1940s.
Although hunters under 16 and over 65 get a free pass to shoot any buck, there are more individuals that fall in between those age groups who would now have less chance to shoot a buck within the ever-decreasing whitetail deer herd in Western Maryland.
If poachers annoy good hunters and animal loving citizens now, imagine finding a buck lying dead and the meat wasted because his antlers were too small for regulations.