Editors Blog

Deer Expectations Skew Reality


by Daniel E. Schmidt D&DH Editor

Perhaps we should create a new category for posts in this blog. Maybe something along
the lines of “let’s get real, people.”

Today’s installment comes from Maryland. This is a sleeper deer state if there ever
was one. When you consider the size of the tiny East Coast “Old Line State” it is
home to a rather robust whitetail herd. In the news today, last fall’s overall harvest
of 98,663 deer (down 2 percent from the previous year’s record harvest of 100,663)
came as an obvious disappointment to some hunters. The buck harvest was down as well,
to a “meager” 33,341.

Now for the reality check. Maryland is a tiny state! It encompasses just 2.7 million
acres of forested land. Perspective: New York offer 10 times as much forested land,
yet NY hunters only harvested a little more than 208,000 deer.

The expectations are not to be pinned on the hunters alone. True, the state deserves
some of that blame, as do all whitetail states that have made such increased efforts
to reduce doe numbers these past 10 years or so. Up until 1998, Maryland’s average
annual harvest held very steady at about 52,000 deer per year. That’s what hunters
should be expecting once again when deer managers take their collective feet off the
gas pedal in their efforts to reduce deer densities.

Interesting side note on Maryland’s 2010-2011 harvest: the final tally included 2,780
wild sika deer; the only huntable wild sika herd in the U.S.