ANNAPOLIS — Deer hunters had a good start to the firearm season this year with an opening weekend harvest on par with last year and one hunter taking home the biggest non-typical whitetail ever harvested in Maryland.
Hunters unofficially harvested 17,231 deer during the opening weekend of the firearms season, 80 more than the unofficial number of 17,151 reported last year during the same period. The reported antlered harvest increased from 7,956 deer last year to 8,019 this year, while the antlerless harvest increased slightly from 9,195 to 9,212.
Sika deer comprised 143 of the antlered and 147 of the antlerless deer during opening weekend, making it comparable to the 133 antlered and 164 antlerless sika deer reported during last year’s opener.
Hunters tolerated fog and warm temperatures to harvest 2,529 deer on Sunday in the 14 counties that permit Sunday hunting, representing an increase of about 3% over last year’s Sunday total of 2,462. This year, Anne Arundel and Montgomery were added to the list of counties that permit Sunday hunting. Both of these counties experienced a significant increase (more than 15 percent) in the opening weekend deer harvest over last year.
“Sunday hunting is gradually catching on with our hunters,” said Doug Hotton, Department of Natural Resources’ Deer Project Leader. “This day is proving to be a viable option to increase harvest and balance our deer population with its environment and human neighbors.”
A new state record buck was taken by Bill Crutchfield, Jr. of Charles County near his home in Newburg, Maryland. Crutchfield watched the buck for approximately two hours mid-day Monday before finding an opportunity to take the massive deer with a single shotgun round.
Maryland DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service and Natural Resources Police personnel examined the buck on Tuesday. DNR staff confirmed that the buck has 26 scoreable points (13 per side) and a preliminary antler score of 268 5/8 inches. If approved by national scoring organizations, the buck will eclipse the current Maryland non-typical record by 40 inches, becoming the number one non-typical buck ever taken on the entire East Coast, and ranking among the top 20 all-time largest non-typical deer in the world.
Bob Beyer, associate director for game management, preliminarily scored the buck but official confirmation will not be possible until the antlers have met the minimum 60-day ‘drying’ period and an official score is taken. A deer’s antlers are classified as being typical when they are symmetrical and regular in shape. Non-typical antlers are those that have uneven or unusual tines, irregular points or outgrowths.
“For its size, Maryland has always been one of the top-producing trophy whitetail states,” said Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “Our hunters have kept our trophy status a well-guarded secret; I expect that will change now.”
Crutchfield’s buck weighed 150 pounds after field dressing and had a 22-inch inside spread and massive 25-inch main beams sporting more than 5 inches of circumference mass along each beam-length. The former non-typical record was taken in November 1987 by Jack Poole in Montgomery County during the firearms season and scored 228 4/8 inches.
Beyer, who measured the former non-typical record nearly 20 years ago added, “This new record buck is truly remarkable and is a perfect testament to the superb potential of Maryland’s deer management program and the quality of our state’s deer herd and habitat.”
Deer firearms season continues through December 9