2020-2034 White-tailed Deer Management Draft Plan

​Online Public Comment Record

The public comment period opened on October 26, 2020 and closed on November 27, 2020


The plan uses the misleading adjective plentiful to describe the deer population at settlement. Deer were not abundant at settlement based on best available publications. For example, in a review paper by Knox (Knox, W.M. 1997. Historical changes in the abundance and distribution of deer in Virginia. pp 27-36. In: McShea, W.J., H.B. Underwood, and J.H. Rappole (eds.). The Science of Overabundance: Deer Ecology and Population Management. Smithsonian Books, Smithsonian Institution. Washington and London.), the white-tailed deer population prior to English arrival in 1607 was about 8.0 - 10.9 deer/square mile in neighboring and physiographically similar Virginia. Other papers provide lower estimates.  The plan should accurately reflect that the deer population at settlement was NOT plentiful, include a reference(s), and provide a deer density range based on best available literature. Knowing the natural deer density range is key to understanding the severity of the high levels of deer density beginning in the 1980s. For example, some natural areas in suburban landscapes in the piedmont of Maryland have deer densities exceeding 80 deer/square mile, or 8 times higher than before settlement; i.e., 8 times higher than the degree of herbivory that species were adapted to under natural pre-settlement conditions. And these unnaturally high levels have been in place for decades resulting in significant, long-term, adverse ecological impacts. Even if the current level of public hunting pressure stabilizes or increases, unnaturally high deer densities will continue based on population trend data presented in the plan. Consequently, public hunting will need to be supplemented by additional deer reduction tactics, such as periodic sharpshooter harvests, to reduce ecological damage and the loss of both common and rare species in natural areas. The plan recognizes this need on page 54 in the last objective of the Damage Goal; i.e., ... develop more effective management strategies to minimize deer damage. We support this component of the plan and recommend that it be given high priority. Respectfully submitted on behalf of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc. Laura Van Scoyoc, President


I hunt region B and A primarily public land and have seen the numbers decrease, especially in region B. I believe the doe limit is too high in region B. Also more opportunity to harvest doe on public land with rifle and muzzleloader in region A. DNR hands out crop damage permits too easily and I believe if landowner is having damage issues and receives permits they should be required to have their land open to public. Also provide more opportunities for youth who do not have access to private land. Maybe landowners who are having damage open up to youth. As an environmental science educator I understand the complexity of managing wildlife, especially in Maryland with such a diverse ecosystem but I see less and less youth participating in the sport. Thank you – C.F.

Please stop the excessive killing of does in region B. The deer hunting in Calvert and St. Mary's county is dismal to say the least. I hunted 70 times in 2019, on 39 of those hunts I didn't see a deer. 2020 isn't any better, 48 hunts and 34 of those without a deer sighting. The excessive doe harvest over the last 10 years has ruined a once great state to hunt in. The DNR allows baiting, crop damage permits, crossbow, HFTH food donations all the while telling hunters in region B that they can harvest 35 does a year. What kind of management plan is that? How does anyone believe that an animal that only breeds once a year can self-sustain under that amount of pressure? MD used to be a great state to bow hunt in but not anymore and it will continue to get worse unless a drastic reduction in the number of does hallowed to be harvested is reduced. Rethink the plan before there aren't any left. – J. P.

I would like to see the firearm season open at least a week earlier to coincide closer to the breeding season (Rut), which is all but done and over with during the firearm season as it stands right now. – D.C.

