Tidewater Trader - page 8

idewater Trader 2018-2019
ssue November 6, 2018 Page 8
White Tailed Deer
What do they look like?
White-tailed deer are 3–3 ½ feet tall
at the shoulder and weigh 50–250
pounds. Males are larger than females
and grow antlers from March-August.
Antlers are shed in late winter. On rare
occasions, a female will grow antlers. The
deer coat is reddish brown in the summer and
grayish brown in the winter. Fawns are red-
dish brown with white spots.
Where are they found?
White-tailed deer are very abundant and are found
throughout Maryland in forests, farms, wetlands,
parks, open areas, and suburban areas.
What do they eat?
White-tailed deer are browsers and grazers. They eat the
twigs, buds and leaves of a wide variety of plants, including greenbrier, poi-
son ivy, wildflowers, honeysuckle and oak seedlings. They feed on acorns,
fruits and agricultural crops such as corn and soybeans.
What other kind of deer live in Maryland?
The white-tailed deer is the only native deer in Maryland. The sika deer is
an introduced elk from Asia. They are found in Dorchester, Somerset, Wic-
omico, and Worcester counties.
I didn’t know that?
White-tailed deer are more numerous today than prior to European settle-
ment of NorthAmerica. In pre-colonial times, they were prey for wolves and
mountain lions. Native Americans hunted whitetailed deer all year round.
Today, man is the only predator of white-tailed deer in Maryland.
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by Maryland Department of
Natural Resources Wildlife and Heri-
tage Service Deer Project Staff; Brian
Eyler, Deer Project Leader, George
Timko, Assistant Deer Project Leader
The 2017-2018 Maryland deer sea-
son concluded with a total harvest
very similar to the previous three
seasons. The recent trends in the
annual harvest, while lower than
the record harvests a decade ago,
strongly suggests that deer num-
bers remain healthy across the
state. As presented previously,
hunters in Maryland have har-
vested over 80,000 deer per year
for nearly the past two decades. A
relatively short 25 years ago, deer
hunters harvested only half as
many deer each year.
Numerous factors contribute to
the annual deer harvest. Fewer
deer in the population, in many
areas, is without a doubt respon-
sible for some of the reduced har-
vest in recent years. Likewise,
warmer weather has become more
common during the deer season.
This also influences the harvest to
some degree, as does mast avail-
ability from year to year, paired
with many hunters using bait.
Lastly, a major influence on the
harvest is hunter effort, which
fluctuates from year to year based
on the economy and other factors.
While hunter effort changes to a
small degree from year to year,
overall, it is down considerably
in Maryland over the long term.
In recent years, survey data indi-
cate that hunters have spent about
900,000 total “days” a year deer
hunting in Maryland. This is sig-
nificantly less than the peak in
1994 of 1,736,000 days. However,
while effort is down, success is up
(owing to Maryland’s very healthy
deer population). In 1994, deer
hunters were taking on average
one deer for every 20 days of ef-
fort. Today, deer hunters take one
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