Bill To Allow Bow Hunters To Carry Handguns While In The Woods Supported By Frederick County Delegation

Supporters say they would use the handguns to protect themselves from other animals during deer hunting season.

Sen Bill Folden                                                     Sen Karen Lewis Young

(Photoes from the Md. General Sssembly) 

Annapolis, Md (KM) A bill covering bow hunters is part of the Frederick County Legislative Package. The measure was endorsed by a majority of local lawmakers during their meeting last Friday.

It’s sponsored by State Senator Bill Folden. “They want to be able to carry openly in those areas for their own safety against other animals that might otherwise like to harm them while they’re tracking or securing the deer that they’ve taken down with a bow,” he said

Folden said  this is not a statewide open carry law, and bow hunters would only carry these firearms while in the woods during deer hunting season. Some of these animals which may want to harm deer hunters are bears or coyotes.

State Senator Karen Lewis Young posed this question. “How many incidents have there been of a hunter feeling unsafe or threatened by another animal that was actually charging them or coming to close to them while bow hunting,” she asked,

Senator Folden said the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has not documented such incidents. “You can say they are happening and that they have happened, but we’re not having a documented journal of these incidents,”: he responded.

Delegation Chairman Jesse Pippy expressed support for this bill. “When you’re deer hunting in most cases, you’re strapped in a tree 20 to 30 feet on the ground; and bears climb trees,” Pippy said. “And if you Google bear encounters, deer hunter- bear encounters, and if you watched YouTube today, you’d be shocked at how terrifying that situation is.”

The current law says DNR cannot prohibit  deer hunters who use bows from  openly carrying  a firearm while in the woods during hunting season. That’s currently practice in Garrett and Allegany Counties, and western Washington County. This bill would extend that practice to the remainder of Washington County, and Frederick County.

“We’re seeing a larger bear population spread further east from those counties that are originally designed,” he said. “So  I think this would fall in line with the objective   you’re trying to accomplish,” said Delegate Christopher Bouchet, who represents Frederick and Carroll Counties.

Senate Lewis Young had proposed a motion to hold off on a  vote of this bill until lawmakers hear from the   Department of Natural Resources.. That motion was voted down.

Support for this legislation now moves it through the General Assembly  where it will undergo hearings, and a vote.

By Kevin McManus