I understand the frustrations Marylanders have towards deer: hunters want more deer to hunt while residents living in suburbs, cities and farms want less deer eating crops landscapes and causing auto accidents. As a resident of Howard County and a master naturalist, I've heard many complaints about deer damage, auto accidents, Lyme disease. Nonetheless our county parks system has used these reasons to justify deer management programs starting in 1998. However, after nearly 22 years, I think it's time to focus on additional non-lethal solutions, primarily birth control in suburban/urban areas. I'm glad that the MD DNR has recognized Birth control/sterilization programs unlike other state DNRs (NJ, IN ) within the 2020-2034 draft. Howard County' s deer management program has reduced the deer population slightly but not to its goal of 15 per square mile (With Howard County hunts continuing, a 'magic bullet' to control deer remains elusive, Baltimore Sun, 2018). And that might change as additional habitat is lost to development. Its only success has been turning beloved county parks into hunting areas like Rockburn Park, and sharpshooting sites to kill deer, including the Robinson Nature Center (only 7 acres). Hunting and sharpshooting only increases deer populations due to compensatory reproduction as the remaining deer produce additional offspring due to a lack of competition for food and resources. Nonetheless that's why my neighbors still complain about damage. Rather than complain we've adapted using repellents and fences and have had no problems. Additionally Lyme Disease carrying ticks can also be found on mice, chipmunks and birds so hunting deer will not stop Lyme Disease. I think it's time Howard County and others should consider additional non-lethal methods including wildlife overpasses, reflectors for roads, 4 poster tick treatment systems to control ticks. And for those that hunt, there's already plenty of public county, state, federal (FWS) opportunities for hunting. We do not need any additional developed parks with facilities (trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, visitor centers, etc.) to be used- especially when more trail users (hikers, Bikers, Horseback Riders) and families are using the parks as an escape during the COVID 19 Pandemic. – J.T.


I don't know where to begin. I have been bow hunting in MD since 1993. I have kept detailed written records of each hunt for the entire time and I will tell you that the current dear herd in Calvert and St. Mary's counties has declined to a point that it is a challenge just to see a deer. I bow hunted 70 times in 2019 and 39 of those times I didn't even see a deer. 2020 isn't any better, I have hunted 46 times this season and 29 of those have been without a sights. It is absolutely discouraging to put so much time in and see so little. I have hunted the same properties for the last 15+ years and all used to have an ample number of deer, now there are very few. Can someone at the DNR please tell me why anyone would need to harvest 35 does a season? MD used to be a wonderful state to bow hunt in, but not anymore. Please change the laws and stop killing all the does. How does anyone think with baiting, crossbows, Sunday hunting and hunters for the hungry that the deer population can be self sustaining all the while killing all the female deer that only breed once a year. Allowing hunters to donate deer encourages hunters to shoot more deer just to kill them. I truly believe that the deer herd in these two counties is on the verge of collapse. If you know of somewhere in Calvert or St. Mary's counties that has too many deer, let me know. I truly love to bow hunt deer and MD used to be a great place to do that, but not anymore. – J.P.

I travel from Frederick to Poolesville via New Design Road, 85 S, and MD28 E. I always see dead deer carcasses on the side of the road. It is not safe for motorists.  I think there should be fewer deer. – L.N.


I believe that overall, the department has done an excellent job providing for harvest opportunities and balancing the needs of landowners, hunters, and other interested parties. That being said, I believe that it is vital to continue to expandSunday hunting on all private lands and any public land that receives funding via Pittman-Robinson. – S.S.


If the state wants to increase the deer harvest then I would suggest they extend the gun season. This is the most popular season and when the most deer are harvested. Maybe from the weekend after Thanksgiving thru all of December. Our weather patterns are changing and rain is very common, a major factor in decreased deer harvest. It would be nice if there was a one day trophy gun hunt during the rut, similar to the youth hunt but for everyone. Eight point minimum. Donating deer needs to be easier; the current set up can only handle so many deer. Especially since the largest harvest is during gun season. The deer processors are overloaded with work. I have received negative feedback from a deer processor over the volume of deer donated. My suggestions is to have a mobile processing trailer travel from county to county for processing. Ask for volunteers to help butcher the deer. Have special gun-doe only hunts in December thru January, each county has it's own weekend. I would volunteer to drive to another county to help process the deer for the day. That way, volunteers could hunt their county and still help process someone else's harvest on a different day. I think hunters would volunteer to help especially some of the hunt clubs. It would be a great transfer of knowledge and build some relationships. The state could also enjoy an increased deer harvest. I would also like to see the state ask for residents who would like a free deer to eat, be partnered with hunters in their area that would harvest and deliver the deer to them. There are citizens that are not in need and don't hunt but would like some venison. In areas that have abundant deer herds, the additional harvest would benefit the community, farmers and hunters. – J.W.


