Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak Pro Roy Butler lives right outside of Westminster, Maryland, and has taken as many as 30 deer in a season, but now he only harvests 2 - 5. If you're a bowhunter, a blackpowder hunter or a gun hunter, Maryland offers plenty of opportunities to fill your freezer. Many areas of Maryland have a severe overpopulation of whitetails.
I grew up in northeast Texas where my family had some hunting land, and I followed my dad and uncle around when they hunted deer. That’s how I got involved in deer hunting. I didn’t start hunting deer myself until I moved to Maryland in 1970. We have a really-liberal deer season here in Maryland. Our archery season starts September 1 and ends January 31. There are deer everywhere here in the State of Maryland, and these deer have adapted to people. They’ve learned to live in small woodlots and on the edges of agriculture. Here in Maryland, we raise plenty of corn and soybeans. The habitat is broken up by farms, woodlots and urban areas that create a lot of edge.
Just about everywhere you go in Maryland, you’ll see deer. When I first moved to Maryland, if we saw a deer once a week, we considered ourselves lucky. But now, seeing from 20 to 50 deer as you drive down a road isn’t unusual. I hunt deer with a bow, a blackpowder gun and a regular gun. The state is divided into several zones. For instance, in the B Zone, a hunter can take an unlimited number of does during archery season. There are two seasons for blackpowder - an early season and a late season. In some zones, you're allowed to take five deer - often, two bucks and three does during that 2-week early muzzleloader season.
Maryland has reciprocal out-of-state hunting licenses, which mean whatever your state charges for a hunting license, Maryland charges the same amount for an out-of-state license to hunt in Maryland. When you buy your license, you get one buck tag. In some zones, you can buy a second buck tag. There are so many seasons and bag limits, depending on the zones you hunt. The best way to get the correct information is go to the State of Maryland’s webpage at http://dnr2.maryland.gov/huntersguide/Pages/default.aspx. The rules and regulations change each year. For instance, the western section of the state doesn’t have seasons and bag limits as liberal as the eastern part of the state does. The western region of the state is more mountainous and has fewer deer than the eastern area of Maryland. So, the number of deer you can take in the western part of the state isn’t as many as you can harvest in eastern Maryland.
Usually today, I harvest two or three deer during the archery season. I’ll take one or two deer during the muzzleloader season, and I may or may not hunt the regular gun season. When I was concentrating on taking large numbers of deer, I would harvest 15 to 20 deer per season. Most of that meat was donated to the food bank. But now that my children are grown, I don’t need much venison to feed everyone, and I'm a little older, I'm more selective of the deer I take and the number of deer I take.
I live next door to another Mossy Oak pro - Mike Monteleone. We hunt a little piece of property behind our houses that’s right next to the biggest portion of woods in our county. We have plenty of deer to hunt almost in our backyards. Mike and I both live on 5 acres each, and we have about 800 acres of private ground that we can hunt. Where we live, most all the farmers give archers permission to hunt. We have corn and soybeans growing all around us, and the deer eat a lot of the farmers’ crops. So, they're more than happy to have someone remove a portion of those surplus animals. An out-of-state bowhunter absolutely won’t have a problem finding a place to hunt here in Maryland.
Tomorrow: Big Bucks on Maryland's Eastern Shore