Small game sea­son un­der­way as squir­rels look for nuts

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In case you didn’t know, squir­rel sea­son opened on Sept. 3 and runs through Feb. 28 in all coun­ties, with a bag limit of six per day.

Squir­rels are man­aged by the DNR as small game, which in­cludes crows, pheas­ant, quail, rab­bits and ruffed grouse.

You’ll find squir­rels very ac­tive this time of the year, look­ing for and stash­ing nuts to try to re­lo­cate dur­ing the win­ter. Squir­rels end up in­ad­ver­tently plant­ing thou­sands of trees each year by sim­ply for­get­ting where they put their acorns.

Of course, squir­rel sea­son on the shore does not in­clude the unique Del­marva fox squir­rel, which ap­pears to be re­bound­ing from habi­tat de­struc­tion.

Crow sea­son started Aug. 15 and runs through March 15. Hunt­ing for ruffed grouse, which can be found in western Mary­land, opens Oct. 1. East­ern cot­ton­tail rab­bit sea­son starts on Nov. 5.

Some gen­eral rule re­minders (there are oth­ers) for small game:

• Daily small game shoot­ing hours are one half hour be­fore sun­rise to one half hour af­ter sun­set.

• A hunter must carry per­sonal photo iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (such as a driver’s li­cense) or a sec­ondary form of pos­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion while hunt­ing.

• Writ­ten per­mis­sion is re­quired to hunt on pri­vate land. • A hunt­ing li­cense is re­quired to hunt small game in Mary­land, with some ex­cep­tions.

• Flu­o­res­cent or­ange cloth­ing is re­quired to hunt small game in Mary­land ex­cept crows. The use of de­coys, calls, and/or record­ings may be used for crow hunt­ing.

• The head, plumage, and feet shall re­main at­tached to all pheas­ants to per­mit iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of species and sex while be­ing trans­ported from the place where killed to the place of fi­nal dis­po­si­tion. This does not per­tain to cap­tive-reared pheas­ants taken on Reg­u­lated Shoot­ing Ar­eas.

• It is against the law to hunt any an­i­mal other than deer on the first day of Deer Firearms Sea­son, ex­cept sea ducks in the Sea Duck Zone.

• Firearms, air ri­fles, and archery equip­ment may be used to hunt small game.

• A shot­gun may not hold more than three shells in the mag­a­zine and cham­ber com­bined.

• Tele­scopic and laser sights may be used on all de­vices le­gal for hunt­ing small game.

• It is il­le­gal to have a loaded firearm in, on, or lean­ing against any ve­hi­cle. This in­cludes am­mu­ni­tion in the mag­a­zine or a muz­zleloader ready to fire.

• All cross­bows should have a work­ing safety.

• It is un­law­ful to have a loaded cross­bow in, on or lean­ing against any ve­hi­cle. A cocked cross­bow with­out a bolt or ar­row in the fir­ing po­si­tion is con­sid­ered to be un­loaded.

• It is un­law­ful to cast the rays of an ar­ti­fi­cial light from a ve­hi­cle on woods, fields, or­chards, live­stock, wild mam­mals or birds, dwellings or build­ings.

Fish­ing re­port

The mid­dle Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­gion has plenty of ac­tion lately as a mix of striped bass, blue­fish and Span­ish mack­erel ac­tively chase schools of bait. Most of the striped bass are from 12 to 16 inches in length and tend to be the ones seen on the sur­face chas­ing schools of bay an­chovies. Larger striped bass can some­times be found un­der­neath the sur­face ac­tion by jig­ging or by live-lin­ing spot or trolling along chan­nel edges. The 30-foot chan­nel edge from Dolly’s Lump south to Thomas Point has been a pop­u­lar place to live-line as well as off Poplar Is­land and the False Chan­nel.

Trolling a mix of small Drone spoons, buck­tails, and sur­gi­cal tube lures be­hind plan­ers and in­line weights has been a good way to catch fish along chan­nel edges and near break­ing fish.

Cooler wa­ter tem­per­a­tures in the tidal rivers will help re­vive the shal­lowwa­ter fisher y for striped bass in the next week or so. Top­wa­ter lures are the fa­vorite for this type of fish­ing along likely look­ing shore­line on a high fall­ing tide in the morn­ings and evenings. White perch can also be found in these same ar­eas and can be tar­geted with lighter tackle, spin­ners and small jigs.

Bot­tom fish­ing for white perch has also been very good in the deeper wa­ters of the lower tidal rivers over good oys­ter bot­tom. A mix of spot, croaker, north­ern puffers and the oc­ca­sional small red drum or sea trout may also round out the mix.

Far­ther south, large red drum con­tinue to pro­vide ex­cit­ing catch-and-re­lease ac­tion in the vicin­ity of Buoy 72, the Tar­get Ship, and the HS Buoy. Most are be­ing caught by trolling large spoons but jig­ging when schools can be lo­cated is also ef­fec­tive. There are still some co­bia in the re­gion and they are be­ing caught by chum­ming near the Tar­get Ship or far­ther south be­low Smith Point.

Recre­ational crab­bing has been good to ex­cel­lent in most re­gions of the bay. The up­per bay tidal rivers are pro­vid­ing the best crab­bing of the sea­son and the mid­dle and lower bay re­gions have been ex­cel­lent.

On the fresh­wa­ter scene, small ponds are pro­vid­ing plenty of good large­mouth bass fish­ing. Tar­get­ing shal­low grass and struc­ture with frogs and pop­pers pro­vides exploding sur­face strikes that help de­fine what large­mouth bass fish­ing is all about.

On the At­lantic Coast, a mix of king­fish, blow­fish, croaker, small blue­fish, and floun­der are still be­ing caught in the surf. Some nice floun­der are be­ing caught on the nearshore shoal ar­eas and the wreck and reef sites. Off­shore at the canyons, white mar­lin catches have been very good with mul­ti­ple re­leases be­ing com­mon. A mix of medium-sized yel­lowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, wa­hoo, and blue mar­lin round things out.

Duck blind know-it-all

Flamin­gos can only eat when their head is up­side down.

CHRIS KNAUSS

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