Sunday hunting opportunities on public lands need to be expanded.I scout public hunting areas on Sundays and these areas are empty. Previously, the argument has been made that Sundays public lands are be used by non hunters. Where is the documented empirical research data that shows how many non hunters use public lands on Sundays, which has been the argument for not allowing deer hunting on public lands on Sundays? It continues to remain unfair that land owners can hunt on Sundays and people that use public lands cannot. Open public lands to Sunday deer hunting! – S.W.

I would like to thank the hunters that are working to decrease the numbers of deer in Montgomery County. Our diminishing natural habitats have been ruined by the huge number of deer. I've noticed no oak, beech, maple or other tree saplings, few native shrubs and far fewer wildflowers in my area. I have to fence in all the native plants I grow on my wooded property. I wish people would realize that too many deer significantly impacts other wildlife such as birds and insects, and that we are their only predators. Please do more in the area of education so people would understand why we need to get and keep deer numbers LOW. Could the county help subsidize deer fencing to help bring back natural ecosystems, similar to the rain garden program? That could encourage people to plant natives (which would be part of the incentive). Thank you for your excellent website and great webinars (Kerry Wixted is wonderful). Sincerely, M.S.




​​In the last three years we have had unlimited doe crop damage permits on the farm I hunt we have harvested over 35 does from these permits, now the deer are very scarce on this farm and neighboring properties, the DNR hands these permits out without even monitoring the damage on a yearly basis, would like to see a review of these permits re-evaluated – D.C.


Simple solution. 1 buck per year 4pts on one side or more. Youth season does only. – C. B.​

I have nearly died from a deer tick disease, and our car was badly damaged in a collision with a deer. As a homeowner in Frederick we are constantly trying to protect our expensive and mostly native landscape plants, trees, and shrubs, and also our vegetable garden. A considerable size herd of fat deer roam freely along little Tuscarora Creek with the city limits of Frederick. If that were not enough, I volunteer as a master naturalist at county and state parks to remove invasive plant species. Deer selectively eat native plants and this allows non-native plants to quickly overrun parks and elsewhere. The deer's hooves and fur can carry seeds of invasive plants to areas of native vegetation and spread the problem. We have to be very vigilant when doing this Weed Warrior work so that we do not get ticks on our skin. I am asking that every effort be made to keep the deer population down to safe numbers for the citizens of our state. I have read that 5 deer/ square kilometer is a good goal. Thank you. –S. H.

​I have hunted deer in Garrett County for the past 40+ years. I usually hunt archery and firearm seasons. From my experience, I have seen and recorded seeing about 18 doe for every buck. I would like to see a straight six point restriction on bucks while expanding the restriction on does to at least one per season. Also, allow a hunter to take the one doe during the firearm season at any time instead of just the last two days. – M. S.


I would ask that you extend the rifle season by one week, preferably by starting the season one week earlier. The bag limit could be altered to adjust for the possibility of more deer being harvested and adjusted each year as needed. Extending the season would allow for the unpredictable weather in late November that adversely affects hunting as well as improving the chances for a hunter to harvest. In advancing the start of the rifle season it would better coincide with the rut, it seems as if the rut has advanced into earlier November in recent years. Thank you for your consideration. – B.B.


Deer numbers are excessive. This produces severe environmental degradation by reducing native plant species and endangers public health by promoting tick borne illness. Hunting is a money maker for the state, no doubt about that but who pays for the loss of native plant species and the serious medical problems the public suffers? If the true economic costs were factored in, the state would have a strong financial incentive to manage the deet numbers more responsibly and support the environment and health of the state. 5 deer per km2 should be the absolute maximum allowed anywhere based on solid research. – R. H.​




