Wall Hangers: Maryland

Eastern Shore

While some suburban areas in Maryland are overrun with deer, the population of the upper Eastern Shore counties of Cecil, Kent, Queen Annes, and Talbot is at just the right level-and rich with big bucks.

"Age-structure data indicates that the number of antlered deer 21/2 years or older in this region's population varies between 37 and 47 percent," says state deer biologist Doug Hotton. One of the reasons it's so high is that hunters in this coastal-plain area are willing to shoot does, taking pressure off the bucks. Over half the harvest consists of antlerless deer, and the buck-to-doe ratio is an incredible 1 to 2. Other reasons for the large-racked bucks: rich soils; large farms that grow soybeans, corn, and wheat; mild winters; and abundant woodlots for cover.

Locations that offer good public hunting include Earlville Wildlife Management Area and C&D; Canal Lands in Cecil County, Millington WMA and Sassafras River Natural Resources Management Area in Kent County, and Wye Island NRMA in Queen Annes.

A 130- to 140-class buck is a real possibility here. Some locals hold out for a 150-class deer or higher. B&C; bucks are taken every season, such as William Shields' 1993/8 nontypical, killed in 2001 in Talbot County. Last season a pending state-record typical was shot in Kent County that netted a whopping 194, and Steve Pesterman took a 190-gross-score 14-point nontypical Pope and Young buck in Talbot County.

Nonresident license: $155 with deer stamp
410-260-8100; www.dnr.state.md.us