The future of the outdoors in Maryland is secure
Turkey season always seems too short. There just aren’t enough weekends from April 18 to May 23 even with Sunday hunting allowed in all three counties of Southern Maryland. You might just miss the entire spring season if you blink.
I marvel at how many wild turkeys that I can observe around my home without even trying to look for them. Usually they can be seen along the side of the road, at the edges of the woods, and in the swaths of scrub grass under power line towers. It’s no wonder that 2017 is the third consecutive year of record spring turkey harvests across Maryland with a total of over 4,000 turkeys harvested.
The totals in all three counties in Southern Maryland exceeded last year’s harvest totals. Garrett, Washington and
Frederick counties reported the most turkeys, which is no surprise. But what might be a bit of a stunner is that Charles County reported the fourth highest total.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources attributes the rise in numbers to all-time high populations of wild turkeys in some places. I would also hazard a guess that the development of the land with new housing tracts and shopping centers is carving up and restricting the size of the areas hunters might find them in as well.
One way DNR encourages young people to partake in the tradition of hunting is to designate special Junior Hunt days for hunters 16 and
younger to take to the field with a mentor and try their luck at bagging a turkey, deer, duck or goose. This spring, 230 youth hunters across Maryland were successful during the Junior Turkey Hunt held April 15 and 16.
Another way is through the Junior Hunter Field Day program organized by DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.
The men and women of the Wildlife and Heritage Service are well aware that our youth are the future of wildlife conservation. They hold this program in several locations throughout the state every year to provide a forum for teaching hunting skills and safety, along with just enjoying the outdoors.
This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter was fortunate to attend the southern region Junior Hunter Day, graciously hosted by the Stoney Creek Fishing and Hunting Club in Pasadena.
The men and women of Stoney Creek rolled out the red carpet for our next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. They coordinated with DNR staff and provided the facilities, ranges, weapons, ammo and the qualified and experienced range staff and instructors to make the whole event go like clockwork. I like to say that it takes a whole lot of work to make things look
that easy, and they did it all with a smile.
Every child had the chance to partake in shooting a compound bow, .22 rifles, trap, and to try their skill at shooting a moving airborne target with a bow and arrow. The program was completely free and open to children 8 to 16. A nice lunch of allyou-could-eat pizza was provided as well.
However, judging from the response and discussions amongst the kids, although everyone enjoyed the day’s activities, I don’t think any of
those things were rated as their favorite experience for the day.
That’s because, at heart, what every kid likes is a great dog. And great dogs were provided by members of the Maryland Waterfowler’s Association. They kicked off the day for everyone with a demonstration on the finer points of duck hunting and retrieving.
Several dogs were run through their paces and after they were done each kid had a favorite dog. If you haven’t seen a really well-trained retriever in action, you need to find the time to make it happen. It was rather inspiring to
see how well they took direction from their master.
My daughter enjoyed all parts of the event, and especially the dogs, but her interest in shooting the .22 rifles is something we’re going to pursue here at home this summer. I’ll have to make a priority of getting some additional shooting time wedged into our summer schedule, which of course I welcome.
My favorite part of the event was getting the chance to see our state’s next generation of hunters up close. If you are interested in my take, the future of the outdoors in Mar yland
About 25 percent of the group were girls, which I really like to see, and even better about 100 percent of the group would have made you proud. Don’t believe everything you hear about the sad state of our youth. These kids were well behaved, smart and had parents that instilled proper manners I heard plenty of, “Yes, sir” and, “No, sir” and, “Thank you, please” that Saturday.
If you have any youngsters in your life who might enjoy such an event, check the DNR website periodically at http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/
Education/JrHunterFieldDays.aspx. These programs are held throughout the state every year and are a good opportunity for kids to learn more about hunting and the outdoors.
Although the southern region event has already come and gone, there are two more dates, in Cecil County and Washington counties, later this summer and would be well worth the drive. Many thanks to the Wildlife and Heritage Service staff and Stoney Brook. Mission accomplished.
Support the ‘round up’ campaign
During the month of June, Bass Pro Shops is asking customers to support the Quality Deer Management Association through the “round up” campaign at all store locations across the United States.
Customers are invited to donate their change to help QDMA’s mission of ensuring the future of white-tailed deer, conserving wildlife habitat and passing down our hunting heritage to youth. QDMA will receive 100 percent of the money customers donate at the cash register, and Bass Pro Shops will match 50 percent of the donated total at the end of the month.