Are there practical contraceptives for the urban deer herd? Maybe you could trap and relocate  them to a butcher shop for distribution to the needy? How about some night hunting on public lands in urban areas, over bait with bow? The does will line up for free corn. Zone B, you need to harvest two does or you lose next year buck stamp eligibility? Hunter must mail in tail to DNR to confirm harvest. No false reporting. I think MD is confused on how to manage the deer herd. It needs more zones because Region B is too large. How can you place Prince George's county with Kent County for management? They are worlds apart in urban sprawl, population, attitude toward hunting, etc. I would like to see a lower buck harvest and encourage QDM. However, this would mean a greater need for harvest of does. I would kill more does if DNR would lower the buck harvest in my region. I could easily shoot ten does every year if I knew we were managing for larger bucks. I enjoy seeing deer but I would increase my  harvest in trade for quality bucks. I feel the online check in is nice but too easy to cheat/lie. Let's face it hunters, there are plenty who are dishonest. We can grow trophy bucks in MD, if we let them grow a couple more years. How about a line you could text a picture of your deer? – J.W.




I have hunted region A, specifically Garrett County exclusively, public land for the past 20 years. I would like to commend the DNR for trying keep the deer herd at its current size or increase it on public land. With that said, I have noticed the deer herd decrease on the previous WMA I hunted. Last year, I went to a new area that seems to have a much better population. I will say that the coyote population seems to be increasing in the past 20 years which is concerning. I think the current antler restriction that at least one buck having 3 pts on a side is fine. I am opposed to implementing a more strict antler restriction such as they have in Pennsylvania. I also would like to keep the buck limit at 2 or increase it back to 3. The last thing I will say is I absolutely love the early muzzleloader season. It is my favorite time of the year and I make a point to use vacation every year to hunt that season. Thank you for your hard work. – J.L.


Hello, the whitetail numbers in northern/western Frederick County (Sabillasville area) are not the same as the rest of Frederick County. I feel the number of deer allowed to be harvested is too high. Between the harvest amounts, coyotes and the paid shooters on government land, the numbers are nowhere near what they were or we are being told. The amount of mature trees with dense canopy is the main cause of little undergrowth for food on the parks not the deer herd. This affects our numbers not lower Frederick County’s numbers. I feel a smaller harvest number and an antler restriction similar to Pennsylvania would help. Thank you.




Please allow Sunday hunting statewide and reduce the 150 yard rule to 50 or 75 yards for archery only. This will allow hunters in urban areas to get in pockets of woods where urban deer congregate and significantly reduce the herd. – B.T.

Landowners are not properly monitored to insure they report their kills. They have nearly wiped out the population in some parts of Somerset co. I have found many that were shot and not harvested. Crop damage permits should be strictly limited and not used at night or 365 days a year. The current plans do not protect the hunters and result in fewer hunters and a loss of revenue all around. – K.R.

forests as much as they live all year round in the suburban neighborhoods. The current overpopulated deer herds spread disease, cause automobile accidents, cause damage to expensive home landscape shrubs and vegetable gardens. They are beyond being a nuisance. They are dangerous. We need more effective means of thinning out these herds and in neighborhoods where they reside. Give venison to food charities. - L. J.

I read the draft plan and agree with most of it. It is consistent with previous plans. Two points:-Please consider limiting deer management operations (even at the County level) to does only. By removing bucks, these operations aren't appreciably flattening the population curve, but they are reducing the recruitment and retention of hunters. A buck is what drives many people to hunt. Since Montgomery Parks started sharpshooting in the park adjacent to my property, I am seeing far fewer bucks. Fellow local hunters said the same thing. My trail cameras confirm the buck to doe ratio is terrible. I get one buck picture for every 500 doe pictures. It used to be 1/20 or 1/30 just a few years ago.-Lastly, DNR has to do a better job on the legislative front. Fostering relationships with our lawmakers is important. My state senator is adamantly against all forms of hunting. He would outlaw it if he could. Please try and reach out to them and educate them. – J. W.


No response needed for my comment. I am in full support of the plan. Excellent. Thanks for all the work to keep Maryland hunting opportunities well worth it. – R. McK.


