Doe Harvest Challenge scheduled for Jan. 4-6
OCEAN CITY, Md. — Lower Eastern Shore farmers fed up with crop damage caused by deer have organized a Doe Harvest Challenge to incentivize hunters to help control the whitetail deer population.
The challenge period is scheduled for Jan. 4-6, the last days of the area’s antlerless deer firearms season, and offers $10,000 in prize money to participating hunters with no entry fee.
For each doe or antlerless deer brought to one of four designated check in stations, hunters will receive a ticket with a duplicate ticket placed in a drawing.
Once the challenge is closed, ten tickets will be drawn, each winning $1,000.
Talking to farmers at the recent Maryland Farm Bureau annual convention, Wicomico County Farm Bureau President Charles Wright said the challenge was spurred when he got repeated calls from fellow farmers in the summer pleading for some action to address crop damage from deer.
In August, Wright said a tri-county meeting was held for affected farmers coordinated by the Lower Shore county farm bureaus, Maryland Farm Bureau and Maryland Department of Natural Resources representatives. Using DNR maps indicating state and federal owned lands, areas of extreme crop damage were determined.
Wright said with each farmer pinpointing where their crops have been hurt, damage was rampant throughout the counties but was considerably worse on property adjacent to state and federally owned lands.
Though the public tracts are open to hunting, Wright said interior access is limited and hunters typically stay around the edges.
With sponsorship from the Maryland Grain Producers Association, MidAtlantic Farm Credit and the Maryland Food Bank, the Lower Shore farm bureaus amassed the sizable prize bounty to attracted hunters and keep it free to enter.
“It’s free,” Wright said, plainly. “We want you to shoot deer.”
He added the farm bureaus set a goal to get 300 deer harvested through the challenge.
Deer must be harvested in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties only, according to the challenge rules.
Challenge check-in stations are at Winks Sporting Goods in Princess Anne, Sea Hawk Sports Center in Pocomoke City, Long Horn Butcher Shop in Pittsville and Off the Neck Game & Butcher Shop in Mardela Springs.
Deer entered in the challenge can also be donated to the Maryland Food Bank with now processing fee.
For more information, visit the Wicomico Farm Bureau Facebook page or contact Wright at 410-726-3482.