Deer numbers solid during firearms season despite bad weather
Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources has announced that hunters reported taking 31,588 deer during the state’s twoweek firearms season. The total was eight percent lower than last year’s official harvest of 34,502. Bad weather during the prime Saturday hunt days contributed to the decline in many parts of the state.
More than 4,400 deer were taken on the two Sundays during the season, representing 14 percent of the total harvest. Sunday hunting is currently permitted on select Sundays in 20 of 23 counties.
Hunters reported taking 13,262 antlered deer during the season, up slightly from last year’s official total of 12,767. The antlerless harvest decreased from 21,735 last year to 18,326 this year.
Sika deer represented 502 of the total antlered harvest and 560 of the total antlerless harvest. Of those 560, 539 were taken in Dorchester County, which bucked trends and saw a 20.2 percent increase in its sika harvest.
In western Maryland (Region A), hunters reported taking 4,731 white-tailed deer, a five percent increase from last year’s harvest of 4,498. The region’s harvest was comprised of 2,903 antlered and 1,828 antlerless deer. In the remainder of the state (Region B), the white-tailed deer harvest decreased 10 percent from last year’s har vest of 30,004 to 26,857 deer this year. The Region B total included 10,359 antlered and 16,498 antlerless deer.
On our Mid-Shore, the take was as follows (antlered, antlerless, percentage of change from last year):
Caroline County: 416, 905, -0.8
Dorchester: 382, 619, -6.1; sika: 459, 539, 20.2 Kent: 449, 859, -10.3 Queen Anne’s: 479, 904, -19.8
Talbot: 341, 788, -7.5
Modern Fish Act passes On Monday, December 17, the U.S. Senate passed the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520) by unanimous consent, which was followed just days later by House passage on Wednesday, December 19.
So, for the first time ever, a sportfishing-focused bill is headed to the President’s desk to be enacted into law.
The Modern Fish Act, introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.), recognizes in federal law the differences between recreational and commercial fishing and hopefully will put federal management on a path to improving the way our fisheries are managed.
According to Jeff Angers of the Center for Sport Fishing Policy, the act encourages the inclusion of state-driven data collection programs and electronic reporting. The legislation aims to improve the accuracy and timeliness of anglers’ harvest estimates, and ultimately better align fishing regulations with what anglers are actually catching.
The Modern Fish Act requires the National Academies of Sciences and the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct in-depth studies in areas that affect public access to America’s public fisheries resources.
What will happen as a result remains to be seen, but we can thank Congress for doing the right thing here. I did not see the bipartisan effort covered on any mainstream media outlets, but I don’t look at much TV these days except for sports.
Fishing report On the Chesapeake Bay, action, to say the least, has really dropped off, and many anglers have shifted to species like perch and pickerel in tributaries. That being said, die-hard anglers are still catching them as stripers continue to feed despite falling temperatures. Casting to structure will catch them as well as trolling deep if you know where they’re hanging out.
On the freshwater scene, recent rainfall has been a downer for action in many rivers and streams. When water flows and levels
subside, anglers should find pickerel willing to bite as they continue to be aggressive despite cold temperatures. It’s usually a good tactic to target areas
with decaying lily pads and other vegetation. Tuckahoe Creek, Wye Mills Lake, Unicorn Lake, and the Choptank River are all good places to check out.
Crappie and yellow perch can also be targeted this time of year. They’ve generally moved to deeper water due to falling temperatures
and increased runoff. Minnows and jigs worked under slip bobbers can be an effective technique for catching them.
On the Atlantic Coast, striped bass season for surf anglers seems to be a bust. The stripers have apparently cruised past us outside federal limits and are reportedly
circling around the Cape Charles area at the mouth of the Chesapeake.
Tautog are providing some action at wreck sites off the coast, with sand fleas and green crab baits luring some large ones over 10 pounds. According to FishTalk magazine, Ken Westerfield reeled in a 17-pound,
4 oz. tog on 15-pound test while aboard the Fish Bound out of Ocean City.
Duck blind know-it-all Leucism is an abnormal condition of reduced pigmentation affecting animals, such as birds, mammals, and reptiles,
that is marked by overall pale color or patches of reduced coloring. It is caused by a genetic mutation that inhibits melanin and other pigments from being deposited in feathers, hair, or skin.
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Kent Island’s Hadyn Blanchard, left, bids to improve on a fourth-place finish at states.