The buck harvests rose from a year ago in both Maryland and West Virginia during the recent firearms seasons.

At 18%, the increase in the Mountain State was significant. The greatest surge was in the western part of the state. Statewide, 49,662 bucks were checked in. That’s a nice bump above the 42,143 that were bagged during the 2021 hunt.

The only Potomac Highlands county in the top 10 was Hampshire (No. 6) with 1,453 bucks. The other leading counties were Greenbrier (1,856), Preston (1,760), Randolph (1,667), Ritchie (1,633), Jackson (1,539), Mason (1,417), Kanawha (1,352), Lewis (1,270) and Pocahontas (1,196).

“We were expecting harvest numbers for the buck firearms season to be comparable to (2021), but mast conditions and weather favored hunters this year and we’re thrilled that hunters all over the state were able to have a successful season,” said Paul Johansen, chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resource’s Wildlife Resources section.

In Maryland, the buck kill was 12,003, an increase of 14% above 10,498 of the previous year.

With 1,301 bucks, Garrett County showed a boost of 24% above the 1,052 that were downed in 2021. Allegany had an increase of 8% with 967 bucks biting the dust. The year before, 892 bucks were bagged.

Garrett’s buck kill was best in the state. Frederick County wasn’t too far back with 1,255.

The doe or antlerless harvest in Region A increased as well.

There was an additional day for the harvesting of antlerless deer and that added to the take.

For example, of the 736 antlerless deer killed in Garrett County, 172 were bagged on that day, which was the second Saturday of the season. Allegany County hunters checked in 638 does, including 162 from the extra day. The numbers from the portion of Washington County in Region A were 165/28.

The antlerless harvest jumped 56% in Allegany County and 33% in Garrett.

“The firearm season remains our most popular hunting season,” said Paul Peditto, director of the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service. “We’d like to thank those hunters who participated this year and contributed to helping manage Maryland’s healthy deer population.”

Perspective

I think every once in a while about an incident that happened while I was outdoor editor for the Cumberland Times-News. It was in 2017, I recall. The newspaper was accumulating photographs of successful deer hunters. Those snapshots annually appeared in the January edition of the quarterly Rod & Gun publication.

Many of the photos were of young hunters. By 2017, most photos were being submitted electronically, but some still arrived hand-delivered, often by the young hunter who got the deer who was accompanied by his father who had hunted with him.

Over the years, I spoke with many a young person who had gotten the first deer of their hunting careers. It was always a joyous occasion. That’s why the 2017 incident stands out for me.

I congratulated the young man — I think he was 11 years old — on his first deer.

“Yeah,” he said. “But it’s only a 4-point.”

There was no smile, no “thank you.”

As long as it’s legal, I think people should hunt deer the way they choose. So, if an 11-year-old wanted to be down about shooting his first deer because of the size of its antlers then that was his prerogative. He didn’t come up with that perspective on his own. It came from somewhere and that somewhere is not to hard to figure out.

I hope we can enjoy and pass on the enjoyment of hunting because of what the overall experience gives us. I have always believed that every harvested deer is a trophy.

Mike Sawyers retired as outdoor editor of the Cumberland Times-News in 2018. His column now appears every other week. To purchase his book, “Native Queen, a celebration of the hunting and fishing life,” send him a check for $15 to 16415 Lakewood Drive, Rawlings, MD 21557.

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