An­other deer sea­son starts

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­[email protected]­look.com

The sec­ond — and fi­nal — firearms deer sea­son opens to­day in Re­gion B, which in­cludes all of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties.

Hun­ters have an­other op­por­tu­nity to bag a deer to­day and to­mor­row. Sun­day, hunt­ing is al­lowed on pri­vate lands only. The firearms sea­son is the most pop­u­lar deer sea­son in Mary­land.

Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wildlife and Her­itage Ser­vice di­rec­tor Paul Peditto, “The re­sult­ing deer har­vest helps us meet our deer pop­u­la­tion ob­jec­tives in Re­gion B.”

The pre­lim­i­nary statewide num­bers for the first split of the firearms sea­son were re­leased last month. Hun­ters re­ported tak­ing 31,588 deer in the two-week sea­son, which was about eight per­cent lower than last year’s har­vest.

The num­ber of antlered deer in­creased slightly this year, with 13,262 har­vested dur­ing the sea­son. To put that num­ber in per­spec­tive, hun­ters in West Vir­ginia har­vested ap­prox­i­mately 13,000, on open­ing day of their state’s tra­di­tional buck firearm sea­son.

To­tal num­bers for deer har­vested in Mary­land are on track to be con­sis­tent or slightly lower than last year’s har­vest. Bad weather con­trib­uted to the de­crease in deer har­vested dur­ing the first split of the firearms sea­son.

Mary­land’s to­tal deer har­vest was 86,542 last year. In our neigh­bor­ing states, to­tals for last year were West Vir­ginia with 108,160, Vir­ginia with

189,730, Penn­syl­va­nia with 367,159, while Delaware set a new state record with 15,300.

Her­itage sea­son comes to West Vir­ginia

West Vir­ginia is try­ing some­thing new this month called Moun­taineer Her­itage Sea­son.

It goes without say­ing that if you live in West Vir­ginia, you bet­ter be a Moun­taineers fan. But in this case, par­tic­i­pants won’t be cheer­ing the West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­sity foot­ball team from the side­lines, they’ll be vy­ing for a deer or bear with prim­i­tive weapons, along the lines of what the orig­i­nal moun­taineers had avail­able.

This new hunt­ing sea­son will en­cour­age the cit­i­zens of West Vir­ginia to get out­doors and in touch with the ba­sics of na­ture, un­aided by our mod­ern ex­trav­a­gances.

The only weapons al­lowed dur­ing this sea­son are muz­zle-load­ing flint­lock or side lock per­cus­sion ri­fles without scopes and long or re­curve bow.

Most of the an­i­mals har­vested dur­ing this four-day hunt­ing sea­son are ex­pected to be deer, as bears should al­ready be in hi­ber­na­tion at the time the sea­son opens. This new hunt­ing sea­son is more of an op­por­tu­nity for hun­ters to get out­side and en­joy the out­doors rather than a culling method to con­trol the an­i­mal pop­u­la­tion.

Last year, West Vir­ginia DNR of­fi­cials sur­veyed hun­ters to gauge sup­port for this new sea­son. Sev­enty-eight per­cent were in fa­vor and, of the state’s deer hun­ters, 42 per­cent said they plan to hunt dur­ing the new sea­son. It will be in­ter­est­ing af­ter the dust (and ar­rows and muz­zle loads) set­tle, to look at the data gen­er­ated. I’m cu­ri­ous how many hun­ters par­tic­i­pate and the har­vest re­sults.

The Moun­tain State also de­buted a new fish­ing sea­son last sum­mer.

Savvy an­glers could try their hand at catch­ing cat­fish. Noodling — as this method is called — is be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. It sounds in­ter­est­ing, but I think I’ll stick with hook and line.

West Vir­ginia is in­deed keep­ing it wild and won­der­ful.

Changes com­ing for Mary­land fish­ing sea­son

Mary­land an­glers should ex­pect some changes to the 2019 fish­ing sea­son’s size and creel lim­its.

In­cluded in those changes, DNR will most likely be mov­ing for­ward with a four-fish per per­son creel limit for sheepshead.

Ac­cord­ing to Eric Wil­son, pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cer for DNR, recre­ational an­glers asked the de­part­ment to con­sider pre­cau­tion­ary reg­u­la­tions be­cause the per­cep­tion is that large catches of sheepshead by spear fish­er­men around jet­ties is caus­ing lo­cal­ized de­ple­tion of the fish.

Cur­rently, Mary­land groups sheepshead with 46 other species of fish as part of the snap­per/grouper com­plex. Un­der last year’s reg­u­la­tions, tech­ni­cally a per­son could keep 20 sheepshead per day. From some re­ports out of Ocean City, that num­ber is con­ceiv­able.

While NOAA fish­eries iden­ti­fies sheepshead as a species that does not need fed­eral man­age­ment, Vir­ginia adopted a four-fish creel based on in­put from an­glers and a con­stituent de­sire to be proac­tively cau­tious on this data-poor species. A four-fish limit would make Mary­land’s reg­u­la­tions con­sis­tent with Vir­ginia’s.

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