Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

April 21, 2012

Stuffing 10 pounds of outdoor news in a 5-pound bag

— Pardon me if I use this Sunday to sit back and take a breath.

Wow. I don’t remember any period of of time that has offered as much hard news in the world of hooks and bullets as has the recent few months.

The Maryland General Assembly session alone was loaded with stories, stories such as the whopping increase in hunting license fees. That potentially large boost was eventually whittled substantially before being voted into the trash basket.

When I saw in January that bills were introduced to allow bowhunters in Almost Maryland to carry handguns for protection from bears, I thought the legislation would see as much light of day as Christopher Lee in one of his toothy 1950s movies.

I was wrong. The legislation died in the House, for sure, but not before being passed by the Senate. It was like losing a 2-1 baseball game rather than being blown out 15-3. The result was the same, but the hurt was greater. Common sense almost prevailed.

And how about this whole turkey and deer hunting thing on Sundays? I suggest that the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service provide us with a color-coded map that shows us which counties can be hunted on which Sundays on either public or private lands.

Also, the Rocky Mountain elk reintroduction thing kept hanging on. Finally, a telephone survey began to check the pulse of Marylanders about the possibility.

I guess we’ll start to find out more about the effort this summer, maybe even having public meetings.

What else recently?

Maryland DNR has a new hunt/fish license selling system. The owners of the Bassin’ Box in LaVale say “it’s lousy.” See my column of April 8.

Oh. Of course. We got new hunting regulations in Maryland.

You won’t notice any change in Almost Maryland when it comes to deer.

The remainder of the state had the buck limit slashed, but still gets one more antlered deer than us hillrats.

I wish Region A could have gotten the extra buck tag like Region B.

That tag can be used in any season the hunter chooses.

I’ve told the WHS for years that I’d like to be able to whack two bucks with my bow and arrows. Just my personal opinion of course.

And how ‘bout those crazy Maryland fisheries guys, telling us that brook trout populations in the Savage River drainage are worse than ever following five years of no-bait, no-kill regulations, but then assuring us in February that they will keep those regulations anyway.

Let’s not let science interfere.

I don’t know about you, but I am finding West Virginia’s new deer hunting regulations as difficult to understand as when and where you can buy beer to go in Pennsylvania. I guess most people only hunt in one location and once they learn the rules for that hillside there is no reason for additional education.

But for the guy who gets around when deer hunting, you better make sure which ridge you are on before you squeeze that trigger at a doe or buck.

Wildlife Biologist Rich Rogers told me he is on a team of wildlife managers tasked with simplifying the deer hunt regs. Good. I wouldn’t want them to become like Maryland’s trout regulations where an angler needs to keep a lawyer on retainer.

And, although there has not been any big bear news in Maryland, we are awaiting it. Sometime in the next month or three we will have the results of the newest how-many-bears-are-in-Maryland study.

I am eager to see if the bear hair counters agree with my road-mortality survey that indicates we have between 1,900 and 3,040 bruins in the state. The last official count — six years ago — was 600ish.

There was some other bear news recently, though. The WHS said a new formula will be used to issue bruin hunting permits, with more of them going to people who live in Almost Maryland and know how to hunt.

How do you make a bear rug? You start with a dead bear.

Our column about Allegany County District Court Judge Edward Malloy Jr.’s ruling that Maryland Natural Resources Police officers have every right to enter private property (not counting houses and areas close to houses) any time they want received a good bit of attention and caused a fair amount of feedback.

Malloy, of course, was simply localizing much legal precedent related to the Fourth Amendment and its association with legal and illegal searches.

It was Almost Maryland’s first year of deer hunting after chronic wasting disease was confirmed in an Allegany County buck.

“Big whoop,” seemed to be the reaction of hunters. The WHS couldn’t even get them to bring their killed and tagged deer to be checked for the disease.

It’s gobbler season

There will be no Outdoors page on May 6,13 or 20.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
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