Cumberland Times-News

Outdoors

February 15, 2014

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.

I like it.

Representatives of those groups met in Cumberland recently and discussed the matter. It is not an actual proposal yet, but those recommendations about the hunting regulations for the next two years will be solidified soon.

Here is how it would work.

Hunters would still have a bag limit of one buck for each of the bow, muzzleloader and modern firearms season.

If a hunter was lucky enough to kill a buck in each of the seasons (not many are), one buck would need to have at least three points on one side.

Pete Jayne, associate director, explained to me that a hunter would not have to kill a qualifying buck first, before pursuing lesser bucks in the other seasons.

In other words, you take a 4-point in September with your bow and a spike in October with you muzzleloader and you are perfectly legal, even if you don’t get a buck during the modern firearms season. However, if you do kill a buck with your centerfire rifle, it would need to have at least three points on one side.

“This has a small potential impact on harvest. We understand that,” Jayne said. “But it does put antler-point restriction out there for public debate.”

Jayne said antler-point restrictions do not constitute an intent management concern for agency biologists. “It is more of interest to hunters,” he said.

The percentage of 1.5-year-old bucks in the harvest this past year was 68 for each of Garrett and Allegany counties.

Higher survival by yearling bucks results in a better buck age structure that includes more older animals, according to WHS.

Now, here is a substantial change as part of the concept being considered.

The doe bag limit would drop from three to two in Region A.

This would apply to both public and private lands. No more than one doe could be killed in any weapon season.

Jerry Zembower, president of the Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen’s Association, supports this concept.

In a recent vote, clubs within the AGSA opposed mandatory antler restrictions, but expressed a desire to reduce the doe harvest so that the herd could expand.

This past Wednesday, this proposal was among those discussed during a stakeholders’ meeting in Baltimore County where the state agency heard from various hunters and hunting organizations from throughout Maryland.

The other hunting regulation concepts being considered were reported on the Jan. 26 Outdoors page.

Those included a change for the bear hunt, setting it for a certain number of days rather than establishing a harvest quota range for a certain number of animals.

The regulations eventually chosen will be in force for the next two hunting years of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Maryland’s license year runs summer to summer.

After concepts become concrete proposals, they will be discussed at public meetings in March.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com or call 301-784-2523.

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