Family reunions are a joy, but I didn't expect to have one that lasted for four days in October in the mountains of Almost Maryland. And, wow, I didn't know our family was so big.
#MdBears2016 changed all that.
If you are new to my writing, I have long referred to Garrett and Allegany counties as Almost Maryland and the term seems to have taken on a life of its own. I often get it tossed back at me or hear people using it. In fact, somebody made a bumper sticker saying "Almost Maryland," but then misspelled Allegany County.
I am thrilled and very satisfied with the online social media participation at #MdBears2016. If you don't have a Twitter account, get one and join the family reunion.
We are hearing from hunters and others not only in Almost Maryland, but also in Frederick and Washington counties, which joined the bear hunt this year. In addition, people from elsewhere are chiming in.
And what a reunion of the hunter family this has been.
I tweet a photo of my hunting grounds and Matt Jones tells me it is a good looking spot.
Maryland Bowhunter has been very active and shares a photo of a big bear he is trying to track down.
Jacob Holtz sees the total of 88 bears killed in just a day and a half and wonders if Maryland's hunters are getting better at what they do or if the bear population is growing rapidly.
A lot of other family members are "liking" and "retweeting" items and thus spreading the good news of the reunion through this amazing electronic world in which we live.
I'm seated on a stump on Dan's Mountain Tuesday when I get an email from Nathan Wilson and a photo of his son Connor, 12, with the bear he killed Monday near Friendsville. I push a few buttons and share it with the rest of the hunter family via #MdBears2016 and Connor is getting a lot of pats on the back from aunts and uncles he didn't even know existed.
At late afternoon, 92 bears had been checked in. As I write this at 7 p.m., it is very likely that this past year's record kill of 95 will be surpassed Tuesday night with yet two full days of hunting remaining.
In 2009, I bagged a bear on the third day of the hunt. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
That potato salad is delicious. Who made that? Isn't cousin Carrie looking good, though?
Michael A. Sawyers is outdoor editor and staff writer at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @CTNMikeSawyers.