Fall is com­ing

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors @out­look.com

By this time in Au­gust, the grass in my front yard is usu­ally brown and scorched dry from the heat and sun. This sum­mer’s fre­quent rain­storms, how­ever, have been a wel­come treat.

While I’ve got a rain barrel on ei­ther side of the house, rarely have I needed use any of the wa­ter they col­lect. It’s been a rel­a­tively easy gar­den­ing sum­mer.

Just lately, though, it’s started to feel a lit­tle fall-ish. The sun’s rays aren’t as po­tent as they were a month ago. And you may have no­ticed, the sun it­self is ris­ing later each day.

Back in June, the early morn­ing sun­shine stream­ing through the win­dows would cut short any week­end sleep-ins I was hop­ing to en­joy. By the end of Au­gust, sun­rise will be al­most a half-hour later than it was in the be­gin­ning of the month. And by the end of Septem­ber, sun­rise will take place af­ter 7 in the morn­ing.

Back to school is on ev­ery­one’s minds these days, and if you went into any stores last week, you prob­a­bly saw that most sum­mer items are on clear­ance now. They’ve got to make room on the shelves for fall and Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions.

A few stores have jumped the gun and put out the Christ­mas stuff al­ready. No one can hon­estly be ready for that. It hasn’t even been La­bor Day yet.

There is a lot to look for­ward to in South­ern Mary­land in late sum­mer and fall. Crabs are at their peak now: big, heavy and tasty. You can even catch your own with­out any li­cense, a max­i­mum of two dozen crabs from shore or boat. The min­i­mum size (mea­sured from tip to tip of the spikes) is 5 1/4 inches min­i­mum. All fe­males are throw­backs for recre­ational crab­bers.

Fall usu­ally of­fers up some of the very best fish­ing in our re­gion, too. As Au­gust pro­gresses in South­ern Mary­land, the tran­si­tion to fall fish­ing gets un­der­way. By the end of this month, gen­eral an­gling ac­tion out of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay will be dazzling, with speck­led trout round­ing out the mix of blues, mack­erel and rock­fish.

It’s hard to pre­dict whether this Oc­to­ber will be a ban­ner month for those mon­ster rock­fish mi­grat­ing to their win­ter grounds. If you’re an op­ti­mist, per­haps the cooler tem­per­a­tures this sum­mer will trans­late into ex­cel­lent rock­fish op­por­tu­ni­ties soon.

Hunters have a lot to look for­ward to next month. The statewide dove sea­son starts on Sept. 1. If you weren’t aware, Charles County has three ar­eas open to the pub­lic for dove hunt­ing: Myr­tle Grove, Cedar Point and Chi­ca­muxen. The daily bag limit for doves is 15 and the pos­ses­sion limit is 45.

The first split lasts un­til Oct. 14. Dur­ing this first split only, the of­fi­cial shoot­ing hours will be from noon un­til sun­set. The sec­ond and third splits of the sea­son will be Oct. 26 to Nov. 18 and Dec. 16 to Jan. 6. Shoot­ing hours will be one-half hour be­fore sun­rise to sun­set.

Canada goose early res­i­dent

sea­son will also open in Septem­ber. In Calvert and St. Mary’s coun­ties and the eastern part of Charles County, the sea­son runs Sept. 1 to 15. The por­tion of Charles County west of U.S. Route 301 stays open un­til Sept. 25. In both zones, the daily bag limit is eight and pos­ses­sion limit is 24. Shoot­ing hours are the same for both zones, one-half hour be­fore sun­rise to one-half hour af­ter sun­set. Shot­guns ca­pa­ble of hold­ing more than three shells may be used dur­ing the Septem­ber sea­son only.

Hunters are re­quired to have a valid hunt­ing li­cense and to carry per­sonal photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion

such as a driver’s li­cense while in the field. To hunt for mi­gra­tory birds, you must pur­chase a Mary­land Mi­gra­tory Game Bird Stamp through the Com­pass Por­tal, a De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ser­vice Cen­ter or a hunt­ing and fish­ing li­cense agent. Hunters don’t have to pos­sess or sign the ac­tual stamp, but must have the re­ceipt show­ing proof of pur­chase and HIP cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in their pos­ses­sion while hunt­ing.

Hunters 16 and older are also re­quired to pur­chase a Fed­eral Mi­gra­tor y Bird Hunt­ing and Con­ser­va­tion Stamp to hunt brant, coots, ducks and geese. In ad­di­tion to the usual places you can pur­chase li­censes, this stamp is also avail­able at the post of­fice. If you’re a con­ser­va­tion-minded

cit­i­zen, pick one up next time you stop by the post of­fice, even if you have no plans to ever go hunt­ing. The pro­ceeds from the stamp are used to buy and pro­tect land for bird habi­tat.

The rules re­quire that the fed­eral stamp must be in the hunter’s pos­ses­sion and signed in ink when hunt­ing wa­ter­fowl. The pur­chase code and re­ceipt will be ac­cepted as proof of pur­chase for 45 days, but af­ter that pe­riod ex­pires, the hunter must carry the ac­tual signed stamp in the field.

The guides at Life Out­doors Un­lim­ited (240-447-2206) cater to peo­ple who en­joy both fish­ing and hunt­ing with their “Cast & Blast” trips on the up­per Po­tomac River dur­ing Septem­ber.

They launch a jet boat — while all dressed up in cam­ou­flage — be­fore dawn. The boat has fish­ing rods, de­coys, shot­guns and lunch/drinks ready to go. They set up for first flight, then fish in the open while mon­i­tor­ing the sky­line. These trips give sports­men the unique op­por­tu­nity to bag a Canada goose and catch a qual­ity small­mouth bass in the same day.

And if you’re think­ing you might like to try your luck for one of the per­mits for the black bear hunt, that takes place in the western part of the state in Oc­to­ber, you have un­til 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31 to put your name in the hat along with about 5,000 other hope­ful hunters vy­ing for one of the 750 per­mits. Hunters can ap­ply for

the lot­ter y on­line, by phone, at a DNR ser­vice cen­ter or at a hunt­ing and fish­ing li­cense agent. There’s a $15 lot­ter y ap­pli­ca­tion fee.

Yes, fall is around the cor­ner, and it’s time to start think­ing about what you’ll be do­ing in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. But while Au­gust is still here, let’s en­joy the sun on our faces, fresh veg­eta­bles straight from the gar­den, grilling on the deck, pic­nics out­side, splash­ing in the pool, lazy after­noons in the ham­mock, warm nights on the front porch watch­ing the fire­flies, bon­fires at the beach and all the sum­mer­time pas­times we can cram into the next cou­ple weeks.

It’ll be jacket weather be­fore you know it.

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