I​ strongly feel that public land should have different bag limitations. The number of deer at all 4 of the public spots I hunt have drastically declined over the past 2 decades. All of these spots have also received much more pressure as private land privileges are on the decline. Add the fact that crossbows are legal for anyone all season, extended gun seasons, and increased coyotes = no more deer. – P.B.


Yes to Sunday hunting region b. antler size 6 points or more and should be wider than their ears. Oppose unlimited doe season. 1 buck per weapon. no bonus tag. – J. M.

I would like to voice my strong support for much more rigorous deer management. As a homeowner, gardener, and wildlife supporter, there are far too many deer coming through private property and in the Open Spaces in Columbia. They destroy our gardens, spread disease, and decimate the woodlands. Please, please, please, do something about this. – K.R.

I support the plan as outlined. It is very fair and balanced, even with the tip of the cap to the ridiculous non-lethal options to manage the deer herd. I would like to see the Department to make a more concerted, coordinated effort to standardize both the archery safety zone and Sunday hunting. I understand this is a legislative hurdle, but the county-by-county haphazard approach to these two issues is extremely frustrating for the average hunter. Please push the legislature for a 50-yard safety zone for archery (with an elevated position required for the 50-100 yard range if needed) and open every Sunday to hunting, at least on private property. I think the fears from various communities over sharing space with hunters are completely unfounded, which the facts back up, but those fears are held nonetheless. As someone who has very little access to private land, this would still limit me in my ability to utilize public lands, but maintaining high public support for hunting is also a worthy goal. I wish there were some way for the Department to somehow line up landowners with problem deer with hunters who meet certain requirements (i.e. have passed a shooter qualification, haven't received a citation, etc.) or work with MNCPPC to expand public hunting opportunities on their properties. Hunting access is clearly the biggest issue in the middle of the state, especially when the herd remains at persistently high (unacceptably high to many folk) levels. – J. H.

I live in southern Washington County, MD up the mountain on the west side of Rt 67. I am also a Master Naturalist & Frederick County Nature Educator at Catoctin Creek Nature Center. I have witnessed the devastation to our forest floor. There are no tree saplings, herbaceous perennials or native shrubs. There are, however invasives the deer don't touch-for instance: barberry, oriental bittersweet, stilt grass, honeysuckle, basket grass & much more....I counted 15 does one evening this spring driving up the mountain & everyone had twins. The owner of the property behind me has 60 acres & he can't make a dent in their population. In my small cul-de-sac 2 of my neighbors got Lyme Disease. The population in my humble opinion is much too large if the forest cannot regenerate its self. Please consider measures to secure the long term progress of these mountains and all the creatures that try to live here.That may include help for the owners of large properties that can't cull the deer at the rate needed. Thank you for your consideration, - D. S.

All seems great. Concern over enforcement feasibility of WMA access as it is largely impossible in parks already. In lieu of WMA pass perhaps a conservation tax of .1% could be applied across the state like Missouri. – S.C.

My impression is that there are far, far too many deer in Baltimore County. And that this overpopulation of deer has significant negative consequences for the environment and for the Bay. Every effort to reduce the population should be encouraged. Perhaps even year round open seasons. – W.C.


Please allow STATEWIDE Sunday deer hunting on private property. I live in Howard and can't hunt deer on my own property on Sundays. It's ridiculous. Stop pandering to the horse community. Safety is the #1 priority and that's why it should be allowed on private land. - Brian

Hi I am a serious hunter and in woods pretty much every day! I manage my propertys and only harvest older bucks and does! I run cameras all year round to keep track of my deer on property. I've noticed since we started this call in check in station the population went down! People are not calling in their game like they should be and their shooting younger bucks and checking them in as does! This is wrong and you cannot get an accurate number of deer harvest with this system! We need to go back to physically checking them in at your sporting store! Also I believe that we should make a size restriction on bucks! Too many young bucks are being killed! Needs to be outside spread of pass ears or something! Please consider what I’m suggesting to help keep our deer population and heard healthy! Thanks! – B. S.

