Cumberland Times-News

August 4, 2012

Bear hunting quota and stuff

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— If you have been following the Maryland bear hunting story since 2004, your first reaction may have been “wow” when you read recently that the harvest quota for the upcoming hunt will be 80 to 110 bears.

That was my initial reaction too.

But then I started to look a little closer.

The wow factor comes into play when you compare the lower end of the 2011 harvest range, that being 50, to the upper end of the 2012 harvest range, that being 110.

That’s a whopping difference of 60 bruins.

But when you compare the upper end of the 2011 harvest range, that being 80, with the lower end of the 2012 range, that being 80, there is no difference at all.

The key to the whole bear harvest thing is the timing used by the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service to stop the hunt.

In 2011, the hunt lasted four days and ended after 65 bears had been killed. Had hunting been allowed on the fifth day, a Saturday, the harvest would have moved a little more toward the max of 80 bears for that year.

Biologist Harry Spiker said at the time that Saturday was the opening day of turkey season and there was concern that turkey hunters in the woods would move a lot of bears, thus putting them in front of bear hunters’ sights.

The potential was there to exceed the 80 limit, according to Spiker.

I don’t agree with either that theory or decision, but then I’m not the wildlife biologist.

So, here comes the 2012 hunt.

The harvest range covers 30 bears, whereas during the past three hunts the range has covered 25 bruins. For example, in 2011 it was 55-80.

This will be the state’s ninth bear hunt since the season was revamped in 2004 after a moratorium of a half-century.


I was going fishing the other day and had to drive through a highway construction zone. The guy holding the “Slow” sign was waving at me to increase my speed.

You can’t make this stuff up.

What’s up with elk?

Heard from Bill Miles of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation that come September there will be a public forum here in Allegany County to talk about the possible reintroduction of Rocky Mountain elk into Almost Maryland.

Am awaiting details.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is funding the investigation. The sportsmen’s foundation is supporting it. The Department of Natural Resources, specifically the Wildlife & Heritage Service, is providing technical expertise.

Elk herds and hunts already exist in Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Recently, Virginia has agreed to a reintroduction of the large ungulates into what I call Virginia’s Shoehorn, you know, that piece that slides underneath West Virginia.

Looks like the Mountain State will get an elk herd for free.

But they like the pictures

Those who disagree with the stance I have taken for many years opposing the regulations that prohibit bait fishing and the keeping of brook trout in 111 miles of the Savage River drainage may be surprised to know that, when it comes to trout, I am primarily a fly fisherman.

In the 1980s I was shooting the breeze with Lefty Kreh (famous fly angler, outdoor columnist and conservationist) and asked him why he never wrote about bait fishing.

The lefthander’s answer was quick and concise.

“Bait fishermen don’t read,” he said.

South-bound and down

Those who believe that a brand, spanking new north-south highway linking Cumberland to Scherr, W.Va., is the answer to all the region’s economic difficulties should go to southeastern Ohio and drive the Governor James Rhodes Highway.

Unless something has changed in the few years since I’ve been there, it is one of the country’s first class highways, built for the purpose of economic development, but passing through nothing but farmland and forest. Beautiful drive.

Until goods start to be manufactured again in the United States of America, you can waste all the taxpayer money you want on new roads and new industrial parks and it won’t, as the oldtime Lewis County, W. Va., residents used to say, be worth a hill of blue beans.

And don’t give me the build-it-and-they-will-come routine. There are plenty of nice industrial parks sitting empty or nearly so.

Wouldn’t it have been cool if the Ohio governor’s name had been James Roads?

Good in the clutch

The problem with having a fish/hunt truck with manual transmission and a Rawlings-to-Times-News car with automatic transmission is that sometimes you push a clutch that isn’t there and other times you don’t push a clutch that is there.

Horizontally speaking

I have killed a bunch of deer with my compound bow, but realize that I am never going to be a great shot with it, no matter how much I practice.

Because of that, I prefer the 20-yard shot.

However, I will take the 30-yarder if the deer is broadside and relaxed and if there is a little sound such as wind or light rain to cover the noise of the shot.

However, with my crossbow, I am very confident taking a shot out to 40 yards. I have never practiced shooting any farther than that, but sense that the horizontal bow could be efficient even out to 50.

I am pleased that Maryland gives bowhunters the equipment option.

Are we there yet?

The traditional harbinger of spring is the robin.

For an outdoor writer of multiple decades, the traditional harbinger of autumn and the hunting seasons is the first press release announcing the opening day of mourning dove season.

This year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission was the first state coot-and-carp agency to send me one.

Have you noticed the days getting shorter?

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at