I'd love to get into hunting in the state of Maryland however it's very confusing with all of the different dates times firearms limitations Arial limitations and all of those things. I understand that there is a huge difficulty with balancing firearms on the public with not scaring people; however, it is just so incredibly complicated that it makes it very frightening to attempt to get into. For example I live in Frederick and apparently if you're on the wrong side of this one Creek then you can't use a shotgun but if you're on the other side of the creek then you can. And I have zero sense of direction. I had to use Google maps to get out of a five-acre patch of woods in my neighborhood yesterday. – C.S.

Overall the DNR does a good job and run some great programs staff has always been very helpful and courteous. I suggest somehow making the dates, bag limits and the rules easier to understand or presented clearer, in its current form it might deter new hunters from getting started. Thank you for letting me participate. – N.B.

In this day and time with Covid and people not working. There is more need recreational hunting to supply red meat. Because of cost and beef available no need for sharp shooter as we are told about farm practice that they were In the area before people moving in complaining about farm practices. The deer were before the farms. Farmer should let neighbors hunt their farm for deer control and not charge a lot on money. There used to be hunters education in schools. There still should be. We have drug education in schools and there is no difference - they both can kill you and they should learn how to use and not use guns and hunting just as school do drugs. Some states allow students to miss school for the first week of deer season if they and their parents should to take advantage of that – D.W.

I hunt mostly in Allegany county I personally like the two-buck limit. I would however like one of the bucks to be at least 6 points or better. And I would like to see you be able to harvest a doe in each season (3 does total). I hunt private and public equally. There is too many does on both the big woods are over browsed. Baiting is pulling the deer from public and private I believe the money from baiting is dictating conservation. I can afford to bait but choose not to I personally know people who spend 100's to 1000's of dollars to do this that is crazy. Thanks for your time – A. L.

So in short what changes are proposed for the next 14yrs? I briefed through the DMP and couldn't find any real proposed changes to what the state is currently doing? I might have missed it since it is a large article? It appears that the majority of hunters and landowners alike are in favor of raising deer population and attempting to allow bucks to grow to some sort of maturity. If this is the general consensus why not propose a smaller bag limit and a larger antler restriction for all bucks or at least the second buck. It should be an antler restriction that will actually have some impact, not what the state is trying to do now. I understand that not everyone is trying to trophy hunt. The majority is also hunting for meat but the new age hunters are getting involved and if the state continues with its same regulations I’m afraid that the kids getting involved now will quickly lose attraction to hunting in Maryland especially in the Region A. – S. H.

I realize this is a management plan for whitetails but please do something about all the nonresidents hunting sika deer. Need a lottery or a 2-sika season limit. Blackwater needs to do something as well but I do understand its federal land so DNR is not in control of that. Maryland offers a lot of quantity hunting. What MD hunters need is quality hunting. – B.W.

I hunt in region A and have the last 18 years, and I feel like I definitely seen a change in the population. When I started hunting I feel like the population was a lot higher in this area. Now the population seems to be higher in the suburban areas, I see more deer driving to place I hunt then I do while hunting some days. As far as releasing predators if that is in the talks I don't see the point. I feel like the bear and coyote population is on the rise. My trail cameras anymore catch more predators then deer. With that being said you are going to start seeing the predators more in the suburban areas since it seems like the deer are moving in that area. With this predators are soon to follow putting pets and people in danger so releasing more predators into the wildlife is a danger in itself. As far as sterilization goes that's a waste of time and money. I have always said it would probably help if you put a 8 ft. chain-link fence along the interstate where ever possible to help keep deer off the interstate.  And build the natural bridges in those areas like they have in the south. I also like to see for non youths you should only be able to harvest does and 6 points and higher. Making it illegal to harvest button bucks and young bucks. – E.D.

Simplify regulations: 2 female, 2 male deer per season, Bow, muzzle loader, rifle, and primitive combined..total 4 Deer hunters choice of how. Region A. no more than one per day. Consolidated price available Reduced price for Senior citizens Disabled no fee – M.D.

I think region A should get more doe tags. Or go back to the old bag limits. - H.S.

Click here for more information.​​​​​